It had been a while since we'd visited Hoai Hue Restaurant, and a good amount of time since I last posted on the place. The Missus was craving some Banh Nam, so we decided to return to see how the place was doing. Business looked good as the place was half full when we arrived and filled up totally by the time we left.
I can't help but remember how the original Hoai Hue Deli used to be.
The folks here have always been nice to us and today was no different. The older gentleman brought over extra bowls for us to share everything.
The Missus got Her Banh Nam.
Loved the flavor imparted by the banana leaves. The Banh Nam seemed pretty thin, but the texture was very good. This was the best item of the meal.
We also quickly noticed that the fish sauce here is super watered down.
I went with the house version of their special Bun Bo Hue.....can't call it Dac Biet, because there is already a Bun Bo Hue Dac Biet on the menu. This is called the Bun Tom Hoai Hue.
This has basically stayed the course over the years....you gotta give it to them for consistency. THe meatballs are still on the bland side, as is the Cha Lua. The other cuts of meat are a step above Mien Trung, the thick cuts of pork more tender, the pork hock has nice flavor, and the tendon chewy, but not too hard.
As for the broth, it still doesn't bring the heat and is lacking in the lemongrass tones as well. They seem to serve it a notch below what I think is optimal BBH temperature. The broth just seems kind of timid....something I'd usually never think of saying with regards to Bun Bo Hue......
It's not a bad bowl, just not quite up to Mien Trung.
The Missus also ordered the BanhIt Ram, basically glutinous rice dumpling on top of a fried glutinous rice base "dumpling" two ways.
The Banh It, the top "dumpling" was not bad, decent texture, slightly elastic, nice shrimp, though I'd like more pork, pretty good overall. The Banh Ram was not very crisp and much too chewy, even for Banh Ram, which really doesn't have much flavor anyway....if it's even harder then what we deem as normal, then yikes. Add to that lousy nouc mam cham. This stuffs sinks to the bottom of your belly and stays there.
I still think Hoai Hue has the (very distant) second best Bun Bo Hue in San Diego and the flavor and the rest seem pretty consistent. And the Missus enjoyed the Banh Nam, so we may be back sooner than I think.
Hoai Hue Vietnamese Restaurant
4660 El Cajon Blvd
San Diego, CA 92115