I know, Cathy just posted on Pho Hiep a couple of weeks ago. Usually I'd wait a while, but recently I had someone recommend the Bun Bo Hue and Bun Mang Vit at Pho Hiep......she said the Bun Bo Hue was better than Mien Trung's and the Bun Mang Vit superior to Chinese Kitchen (Chi Tu Thanh Nha Hang)! Really?? Since I hadn't had the Bun Bo Hue here since 2006, when the place was still called Pho Hoa Hiep, I decided to forgo what I usually order (Pho, Com Tam, or the Bun), and go for it.
I honestly don't remember ever seeing Bun Mang Vit on the menu here......
Though on this evening, I went with the Bun Bo Hue. I was craving something with a little kick. Unfortunately, the large bowl of Bun Bo Hue ($7.40) just didn't do it for me.
First the good; man the veggies and herbs were fresh and crisp. The meat, especially the tendon and thick cuts were very good. The noodles were prepared decently. The broth was nice and hot.....and it kind of stops there. The broth had almost no spice, I did see some chilies, but it was really nothing. There was a lack of the distinctive lemongrass flavor I enjoy so much. The broth was way too light in flavor, even though the oil content was decent. I dumped the entire dish of fermented shrimp paste and chilies into this and nothing...... It was las if Pho Hiep decided to dump some chilies in a very light pho broth, drip some annatto oil on top and call it Bun Bo Hue.
For me, the broth, whether it's Pho, Bun Bo Hue, Niu Rou Mian, Ramen, or whatever is prime. In this case the broth was seriously lacking.
Still, in order to do my due diligence, I needed to return and try that Bun Mang Vit (large - $7.40):
Again, I loved the vegetables and herbs, especially what the rau ram (Vietnamese Coriander) brought to the dish. The dipping sauce was terrible, too sweet, like sweet chili sauce mixed with a scant amount of ginger. The noodles were again prepared well and this time the broth; though light, had some flavor, though it tasted more like chicken fat added to pho broth. The bamboo shoots had a nice texture, but the woodsy flavor was pretty muted.
The protein was the most problematic. Though there were two nice slices of duck.....
Everything else was combination of bones and large pieces of duck liver...not my favorite thing in the world. In the end this was pretty much a fail for me.
Perhaps I should have taken it as a sign when the person that recommended this place noted that she hated Bun Mam and Mam Nem. But heck, I don't live my life just laying back.....I was taught to try things, it's how you expand and grow. And often, failure is the price of progress. But I did learn something here......
Stick with the pho, com tam, and bun at Pho Hiep and Grill. Lesson learned....
Pho Hiep & Grill
6947 Linda Vista Road
San Diego, CA 92111