Over a year after reading Mizducky's post on the quaintly named O Yea! we finally made it for a visit. You can read all about it in her post here. If I recall, this used to be a Thai Restaurant in a former life. The interior is rather pink.....
The one odd thing is not the color, or any of the decor. In many kitchens you'll here the "ding" of the bell when a dish is ready for pick-up. At OY, you'll hear Big Ben Chime...."ding-dong-ding-dong.....ding-dong-ding-dong"!
The menu is just a tad South of huge, with 96+ dishes ranging from Pho Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup) to full on Hot Pot Dinners (Lau), and this doesn't include the 30 or so drinks. It's enough to trigger off "Vietnamese Menu Overload".
I decided to order the combination Com Tam pictured on the tabletop ($6.50):
The first thing I always try to note is the fragrance of the broken rice; for some reason it always stimulates my appetite. Unfortunately, the aroma of 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline was lacking. It was appropriate as this dish was basically a "non-starter". The grilled pork was hard, greasy, and tough, though the "Cha" (steamed egg) was moist but bland. The "Bi" was dry, and lacked flavor.
The Missus had Her mind set on one thing from the beginning, those savory orbs of rice flour called Banh Khot ($6):
The Missus, an avowed Kanom Krok fan, had expected something similar with regards to texture; crisp exterior, light at first bite, with a still molten, custard like interior. This was already cold by the time it hit the table, and it was soggy all the way through.
Not a great meal by any stretch of the imagination. Still, I decided that I'd give the place another shot. Though the Missus decided to stay home and have leftovers.
Again, faced with the sizable menu, I was at a loss as to what to order. Not that the very nice young lady waiting for my order was pushy, when she was in fact quite nice......I think she's used to the initial state of confusion. I finally went with the Bun Bo Hue, one of my favorite noodle soups.
When the bowl arrived I was very surprised at the portion size.....it is priced at only five bucks($5):
In spite of the promising appearance, I could barely detect the scent of fish sauce. Nor could I pick up the aroma of lemongrass nor shrimp paste. Tasting the broth confirmed what my nose had not detected. The broth was very bland, annatto colored, salt water bland. The broth was also South of hot. BBH demands a scalding broth to take care of the herbs and vegetables provided. Notice I said vegetables, not garnish. For me the chopped greens are an integral part of the dish.
Too bad because the noodles were prepared well, and in spite of the lack of Cha Lua (steamed defatted pork sausage), there was meat galore in this bowl. The meat was very tender, the brisket full of flavor. The addition of Rau Ram (Vietnamese Coriander) added a nice peppery component to the bowl.
This bowl reminded me of the version at Pho Hoa Cali Express. It's Bun Bo Hue designed for Pho lovers, if you're looking for that, it's waiting for you here. I found this lacking the earthy, spicy, bright flavors of a good Bun Bo Hue.
I had really to like this restaurant; the prices are good, and I had really nice and friendly service. So maybe one of my FOYs (Friends of Yoso) out there can tell what of the 90 plus items on the menu is worth trying????
O'Yea! Vietnamese Cuisine
4660 El Cajon Blvd #102
San Diego CA 92115