Trang Viet Cuisine (Tampa)
This place, open since 1992, is my favorite restaurant in Tampa. They serve wonderful, fresh Vietnamese food in simple, sparse surroundings. Trang, the owner gave up a lucrative career in computer programming to bring his family together to open a restaurant. He grows his own herbs and veggies in a garden in Lutz, and is absolutely dedicated to making good food.
for starters, try his rolls. Spring rolls are excellent, with a delicate, flaky exterior, stuffed with sweet potato and pork (with the customary sweet/salty/spicy fish sauce for dipping). The summer rolls are a fresh tasting mix of rice noodles, shrimp, and herbs in rice paper(with peanut sauce). The autumn roll, my fave, is a grilled ground pork and shrimp mix with herbs and fresh veggies in rice paper (fish sauce). The winter roll is a refreshging blend of jicama root, dried shrimp, spicy sausage, and fresh herbs in rice paper (with a molasses-tinged sauce). Stuffed chicken wings are awesom, as well as steamed buns stuffed with boiled egg and pork.
The salads are not cheap or especially large, but their flavor is great, and you'll never get anything with iceberg lettuce or rance dressing.
The pho soup is excellent: thiny sliced beef with herbs, rice noodles, chiles, and bean sprouts. The stock is simmered for at least 8 hours to get the excellent, subtle flavor. Don't miss out on the Pho--- get a split order with a friend to augment your emntrees.
I could go on forever in praise of Trnag's food, the happy pan cake (pork shrimp and bean sprouts folded into what looks like an omelette but is made with bean flour--- cut into pieces and then wrapped in lettuce with herbs and cucumber and dipped in fish sauce), the wonderful grilled meats, the vietnamese style beef stew, the lemongrass beef over noodles with peanuts, the list goes on and on.
the fried bananas, rolled in cocanut, wrapped in athin pastry, fried and topped with tapioca pudding and ground peanuts. It's so good, it's the only dessert i ever tried.
the delights of Trang's are many, so many that i've eaten there for over 5 years (at least once a month) without one bad meal--- and i'm just now writing about it!
when I heard Trang complain that no women want to marry him, i told him i would--- that's how good the food is.