Once upon a time; I considered Lucky and Cow Cali to be my favorite pho shops in San Diego. But recently, I've had some less than stellar visits. The weather had been strangely December like over the last couple of weeks; so I thought I'd drop by and see how thing were.
Well, this did hit the spot. Though the stew is not quite as thick as it used to be. There's a light anise flavor, a decent dose of black pepper, a mild tanginess to it all. Though I'm not sure what was up with the herbs.....I don't recall getting as much of it during previous visits.
There was quite a bit more meat than I recall having before. The tendon and connective tissue looked quite tough, but wasn't. It was nice beefy goodness. The carrots were cooked decently, not hard in the center, and the standard issue banh mi was toasted nicely.
A pretty good meal overall. During this visit, I noticed that there were some new items on the menu. I specifically noticed Hu Tieu Nam Vang Kho, which got my attention as it is a dish that I usually go City Heights to get when I have a craving. So, I returned the following weekend to try it out.
So here's the thing. I found this to be quite "different" in a way. First; the hu tieu was severely over cooked and mushy. Second, there's usually some sauce; usually a combination of soy...maggi, or whatever either at the bottom of the bowl or poured over the noodles. This had nothing. I was kind of puzzled. Then, on queue the gentleman came over with a standard issue bottle of maggi sauce. Sigh......
There were two slices of leathery char siu....and a ton of really dry; leathery, and bitter tasting liver. I tried eating one piece and it was terrible.
The other thing I found different as the greasy, pork based "gravy", much like what is served with the Hu Tieu My Tho at Pho King; except it was really bland.
The best two things about the dish was the Chinese celery and the broth; which was quite rich and comforting.
I really thought they might have served me something else from the new menu, but the receipt confirmed I got what I ordered (I think).
I'm still a bit gun shy with regards to the pho here as it has seemed to have gone downhill over the last years or so. So maybe now it's only the Bo Kho?
9326 Mira Mesa Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92126
Pho Cow Cali:
Speaking of pho.......I was wanting a bowl of pho and decided to revisit Cow Cali. After my last visit here, I had pretty much decided to stick to the pho.
I arrived at 10am and the place was already almost filled. I'm not a fan of the rare steak (tai) here; so I stuck with the flank, brisket, tendon, and tripe.
The amount of herbs and sprouts provided was on the stingy side. The broth, in what seems to be an increasing trend here in San Diego, was "sweeter" than I recalled. It was also not as rich. It did have some beefiness to it, with mild anise tones.
The noodles were a perfect stretchy and the proteins, as is usually the case here was the highlite of the bowl. Especially the brisket; though the flank was nice and beefy and very tender. The tendon looks really tough, but is not bad at all.
Not the best bowl of pho I've had here, but it did the trick.
Pho Cow Cali
9170 Mira Mesa Blvd
San Diego, CA 92126
I left wondering.....is it just me, or is the state of pho in San Diego on the downswing?