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May 22, 2007 04:46 PM

Bronx recs: Up for a (cheap) adventure?

I teach up in the Bronx and can recommend two very good places if you want to take a quick trip and try at least one dish that I know for a fact is unavailable below Washington Heights....

1) Take the 4 train to Burnside. Get out on the left hand (facing north) side of the tracks. There is a tiny restaurant right there on Jerome. Go in and ask for mangu (mahn-GOO), which are mashed plantains with stewed red onions. Phenomenally delicious and unavailable in most of Manhattan! The roasted chicken is also amazing, the perfect mix of crispy and tender.

2) Then, walk (or take the 30 bus) up Jerome Ave to the Kingsbridge 4 stop (it is currently closed). On the right-hand side of the street is a Vietnamese grocery store called Hung Phung. Go in and order anything, it will be delicious. Hung Phung is also quite unusual as it is probably the only Vietnamese place for blocks around. I am partial to the beef soup, it's some of the best I've ever had and very freshly made.

Happy eating and be sure to post your experiences here, good or bad! These are 5-8 dollar meals, so go with that in mind.

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  1. OK, so does that Vietnamese place sell Bahn Mi?

    3 Replies
    1. re: Helen F

      Hung Phung is still there?! I must trek out there.

      1. re: Helen F

        Helen F, my husband and I went there over the weekend. The food is delicious!

        They have three different types of Banh Mi: ham & ground pork, grilled pork, or meatball.
        I tried their grilled lemongrass chicken rice dish (Com) and ordered the Pho to takeout. I think I'm going to be a regular.

        Their number is: 718-584-5228

      2. That would be the Phung Hung Market you're talking about, @ 2614 Jerome Ave., 1-468 for those of you Mapquesting. it's 1 block south of the Kingsbridge Rd. station on the 4 line (on the east side of Jerome Ave.), but that station is closed for repair, so you're best bet is to get off at the Fordham Rd. station 1 stop to the south and walk up about 6 blocks.

        And yeah, they do make awesome Banh Mi...I discovered the place myself last fall while taking some classes at nearby CUNY-Lehman. I, too, thought it was odd to find great Vietnamese way up in the Boogie-Down, but when I asked the owner, David, about the location, he said there was a small, tight group of Vietnamese in the area, many of whom belong to a nearby Buddhist temple. Go figure...btw, his elderly mother-in-law does most of the cooking.


        4 Replies
        1. re: funkjester

          Haven't been exploring the Bronx much now that my husband is monopolizing the car at all hours. However, I think heard about a Cambodian community in the Bronx too, or is my memory faulty? I don't think anyone could find any restaurants associated with it.

          1. re: JH Jill

            Right across the street from Phung Hung market (I agree, awesome banh mi) there is a store called Pnom Penh Market. I did not have the time to check it out so I don't know if they serve food. I'll try to get there this week.

            Aside to Hines: I teach in the Bronx, too, and when I went into hung Hung I was greeted by a scene that warmed my heart: the young man who seems to own the market helping his first or second grade daughter with her homework...encouraging her to write more. That was enough to make me a regular even if the food were merely good.

            1. re: Deven Black

              The market sells pretty complete goods that are popular in Asia.

              Yeah, such a family man. I asked him if they had delivery, and he answered that he will start to deliver when the kids are out of school so the mother can take care of them.:)

              JH Jill:
              some Cambodians are still living around the area. Cambodians were placed in this area of the Bronx by the United Nations because of the cheap rent back in the 80s. They have a lot of history with Vietnam and Thailand so maybe they’re very close in this community. They have their own grocery called Battambang II on East Kingsbridge road. It is also two blocks away from their Buddhist temple (it could be the same as Deven Black mentioned).

              1. re: fsval

                No, the market I mentioned is on Jerome Ave., directly opposite Phung Hung.

        2. Thank you for this post!!! Who knew there is Banh Mi in the Bronx...I can't wait to check it out!!

          1. I just wanted to report that based on this hot tip, I went to Phung Hung yesterday for lunch. I never suspected I could get a banh mi by the Grand Concourse. Lo and behold, though, there it was. A very fine sandwich, good mix of meat and veggies, a big spike of cilantro, and it was SPICY. I gloated for the rest of the day.

