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Take a Tip from a Food Truck for Your Next Cookout

Photos by Victoria Parmenter Photos by Victoria Parmenter
Photos by Victoria Parmenter

“I found myself doodling recipes during economics class.”

This was Thai Phi’s first sign that his future was in food, not finance. Phi grew up cooking, eating, and loving Vietnamese food. And now he runs Pink Bellies, a Charleston, South Carolina food truck. Using locally-sourced ingredients, Phi puts his own modern spin on classic Vietnamese dishes.

After graduating from the University of South Carolina, Phi spent close to four months in Vietnam; this solidified his love for Vietnamese culture and cuisine. Most often located on the corner of Calhoun and St. Philip Streets, the menu is comprised of Phi’s favorite flavors used in recipes of his own creation. The menu changes seasonally and even sometimes daily. Standards such as the Avocado Smoothie and the Pulled Pork Blueberry Banh Mi are two of our top picks, but when we tasted his Nem Nuong Cay Mia, we thought, “Now we’ve found the perfect tailgate food!” (Or a wonderful addition to a weekend cookout.)

These BBQ pork meatballs on sugar cane skewers are Phi’s own take on nem nuong, commonly cooked by street vendors in Nha Trang, Vietnam. Replacing wooden chopsticks with sugar cane skewers, these meatballs are the perfect combination of sweet and savory. Just one taste and you might be repeating Phi’s favorite slogan, “Get in my belly!”

Nem Nuong Cay Mia (BBQ Pork Meatballs on Sugar Cane Skewers)
From Thai Phi of Pink Bellies Food Truck, Charleston, South Carolina

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