We are living in the golden age of quesabirria. It’s been more than two years since the crispy, cheesy, red-tinged beef birria tacos first exploded onto the Bay Area food scene courtesy of a handful of OG taqueros in Richmond, Oakland and Antioch. Since then, the Tijuana-style tacos have spawned too many imitators to count, including a number of cross-cultural riffs—say, beef rendang quesabirria or “Mexipino” chicken adobo quesabirria.
Perhaps the most delicious of these hybridized versions are the bo kho, or Vietnamese beef stew, tacos that East Oakland’s Pho Vy has been selling for the past few months—the blessed union of that basic quesabirria formula (tender stewed meat + crispy tortillas + melted cheese) with a family recipe passed down through four generations.
Since it opened in 2016, Pho Vy has garnered a reputation for serving what might be the richest and most delicious bowl of pho in the East Bay. But Tuan Nguyen, who runs the business with his wife Trang Truong, says the restaurant’s real signature dish is its bo kho—a recipe that was passed down to Nguyen by his mother and his maternal grandfather. It’s a lighter, brothier version of the stew than the dark gravy base you’ll find at a lot of other Vietnamese restaurants; the recipe is specific to his family’s hometown of My Tho, in southern Vietnam, Nguyen says.