Much phun and phood at Pho Hot

Pho Hot Bistro owner Danny Nguyen supervises Rick Moonen's grilling.

Celeb chef Rick Moonen spent his last night in Wichita partaking in a fabulous Vietnamese feast offered by one of our local chef celebs — Danny Nguyen, owner of Pho Hot Bistro at 306 N. Rock Road.

Nguyen is known for preparing multi-course dinners for his friends, and he’s good friends with former Eagle food editor Joe Stumpe and his wife, Carrie Rengers. The two arranged for Nguyen to prepare one of his decadent dinners for Moonen, who seemed pretty impressed.

And who wouldn’t be? Nguyen brought out course after course after course — shrimp papaya salad, plates of crawfish, sweet and sour shrimp soup served in a hot pot, caramel salmon and fresh lychee fruit for dessert.

The ruins of the meal. In this photo, you can see the hot pot soup, and that platter with all the garnish contains and giant whole catfish.

The highlight was when Nguyen moved the party outdoors to have us grill beef and vegetables on a tiny, tabletop grill and assemble the fillings in rice paper wrappers. Moonen did the grilling for everyone and insisted he was having so much fun, he didn’t care if he got to try any. (He did.)

I was glad that Moonen’s friends arranged for him to visit Pho Hot because it’s one very good example of something Wichita excels in — fresh and flavorful Vietnamese food. We might not have the fine dining Las Vegas does, but when it comes to ethnic cuisine — especially Vietnamese and Mediterranean — we have more than our share of fabulous options

Here are a couple more pics from the evening.

The Pho Hot party: From left to right, John Smith, Pho Hot Bistro owner Danny Nguyen, me, Rick Moonen, Rick's girlfriend Roni Fields, Don Hysko, Carrie Rengers, Joe Stumpe, Pat Hysko and Jackie Smith.

We stuffed the patio-grilled meat into rice paper wrappers with fresh veggies, herbs and sauces.