As I mentioned last week, the unusually warm winter makes me feel like there's some unfinished business out there..... I really never got my share of soup, specifically soup this past year! So now that we're getting some cooler weather, I thought I'd take full advantage. I also received two very nice emails from "John", the first after my post on Pho 46 telling me about a place right down the street on Miramar Road named Pho Ha Noi, he was nice enough to email me about the place again after I mentioned the Brodard knock-off nem nuong cuon at Pho Ban Mai, telling me that Pho Ha Noi also made a similar version of the spring roll and wanted my opinion on it. So why the heck not, right?
Admittedly, I usually have a place in mind when I'm around this part of Miramar Road and really don't pay enough attention.....Geez Louise, I'd probably not have found this place at all if not for John. I'm trying to recall what used to be here before. Some kind of Chinese Fast Food joint? The steam table set-up is still in place.
Anyway, the nice young lady handed me a menu and I started with the Nem Nuong Cuon ($6.99).
Now if the version at Pho Ban Mai is, say a cousin of Brodard, this would be some distant relative twice removed. It's not very good, too loosely wrapped, the meat was kind of greasy, along with being kind of sparse with salad mix carrots and such. There was that little crispy strip, but the sauce was kind of bland as well.
As for my pho, I ordered the #9 - Well-done steak, Brisket, tendon, tripe ($6.99). For some reason, I just didn't feel right ordering rare beef here, better to try the other proteins first.
At first glance, I didn't find the look of the broth to be very impressive; too cloudy, too low in oil, it just kind of reminded me of Pho T Cali. Like the appearance, the flavor was light, slight anise flavor, and not quite savory enough for my taste. At least it wasn't too salty. The noodles were perfect, nicely prepped, with a mild pull to them. The proteins were passable; the tendon was chewy, but not too bad, the brisket was tough, and the tripe had that mild, almost soapy aftertaste of something that hasn't been prepared the way I like.
I thought this was ok, nothing to go out of my way for, and I think Pho 46 has a ever so slightly better broth, though the noodles here were better.
Still, it was nice to try someplace new......I'm hoping to try a couple more places while the weather is still on the cooler side.
Pho Ha Noi
6904 Miramar Rd
San Diego, CA 92121