After several visits to Pho Duyen Mai when they first opened a few months ago; I thought they really had some potential. The former owners of Pho Ban Mai had created a menu that was pretty much what they had served before. It's easy for me to do follow-up visits since they are close to work and opens relatively early, 9am giving me a decent late breakfast stop on "honey-doo" weekends.
Here's what I've had since my post back in September.
"Som Tommy" mentioned the Bo Luc Lac in the comments of my previous post. So I thought I'd give it whirl.
This was not bad. The marinated cubes of beef were quite tender; the overall dish wasn't too greasy. The flavor was much too salty and this could have used some sweetness, or even better, a good, citrusy Muoi Tieu Chanh, the lime - fish sauce based dip that is standard with Bo Luc Lac. The sauce that came with this was mostly fish sauce, making things even more salty.
Actually, I kind of enjoyed the buttery simple fried rice.
A few weeks later, early on a Saturday morning, a bit hungry, I decided to drop by again. The place was empty except for a family enjoying a nice breakfast.
I wasn't really sure what to order, but ended up going with the Bun Rieu.
The most interesting thing was the crab-pork-egg cake. I'm used to the firmer, almost squeaky version of this. But here it was a light, almost airy in texture, though still rather light in the taste department.
So, that other than a follow-up visit to retry the pho was going to be it for a while. Then my coworker, Calvin mentioned that even though they don't have Banh Mi Bo Kho on the menu, they have Pho Bo Kho, there's a photo of it in the menu. So he pointed to it one day and got the Banh Mi Bo Kho, which he really enjoyed. Now, in all honesty, in my opinion, Calvin doesn't have most sophisticated, educated palate, but I thought I'd give it a try.
This was pretty good; not on the level of, say, the version from Pho Lucky. Though if you care more about the amount of beef, some of which was tender and some of which was not, and don't care much for tendon you'll like this. The carrots were under cooked. The broth was not bad, better than what I'd recently had Cow Cali (in terms of texture and beefiness Pho Hoa Huong was better), but still too thin, light in tangy tomato or beefiness. It did taste like thickened pho broth with tomato and black pepper. The bread was nicely warm and toasted. Not bad overall, but I'll stick with Pho Lucky's version.
So there you go.....well, I did forget about the pho didn't I? I'm thinking I need to do another pho round-up one of these days......
The folks here have always been quite nice and I'm glad to see that, at least on weekends, there seems to be quite a few Vietnamese families having breakfast and lunch here.
Pho Duyen Mai
5375 Kearny Villa Rd
San Diego, CA 92123
Open Daily 9am - 9pm