The first time I visited Trang Viet Cuisine was while I was visiting in Tampa a year ago, following a tip from someone online that they had an impressive vegan menu. They sure did! Four pages of vegan options definitely qualifies as "impressive," in my book. Since becoming a Florida resident again, it still took me a few months to make it out there again.
Following the Colleen Patrick-Goudreau speaking event was Trang's monthly vegan buffet. I had heard so much about this since moving back to the area, but this was my first time partaking. The monthly buffet draws a large crowd of hungry people. Look -- I even spotted a vegan roller derby girl!
As far as buffets go, I can't say I was over the moon about the selection at Trang. I'm just not crazy about buffets. I'd say half of what I put on my plate was good.
The summer roll was good, the stuffed pepper was mostly okay (the squishy texture took me by surprise), the stir-fry was decent (though a bit too bland), and I didn't care for the shredded salad at all. The best part of all the offerings was the coconut soup.
Chunks of sweet potato, white potato, carrot, pumpkin, string beans, and peanuts in a creamy coconut-veggie broth. Next time I think I'll skip the buffet and just order a bowl of this.
I ended up returning to Trang on Valentine's Day to dine with a group of single ladies. This time I had the menu in front of me, all four pink pages of vegan offerings staring back at me. It's kind of a shock to the system to be faced with so many options in a restaurant for a change! I knew for sure that I needed more of that soup.
I decided to go with something different for my meal and, after much debating, went with the vegan Happy Pancake. With a name like that, how could I say no?
One girl at the table accurately said it when, upon tasting it, declared, "Wow, that is surprisingly flavorless." The sparsely-spiced rice flour pancake was stuffed with tofu and bean sprouts, but mostly it just tasted greasy. The Happy Pancake is a process -- it comes with a little plate of lettuce leaves and herbs. Chunks of the pancake go into a lettuce leaf with some herbs, and then dipped into a sauce, which comes on the side, if so desired. The dipping sauce didn't lend much flavor, either.
I didn't completely give up hope, though. Since the prices at Trang are beyond reasonable, I grabbed a slice of vegan chocolate and rum cheesecake to go.
This was not a disappointment. It was creamy, not overly-chocolatey (not a "Death by Chocolate" situation), and it had just a hint of fruitiness/floweriness (perhaps from the rum?). Either way, this was pretty good.
So at this point, my recommendations at Trang are the summer rolls, the southern coconut soup, and the cheesecake. With four pages of vegan options, I intend to return and do some more exploring around their vegan menu and, of course, report back with my findings.