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The universal allure of PT Eatery

Making Vietnamese food at once approachable and interesting

A rice paper holder, vegetables, and grilled pork, ready to roll into rice paper wraps, Thit Nuong Banh Trang
A rice paper holder, vegetables, and grilled pork, ready to roll into rice paper wraps, Thit Nuong Banh Trang

When they arrive at the table, the rice paper wraps aren’t pre-made. The ingredients are laid out on separate plates: daikon, carrots, lettuce, cucumbers, and pineapple chucks on one; grilled pork topped with peanuts and onions on the other. The round sheets of rice paper are served dry and stiff, held upright in a plastic tray built for this express purpose and no other. The center of the tray is filled with water — we dip the hard discs in the water, and by time we lay them on our plates, they’ve softened enough that they can roll up pork etc,. like flour tortillas wrap a burrito.

Place

PT Eatery

7351 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, San Diego

Every time I think I’ve gotten familiar with a Vietnamese dish, I go to PT Eatery, and find a new twist to captivate me all over again. Another visit, the beef of the short rib pho turns out to be served bone-in, two hunks of toothsome meat at the end of slender ribs, ready to be eaten like drumsticks.

Then of course there’s the phở French dip bahn mi, which mashes up the sandwich construction of the Vietnamese sandwich with the aus ju dipped sandwich concept, using aromatic beef phở broth.

A sort of second location for the Convoy Street restaurant, Phuong Trang

It’s been a couple years since the ownership of Convoy Street restaurant Phuong Trang opened PT Eatery on Clairmont Mesa Boulevard, roughly a mile away. I might have wondered whether it was too much of a good thing for one neighborhood, given the restaurants are similar, if not identical. But I gather part of the expansion is that slight shift in branding, with the PT Eatery name being easier to market for newbies to the cuisine.

Beef phở with bone-in short rib

Which may be taken as a signal to anyone who hasn’t enjoyed a lot of Vietnamese food before, that this place can start you out on the right foot. The rice paper wrappers likely proving the most fun. Especially with kids. Beside pork, options include grilled shrimp, beef, chicken, and if you’re really feeling it, roasted catfish.

Beef banh mi served with a beef phở dip

If the bone-in shortrib sounds like too much, order phở with rare steak, well done brisket, or chicken. And if you want to experience the more authentic banh mi, aim for grilled pork or chicken, or if you’re feeling vegetarian, tofu.

A comfortable place to sit a while, and eat Vietnamese food

I’m fond of PT Eatery for covering its bases this way, and for providing a comfortable, beautifully furnished place to take a seat and explore a little of everything. They even put boba in my ice coffee; another first.

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A rice paper holder, vegetables, and grilled pork, ready to roll into rice paper wraps, Thit Nuong Banh Trang
A rice paper holder, vegetables, and grilled pork, ready to roll into rice paper wraps, Thit Nuong Banh Trang

When they arrive at the table, the rice paper wraps aren’t pre-made. The ingredients are laid out on separate plates: daikon, carrots, lettuce, cucumbers, and pineapple chucks on one; grilled pork topped with peanuts and onions on the other. The round sheets of rice paper are served dry and stiff, held upright in a plastic tray built for this express purpose and no other. The center of the tray is filled with water — we dip the hard discs in the water, and by time we lay them on our plates, they’ve softened enough that they can roll up pork etc,. like flour tortillas wrap a burrito.

Place

PT Eatery

7351 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, San Diego

Every time I think I’ve gotten familiar with a Vietnamese dish, I go to PT Eatery, and find a new twist to captivate me all over again. Another visit, the beef of the short rib pho turns out to be served bone-in, two hunks of toothsome meat at the end of slender ribs, ready to be eaten like drumsticks.

Then of course there’s the phở French dip bahn mi, which mashes up the sandwich construction of the Vietnamese sandwich with the aus ju dipped sandwich concept, using aromatic beef phở broth.

A sort of second location for the Convoy Street restaurant, Phuong Trang

It’s been a couple years since the ownership of Convoy Street restaurant Phuong Trang opened PT Eatery on Clairmont Mesa Boulevard, roughly a mile away. I might have wondered whether it was too much of a good thing for one neighborhood, given the restaurants are similar, if not identical. But I gather part of the expansion is that slight shift in branding, with the PT Eatery name being easier to market for newbies to the cuisine.

Beef phở with bone-in short rib

Which may be taken as a signal to anyone who hasn’t enjoyed a lot of Vietnamese food before, that this place can start you out on the right foot. The rice paper wrappers likely proving the most fun. Especially with kids. Beside pork, options include grilled shrimp, beef, chicken, and if you’re really feeling it, roasted catfish.

Beef banh mi served with a beef phở dip

If the bone-in shortrib sounds like too much, order phở with rare steak, well done brisket, or chicken. And if you want to experience the more authentic banh mi, aim for grilled pork or chicken, or if you’re feeling vegetarian, tofu.

A comfortable place to sit a while, and eat Vietnamese food

I’m fond of PT Eatery for covering its bases this way, and for providing a comfortable, beautifully furnished place to take a seat and explore a little of everything. They even put boba in my ice coffee; another first.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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