MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As the weather turns colder, many of us are looking for comfort food. A Vietnamese noodle soup is one of your best bets, even if you haven’t been pronouncing it right.
We asked viewers where to find the best pho in Minnesota. You sent Reg Chapman to Quang in Minneapolis.
If your traveling down “Eat Street” in Minneapolis you might pay close attention to the restaurant whose parking lot is full, as well as their dining room at 11:30 a.m.
“From my understanding, they’ve got one gal back there who does all the soup, and she’s been doing it for ages and ages,” one customer said.
That matriarch at Quang on Nicollet Avenue is Lung Tran, and she’s been stirring up pho since 1989.
“She’s got some sort of secret that they shouldn’t tell any one else,” the customer said.
But with a customer base like this, you don’t have to be a food critic to know that the secrets out. But the best kept secret is how the family wound up in Minneapolis and how the restaurant got its name.
It starts in war-torn Vietnam in the late 1970s when Lung Tran, her husband Quang Truong, and six of their seven kids fled the country on a harrowing journey.
“We came by boat and we ended up in Kuala Lumpur, and we were there for six months until we were sponsored,” Lung’s daughter Heather Mandanas said.
Their sponsorship by a Lutheran church in St. Cloud was expedited because Quang Truong fought on behalf of the U.S. during the Vietnam war.
“He’s the reason why we didn’t have to stay at camp for long,” Heather said.
And He’s also the reason for the name on the awning.
“We named the restaurant after our dad,” Heather said.
A legitimate concern for any diner, besides deciding what type of pho to order is determining exactly how to say the word “pho” (it’s pronounced, “fuh”).
This comfort food from Vietnam has cultural roots deep enough to divide a country.
“When you eat pho in the north, you don’t get the sprouts and the Jalepenos and the sprouts,” Heather said. “But in the south, because we could grow vegetables there, so we added that. We like to say that the northerners discovered it — they were the ones that created it — but the southerners perfected it.”
No doubt this family has perfected their recipe, which is quite complex, yet they make it in batches big enough to make an army cook blush.
“It’s a total of 190 pounds of beef soup bones, there’s three different types of beef and then there’s 10 pounds of chicken,” Heather said.
Save one very important ingredient: “There’s a lot of steps and a lot of love,” Heather said.
Sadly, Quang Truong never lived to see the restaurant that bears his name — he died in 1985. But his American dream is alive and well in the smiles and comments from customers.
Stop at Quang for lunch and dinner every day except Tuesday.