Pho King Rapidos Is Now Open at Avanti Denver | Westword
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Pho King Rapidos Has Parked Its Food Truck (for Now) and Moved Into Avanti

It's also opening a brick-and-mortar in Park Hill this summer in collaboration with Yuan Wonton and Sweets and Sourdough.
Pho King Rapidos is now serving at Avanti Denver.
Pho King Rapidos is now serving at Avanti Denver. Molly Martin
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A lot of changes are happening for our 2021 Best Food Truck pick, Pho King Rapidos. As of May 15, it's open at Avanti, the LoHi food hall located at 3200 Pecos Street. It's also finalizing plans for the debut of a new variation of its concept in a brick-and-mortar location in Park Hill this summer, which is a collaborative project that also includes Yuan Wonton (which nabbed Best Food Truck in 2022) and artisan bakery Sweets and Sourdough.

"The truck is retired for the time being," says Long Nguyen, who started the business with his wife, Shauna Seaman, in 2020; it quickly gained fans of its creative, New York City- and Denver-inspired twists on Vietnamese fare. "I wouldn't say it's done completely, it's possible that we'll bring it back down the road to do events," he adds.

For now, though, Nguyen has plenty keeping him busy. "We're just excited. It's been a little challenging, getting into a new spot," he admits. "Two-thirds of our menu at Avanti is new items, so just getting processes down and getting everyone trained up, staying organized. I've been really fortunate that my wife's been really supportive, and I've had a good team and some really good friends come through and lend a hand. It just feels good. Nothing feels forced."
click to enlarge a chicken sandwich on a soft roll with cabbage slaw
The fried chicken banh mi comes with Vietnamese slaw and was inspired by goi ga.
Molly Martin
Originally, "the plan was to do the brick-and-mortar and run the food truck," he continues. But the opportunity to reach a new clientele at Avanti was too good to pass up, particularly when "running a food truck is hard," Nguyen adds.

"In the two and a half years we've been operating, last year was the hardest. Even harder than our first year during the pandemic," he says. With a mobile food business, logistics are innately difficult, from setup to travel time and having to fix your own equipment, including the truck itself. "I basically had to become a mechanic," he says. It was also a struggle to be "limited to whatever you could fit on that trailer."

With more space, "this can take us to the that next step of what we want to offer and what we want to do," Nguyen says. "You always want to keep it fresh and find a way to push yourself."
click to enlarge a basket of fried chicken nuggets with dipping sauces
Mochiko chicken nuggets are new to the Pho King Rapidos menu.
Molly Martin
The food hall menu includes two Pho King Rapidos staples: the Pho Banh Mi and Chicken Over Rice. Among the new additions is the Chickie Banh Mi, which is inspired by the Vietnamese dish goi ga, a type of chicken salad with raw vegetables that is often eaten with congee. This version combines fried chicken thighs with a cabbage-based slaw and fish sauce vinaigrette. "The slaw is really the highlight of the sandwich," Nguyen notes.

Other additions are the Tomato Noods, a play on a Vietnamese stuffed tomato dish that also has a hint of Italian influence; and the snack-able Mochiko Chicken Nugs served with dipping sauce options like toasted sesame sriracha mayo; barbecue sauce made with sriracha, hoisin and chile powder; a green sauce with cilantro, jalapeño, garlic and Parmesan; and a Greek yogurt-based white sauce.

At the upcoming Park Hill brick-and-mortar, which will be located at 2878 Fairfax Street, Nguyen is excited to introduce Thùy by PKR, which is named after his mother. Guests can expect "street-food staples you'd find in Vietnam, but done in a larger, shareable format," he explains. "Dishes I fell in love with growing up when I was fortunate enough to go with my parents back to Vietnam and visit family, and even here, stuff that my mom makes for dinner." Like the lineup at Pho King Rapidos, there will be creative twists, too. A beer and wine program will also be available.
click to enlarge a bowl of noodles with cherry tomatoes, basil and crispy shallots
The Tomato Noods combine Vietnamese and Italian influences.
Molly Martin
"We're pushing as hard as we can to get open," Nguyen says of the project. "Just the same things you hear with a lot of other openings — delays with permitting, inspections, general contractors, stuff like that. We're hoping for this summer and being fluid, trying to stay afloat. It's a little challenging, for sure...but it's really been a fun and exciting experience collaborating with the three of us."

Opening in Park Hill is a full-circle moment for Nguyen. When Pho King Rapidos first launched and was "basically begging" breweries to let them have a spot, he recalls, Yuan Wonton owner Penelope Wong connected him with Long Table Brewhouse, which is located on the same block as the upcoming brick-and-mortar. "We started posting up there, and it was really great support from the neighborhood," Nguyen says, "so when this opportunity came, it felt right."

Pho King Rapidos at Avanti is located at 3200 Pecos Street and is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. For more information, visit pkr-denver.com.
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