We didn't find a whole lot to eat in Phan Rang, but there are a couple of spots worth pointing out. The eating situation seems to be best south of the roundabout, near most of the accommodation.
Noodles are, as everywhere in Vietnam, the order of the day. Mi Pho Hong has a clean, sit-down atmosphere and a steady clientele, though we felt the soup we had here was only average. But we scared up a really delectable bowl of Vietnam's national dish at Quan Nhut Huong, two doors north of the Fa Ra Guest House. It's a vegetarian restaurant (look for the words com chay), staffed by faithful Buddhist women full of smiles, and the food they serve is quite tasty, even if you're a carnivore. The pho dac biet (special noodle soup), was so flavourful, and contained so many bits of things that looked and tasted like pressed meat, we became suspicious and asked to see the packaging labels. Sure enough, the contents were 100% veggie. Their home-made, red pepper sauce is a great addition to the food, and there was more variety under their little glass case than we could sample on our visit.
On the other end of the spectrum, all those goats you see wandering around the roadways do, in fact, eventually end up on the dinner table -- several places offer the meat, called de (yeah) in Vietnamese (say it like you're a goat and you'll be close, pronunciation-wise). A good choice is Quan Tri Tam -- head south of the roundabout to where the road forks at the post office and bear left -- it's on the left. The specialty here is lau de, goat-meat hot pots that cost 25- to 35,000 VND depending on the size. We dare you to try the tiet canh, goat's blood pudding. At 5,000 VND a serving, you can afford to not finish it.
For a sit-down Vietnamese meal, locals beat a path to Quan An Bay Hoa, one intersection south of the roundabout on the east side of the street. You'll get the usual fare for a restaurant of this type -- seafood and meat dishes in the 20- to 60,000 VND -- but we also spied some sushi on the menu, which is a bit unusual for this neck of the woods.
We found Phan Rang a bit slack in the cafe territory, but just north of the roundabout on the east side is a small place, Cafe Ninh Kieu notable for it's outdoor seating under a huge, leafy tree -- a cool, quite spot to sit and sip on a hot afternoon.
Cafe Ninh Kieu: 362 thong Nhat St, Phan Rang. T: (068) 831 692
Quan An Bay Hoa: 418 Thong Nhat St, Phan Rang. T: (068) 823 238. Hours: 07:00 to 21:00.
Quan Nhut Huong: 287 Thong Nhat St, Phan Rang. T: (0985) 017 319. Hours: 06:00 t0 22:00
Quan Tri Tam: 174 Thong Nhat St, Phan Rang. T: (068) 820 615, (0908) 044 323. Hours: 09:00 to 22:00