Meet the Family Behind Phở 544 and Their Stunning Vietnamese Dishes

Inside Phở 544, the atmosphere from the dining room all the way to the kitchen is considerably different from its neighborhood’s quiet profile. It can be busy, fast-paced and loud at times while maintaining its family-oriented character. This energy can be attributed to the Dang family who runs and operates this Vietnamese restaurant in Murphy, which is about five miles east of Plano. They are “unapologetically loud” with Pops Randy handling inventory, Momma Quan running the kitchen and their son Phil managing the front of house and social media.

Prior to opening Phở 544, Momma Quan was known to her family and social circle as a force in the kitchen, regularly hosting gatherings and feasts with little to no help. With previous experience in operating storefronts, Pops Randy came up with the idea of owning a family restaurant where his wife’s dishes could be shared with the local community. They collectively decided as a family to start this new endeavor, initially looking for a location in Garland, Richardson and Plano. They ultimately decided on a location in the nearby city of Murphy, where they’ve been thriving since opening, even through the pandemic.

Phở 544’s menu consists of Vietnamese dishes curated and made by Momma Quan. As the youngest of 14 children, she learned to cook by watching her mother and older sisters cook for their family in their hometown of Đà Lạt, Vietnam. Each item that she makes has no written recipe to reference, relying solely on memory and taste.

click to enlarge The recipe for the phở is based on memories of Momma Quan's childhood in Đà Lạt, Vietnam. - COURTESY OF PHILLIP DANG

The recipe for the phở is based on memories of Momma Quan’s childhood in Đà Lạt, Vietnam.

Courtesy of Phillip Dang

The broth for the phở takes 10-12 hours to prepare and comes in different meat combinations (the eye of  round steak, well-done flank, brisket, tendon and meatballs is popular).

Bún bò huế, Momma Quan’s most beloved dish, is a spicy noodle soup with chả lụa (pork sausage), sliced beef shank, pork knuckle, sliced pork and blood cake, which takes 8-10 hours to cook. Both dishes require a delicate balance of time and taste, leading to a perfect dish.

A recently added entrée is the bò né, which could be best described as the Vietnamese version of steak and eggs. The sizzling plate has cubed filet mignon, two eggs, grilled onions, pâté, daikon, carrots and a toasted French baguette. The name of the dish is quite interesting: “Bò” translates to beef and “Né” translates to dodge, fitting as you need to slightly dodge away from the hot grease on the sizzling plate. Once it is safe to eat, make sure to firmly press the baguette onto the plate, so you can collect all the wonderful juices and flavors of this dish.

click to enlarge Bò né is served on a sizzling plate and is a Vietnamese version of steak and eggs. - COURTESY OF PHILLIP DANG

Bò né is served on a sizzling plate and is a Vietnamese version of steak and eggs.

Courtesy of Phillip Dang

Phil has also contributed to the menu with shaken beef garlic noodles, a popular dish made with fresh egg noodles tossed in garlic and soy sauce and topped with wok-seared cubed filet mignon. To elevate the entree, ask for double noodles and extra crispy garlic (trust me, you’ll thank me with your garlicky breath).

To bump the entrée even more, go for the surf and turf version by asking to add a grilled lobster tail brushed with scallion butter. Phil was inspired by culinary heroes like Anthony Bourdain, Ming Tsai, David Chang and Roy Choi for this modern take on a traditional Vietnamese dish. “Watching how they can innovate yet keep flavors true to tradition inspires me to do the same,” Phil said.

Since opening in 2017, Phở 544 has gained many regulars within the Murphy community. They have seen customers who come every week without fail, children who have grown into teens, and helped celebrate special milestones and even first dates. Word of mouth and local foodie communities on social media, like Asian Grub in the DFDub (which is the best resource for local Asian eats in DFW), help spread the word about Phở 544 beyond the city of Murphy; some make the long drive from Greenville and Watauga.

On top of helping with Phở 544, Phil balances his time maintaining a full-time job and as a food influencer and photographer (check him out as @phileats_ on IG). This approach to life definitely comes from Momma Quan who likes to go to Vietnamese concerts at casinos with friends. No matter what she’s doing, she always has a smile from ear to ear with her signature Louis Vuitton bag at her side.

“I love seeing people happy because it makes me happy they love my food. No matter how tired I am, seeing smiling faces is worth it,” Momma Quan said. A defining moment was a lunch service on a Sunday when they found their restaurant without an empty table and a few groups waiting outside the door. Instead of feeling tired and overwhelmed, Pops Randy and Momma Quan looked at each other and they smiled at the same time. It was at that moment that they knew that this life was meant for them.

Phở 544, 121 E. FM 544, Suite 125 (Murphy), 972-422-2220,  Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. Sunday, 10 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.

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