            I got a very good Vietnamese coffee, a banh mi, two shrimp summer rolls, and a rice-and-banana thing for $5. It's right under the train tracks, for those of you who are going to the neighborhood of Lehman College. You can get a banh mi, take it over to the Poe Cottage park, eat a sandwich, and then get an icy dessert from one of the cart guys. Life is good.

            BUT. There was a sign on the door that said "business for sale." This makes me worried.

            Next time I'll try the grocery store and report what I find.

            5 Replies
            1. re: nerdgoggles

              I went today for the first time. Its a small place with only 4 tables. I had the pho tai which had a rich, flavorful broth. It was really filling for $4.50. Had a nice, tart fresh lemonade to go with it. All the people who work there were extremely friendly. I spoke with the guy at the counter who asked how I learned about the restaurant and I told him about Chowhound. He mentioned a reporter was in yesterday, but didn't seem to know from where. I saw the "for sale" sign too, but forgot to ask. I'm planning on going back next week and will report back.

              1. re: jdf

                "Josh" was the name of one of two reporters, the fellow behind the counter told me. He added that his family is looking for someone to run the business end of things while they continue to do the cooking (and tend to the kids, who seemed well-behaved but are kids nonetheless). Stopping by between 9:00 and 2:00 will score you the best selection.

                Phnom Penh-Nha Trang Market, across Jerome Ave., has a decent selection of Thai desserts by the checkout, but they don't prepare food on the premises. Like Battambang Market on Valentine Ave., it's Cambodian-owned but offers a mix of Thai, Vietnamese, Filipino, and Chinese products; Cambodia itself hasn't managed to re-establish an export economy.

                  1. re: DaveCook

                    Sounds like Mr. Grub Street (Josh Ozersky) was following down the Phung Hung tip as well...I had sent an email to the Porkchop Express guy, who also loves banh mih, and I think word trickled back to the Grub St. krewe...excellent reportage if they jumped the 4 up to the Bx to follow things down.

                1. re: nerdgoggles

                  I went back to Phung Hung today. Maybe it was that it was 2:00, maybe it was an off day. But the banh mi wasn't as good as the first time. Plus it and an iced coffee now cost $4.50. I still love getting a banh mi on the Grand Concourse, but this time it was just okay. On the other hand, they had some appealing, giant steamed buns on the counter--the kind I ate tons of in Vietnam but haven't much seen in America--though I didn't try them. Next time.

                2. Went to Phung Hung today and was very pleased with the banh mi. I look forward to trying the pho and various cooked items that looked really good.
                  FYI: they are closing sometime at the end of July until mid-August to complete the conversion from market to restaurant. Call them at 718-584-5228 to see if they are open.

                  Nha Trang market across the street has a really nice array of fresh ingredients for vietnamese dishes.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: kenito799

                    Today is their last day. They said that their phone number will remain the same, and that they anticipate reopening sometime in September. I for one can't wait. Their banh mi is good but not extraordinary--except that it's banh mi **in the Bronx!** Their chicken soup, which I had today, is extraordinary. Light, delicate, fragrant chickeny, lemony broth, tender shreds of white meat chicken, loads of fresh cilantro and scallions. Served with a plate of lime, jalapeno slices, shredded lettuce, mint leaves and mung bean sprouts. $5.

                    The market across the street is fantastic, with a huge assortment of fresh herbs. I bought lovely, potent, fragrant basil there last week, and bought tamarind leaves and a mysterious green herb with purple stalks today.

                    Pho Saigon No. 1
                    2614 Jerome Ave, Bronx, NY 10468

                    Phnom Penh-Nha Trang Market
                    2639 Jerome Ave, Bronx, NY 10468

                    1. re: rose water

                      Any updates on when Phung Hung Market might reopen? I just gave a call and sadly, no answer. I'm not usually over that way, just wondering if anyone has been by and noticed any signs of reopening...

                      1. re: CeeBee

                        I called last week and spoke with someone there. They said they were re-opening on Monday, but I would give another call before heading over.

                        1. re: jdf

                          I called them this evening, and they are open again! I can't wait to get back over there.

                          1. re: rose water

                            I know. See my post from yesterday (although I think I refrerenced it as Phung Hung). I went for lunch. New, expanded menu.

                            1. re: jdf

                              Here's the thread you mentioned: which I missed originally. Thanks for the report back.