Pho King Rapidos Reinvents Itself at Avanti Denver

For nearly three years, Pho King Rapidos has been pushing the envelope and visibly acting as one of Denver’s most tenacious and creative food trucks. Known for its iconic sandwiches, including the pho banh mi and the chopped cheese, PKR has been carving its own lane with dishes that combine Vietnamese flavors with New York deli staples.

PKR was founded in 2020 by husband and wife duo Long Nguyen and Shauna Seaman—a couple of locals who grew up eating Vietnamese food, moved to New York and returned home with a genre-bending vision of universal snack fare. From the jump, the menu has been fueled by predawn experimentalism, with each dish being meticulously crafted according to taste, tweak by meticulous tweak. Even with the influence of a whole lot of elsewhere, the food comes out distinctly and decidedly Denver.

READ: Pho King Rapidos Merges the Flavors of Vietnam, Denver and New York

The iconography, an iced-out rendition of downtown’s Big Blue Bear, helps to solidify the project’s hometown flavor. So when word got out that the team was trading in the truck for a stall in Avanti Denver, people began to wonder what was next for the mercurial crew.

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“The truck is currently retired but not out of commission,” said Nguyen cheerfully. On Monday, May 15, PKR opened to an excited crowd in the stall that formerly held Meta Asian Kitchen.

Roughly two-thirds of the menu is new. The famous pho banh mi — with pho-smoked brisket, “bbq” sauce, red onion and herbs — is still available, as is the Halal Guys homage, chicken over rice. But in the new items, Nguyen and company have clearly found their stride. “Though sadly, the chopped cheese is on a temporary leave of absence,” he said.

READ: New York Street Food Icon The Halal Guys Opens Its First Colorado Location in Aurora

It helps that Nguyen is joined in the kitchen by Riceboxx‘s Pannah Son, who started making a splash with a series of Covid-era Cambodian and Filipino pop-ups.

The garlic noods ($12), which emulate the famed San Francisco style, are a must, as are the Mochiko chicken nugs ($10). The chicken banh mi is good, but the BLT Heo Quay Sandwich ($16), with three-day crispy pork belly and Texas toast, proves that PKR’s imaginative tinkering has no signs of slowing down.

While the Avanti opening certainly seems to be a solid overhaul for PKR, Nguyen says all the fundamentals are still there. “We’re still spending a ton of time and energy on the ingredients that go into our food. And we’re still very influenced by Vietnamese culture,” he said. “Running a food truck is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’m incredibly grateful for my wife, my friends and my family.”

Pho King Rapidos is located in Avanti Denver at 3200 North Pecos St., Denver. It is open Sunday – Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Thursday – Saturday from 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.

All photography courtesy of Amber Boutwell.

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