It seems that I'm finally getting back into some semblance of a routine and I finally got back over to City Heights/Rolando for a look see. It's probably been about 2 months since I was last around here. Turning on University from 54th I quickly noticed that Pho Tay Do was gone, replaced by a very familiar name.
Dakao....wow. I'm not sure of the whole backstory of Dakao, but I do understand that it is one of those treasured "brands/names" that evokes reactions. The neighborhoof of Đa Kao in Vietnam is reknown for the Pho Ga - chicken noodle soup. In fact, the last time I had a decent bowl of Pho Ga was at DaKao in Little Saigon...it was quite good, I believe the place even had it's own poultry shop on Bolsa.
So, no brainer right?
The interior has been pared down and looks even more spartan that Tay Do.
Of course I got the Pho Da Dakao (small $5.95).
The white meat chicken was surprisngly tender if lacking in flavor.
The broth was much too light, falling short with regards to having a nice poultry flavor, and was super salty......and I like salt and MSG, but in appropriate amounts. This one made my feet swell after just a couple of sips.
The noodles were horrendous, really mushy, not very pleasant to eat at all.
The young lady serving me was very nice as was the young lady working the cash register. I was on the fence about coming back, but I try to do my due diligence with places like this so I decided to return.
This time around I paid a bit more attention to things and noticed something on the front cover of the menu....apparently, this location of Dakao is a franchise that looks like is from Texas....so nhbilly, know anything about these guys?
Since I thought the chicken in the Pho Ga was okay, why not go for the Com Ga Hai Nam.....Hainan Chicken Rice ($6.25). It's actually a pretty good looking dish.
The chicken was very moist, of course it was bony, it's a leg after all, so it was a bit ponderous eating it. The flavor was pretty straight forward and lacking any flavoring from aromatics. It was nicely poached though.
The rice was a tragedy, it was hard, dry, and worst of all, lacking in the true flavor of the rice that should be served with this dish.....there was a faint chicken flavor...very faint. Usually the rice is cooked with the poaching liquid of the chicken, along with some chicken fat, then garlic, ginger, shallots, and sometimes lemongrass is added for depth. This had none of the above.
So I don't know......I'll probably drop by again in maybe a couple of months? It's slim pickins with regards to pho ga in San Diego. But as you know, I'm not the kind of guy who is "just happy to have it"...... Hopefully, things will get better...there's potential, so we'll see. Will it remain one of those places with untapped potential as Pho Tay Do did?
Pho Dakao And Grill
5296 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92105
Open Daily 8am - 9pm