Guess I really don't get around that much anymore. I didn't see this shop until I dropped by Royal Mandarin to pick up some salt-and-pepper chicken wings for a pot luck.
It was close enough to lunch time like 10:15 or so and I was feeling a bit hungry.
In spite of the rather "old school" name and logo, this place is really nicely put together. Well spaced tables, none of which are sticky, brightly lit, clean....Servers smile and wave you to your tables.
The menu has all the usual suspects. And while I'd usually go for a bowl of pho during any maiden voyage, it was still really hot and unusually sticky. And I saw someone having the Bo Kho as I walked to my table, so I went with the Banh Mi Bo Kho.
This was not bad at all. While not quite as rich as I prefer; there was a hint of beefiness to the broth. Anise and black pepper tones were more pronounced. Likewise, more of a soup than a "stew". I'm thinking things were done to not offend as there was only one piece of tendon to be had, but it was decently tender. Lots of beef, some with rather chewy connective tissue, but still rather tender, moist, no off flavors.
The bread was standard issue, but prepared well, crusty, nicely hot and toasted.
So it comes down to the "little things"; the two pieces of carrot were basically raw; I could have used more onion, and the broth was a bit too thin. But overall, this was pretty good, better than most I'd say.
I made a note to return...well, because you know how I am, right? Though I waited until things cooled down.
And I went with good 'ol number 1......while I'm usually not a big fan of the rare steak served at most pho places in San Diego (even my favorites), I usually order this just to get a view of how all the various proteins are handled.
A decent, passable, albeit overly defatted broth.
As for the proteins; the rare steak was passable, not overly dry, but still without much flavor. The flank and brisket were good, nice beefy tones, not overly tough. The meatball was the standard issue squeaky orb.
There was but one piece of tendon, which was nicely prepared, adequately tender.
The tripe had that somewhat soapy flavor that I'm not very fond of. And like the tendon, there was but one (thankfully) strand of it in the bowl.
The noodles were done perfectly; decent chew, not mushy, and not in a tight clump at the bottom of the bowl. Some folks don't understand, that yes, it does matter to me. And yes, I will write 200 words to describe that bowl of pho I just had..... Because it does matter to me.
And, I was pleasantly surprised. As this was a totally decent bowl of pho. Man, it does seem like pho in these parts is getting better.
Nice service, there quite a bit of staff to customers, so things seem to get done quickly. The folks are pleasant. They seem to cater to kids and families. There was a play area at the back of the restaurant.
I'd certainly come here every so often if I lived in the area.
Pho 7 Cow
1025 Highland Ave
National City, CA 91950
Open Daily 10am - 9pm