Does this storefront ring a bell? I wouldn't blame you if it did. Other than the signage, everything about the place look exactly the same as the shop it replaced, Cam Ky. A few months back, I noticed the new sign with a different name and made a note to check it out. My good FOY "YummyYummy" beat me to it, probably because of the Banh Cuon sign. Her verdict? Well, not so good. While YY has impeccable taste when it comes to Vietnamese food, I decided to check them out myself, just to see.
The place looks basically the same. In fact, if you didn't pay attention to the sign, you'd walk in thinking it was Cam Ky. It becomes clear fairly quickly it is not. In spite of the sign; there's no "BBQ", no steam table, and just a couple of items on the regular menu. It becomes quite apparent that the place wants to focus on catering as prices for "trays" are posted prominently in the window and on the walls.
The prices really aren't bad by San Diego standards, so I went with the Banh Cuon, U'ot Dac Biet ($7). The portion was more than sufficient.
So what did I enjoy the most of this smorgasbord? Honestly, if I had to make a choice, I'd probably go with the blanched bean sprouts, really, I'm not trying to be a jerk or a smart aleck....but this was probably the blandest version of this dish I've ever had, and I've had my share from Vietnam to Little Saigon to San Diego. The Banh U'ot was thicker than I prefer and stuck together; the Cha Lua - pork roll was totally devoid of flavor, though I enjoyed the texture. There's usually a hint of flavor from the banana leaf and a mild porkiness to it. The nem chua, lacked the cured sourness that I really enjoy.
The pork in the Banh Cuon was dry and hard and the filling basically tasteless. The thickness of the rice itself, though thicker than I prefer in this case was decent. Usually, a good nuoc mam cham will save the dish.
Though this looked good, other than a decent amount of spice, it tasted watered down....bummer.
So, my search for good banh cuon in San Diego continues.....and I'm afraid all is for naught.
4141 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92105