Souped up

WHITTIER – I grew up in Plymouth – the bland land of Chili’s, Applebee’s and TGI Friday’s. My family has always avoided culinary adventures, leaving me with timid taste buds and fumbling hands when I try my hand at chopsticks.

So when my friends introduced me to Quang, the Vietnamese restaurant on Nicollet, a few years ago, I felt a bit intimidated. I stuck to the spring rolls and tofu-mock duck platter (which I ate with a fork) while they ordered huge bowls of soup filled with all kinds of ingredients, gracefully swooping it into their mouths with chopsticks.

Earlier this month, I brushed aside my fears and decided to dive into one of Quang’s famous bowls. I ordered the egg noodle, wonton and pork soup – leaving the restaurant’s legendary sea bass and shrimp noodle soup for another day (a weekend special for $7.95). When the bountiful soup arrived, I took a moment to appreciate all of the elements that went into the massive bowl. I topped the pile of egg noodles, wontons and pork slices with fresh basil, bean sprouts, freshly squeezed lime and hoisin sauce (Asian barbecue sauce), then grabbed a spoon and starting eating – spoonful after satisfying spoonful. It didn’t take long for soup fatigue to set in, and I still had another two to three meals left in my seemingly bottomless bowl. I brought home the leftovers in a giant Styrofoam carton.

Quang’s soups, which range from $5.95-$6.50, feature a range of ingredients, including seafood, meatballs, pork, hot and spicy beef, and a variety of vegetables. All come with the standard sides of fresh bean sprouts, sliced jalapenos, basil and lime wedges.

Quang manager Charles Truong said the most popular soups for the 17-year-old restaurant are the sea bass on weekends and the pho soup – a beef soup flavored with basil, mint and star anis among other things (Truong’s personal favorite).

Besides soup, Quang’s menu features appetizers, such as spring rolls and wontons; vermicelli salads; and several platters, including grilled pork chops, jumbo shrimp and mock duck; among other things. The beverage options are also vast. Highlights include black iced coffee, a soya bean drink, a sweetened pennywort (a type of leaf) beverage, coconut juice, freshly squeezed limeade and several types of bubble teas, which feature chewy tapioca balls or pearls.

The dessert menu includes sweet black eye pudding, baked coconut cream and another dish that features yam, yucca and taro, as well as other interesting sweets.

Quang’s has a spacious and unassuming space on Eat Street. It’s usually easy to get a table (though weekends get busy), and the servers in the dozen or so times I’ve been there have always been fast and friendly.

So, next time you’re in the mood for soup – and not just any soup, something substantial – Quang is worth checking out.

 

Quang Restaurant

2719 Nicollet Ave. S.

870-4739