I was in for a couple of surprises. First off, the configuration of the place had changed, with the register and counter now on the west side of the place.
Another big surprise; was the menu. There was a larger variety of dishes, with items like Bo Luc Lac and....gasp...Hainan Chicken!
So you know I just had to order it. I wasn't sure what I was going to get and was a bit shock at the portion size of this as it was just eight bucks! Man, that chicken was succulent and tender, but the flavor was really lacking in chicken flavor, nor the mild ginger or salt. I'm used to two different sauce with Hainan Chicken, the scallion-ginger sauce, which was absent, and a chili based sauce, with lime, chicken broth, and a touch of sweetness. This sauce really lacked zip. The worse part of the whole thing was that it was served with regular jasmine rice.....a ton of rice mind you, but I really missed the typical chicken-mild ginger flavored rice.
I was bummed, but the pork bone soup, porky and salty saved the meal for me. Ly Heng serves a falling off the bone chunk of pork rib in the soup which is just fine by me.
I returned a couple of weekends later, with the thought of trying something else new from the menu, but decided to just stick with the Pho Nam Vang......
Which turned out to be the right move on this day as I've mentioned before, in spite of tending to overcook the noodles a bit, of all the places that serve this in the area, Ly Heng is my favorite.
And that bone soup on this day was delicious.
And at $5.99, I ain't going to complain too much.
Perhaps I'll try some of the other dishes one of these days, but right now, I'm happy with that Pho Nam Vang.
Ly Heng 4451 University Ave San Diego, CA 92105 Hours: Thurs - Tues 8am - 8pm
Back in January, I noticed that Hao Vi was gone, replaced by Ly Heng. I was intrigued so I decided to stop by for a some noodle soup.
The interior look basically the same.... it seems like a nice family is running the place now.
The menu looked overwhelmingly Vietnamese, having seen the writing on the window, I asked the nice young man where their family was from. It turns out that they are from Cambodia. So, Ly Heng is one of those hybrid noodle houses, like Trieu Chau and 777 which reflect the family's travels.
I wanted to try the Hu Tieu Nam Vang - Phnom Penh Noodles, but they only had a Banh Pho version on the menu - which I ordered.
Served with blanched bean sprouts, I found the broth to be a bit too salty for me. The noodles were overcooked as well.
There was a nice variety of protein items, but nothing really stood out.
The nice young man told me that they had just opened and would soon be adding more items to the menu. So I decided to wait a couple of months to return.
Flash forward a whole six months....Ly Heng had slipped my mind. One Friday evening, MrQ mentioned how much he missed Hao Vi...... which reminded me that I had always intended to return to Ly Heng.
Man, look at the grafitti on the sign.....why on earth would folks waste their time defacing a business's sign like that?
The same folks were running the place and there seemed to be a few more items on the menu. I took my time looking over the menu this time and found one of my favorite dishes; Beef Sate Noodles, which I ordered "dry".
And guess what? They even had Hu Tieu.
To be perfectly honest, the highlite of the meal was the pork bone soup, which, though a bit on the salty side hit the spot, as did all that tender pork. This was more of a rib than pork leg bone, which suited me just fine.
There were a couple of slices of fairly tender beef. The "sate" in this case was mainly peanut and chili paste, lacking the shallots and other flavors that add complexity to the sauce. I will say that it might be the spiciest sate I've had.
The portion of noodles was very generous, and it was prepared well, with a nice stretch and not mushy.
While I wish the menu was more diverse, it's heavy on Vietnamese style noodles dishes - thre are many places in the area that do it just as well or better, I'll probably return and try something else.... so long it has that pork soup!
Nice people and decent prices.
Ly Heng 4451 University Ave San Diego, CA 92105 Hours: Thurs - Tues 8am - 8pm
About seven or eight months ago, I noticed that a new shop had opened across the street from the now (sadly) defunct 79 Supermarket. In the place of.... if I recall correctly a Billiard Hall, was a noodle shop called 777 Noodle House.
And while I initially thought it was just another "Mi" (egg noodle soup) joint, I noticed the script on the window, along with Hủ Tiếu Nam Vang written everywhere. Hủ Tiếu Nam Vang, also known as Phenom Penh Noodles or Chazhou Noodle, a tapioca noodle based dish that from what I have read originated in Cambodia, and evolved as it made it's into Southern Vietnam, becoming a dish I've had a couple of times Hủ tiếu Mỹ Tho(named after the city of Mỹ Tho) . Much more info can be found on this post on Viet World Kitchen. I was fascinated so I decided to check the place out.
The interior is fairly spartan, and the plasma television is always on Fox News for some reason. You can see the bones of what the place was in a former life. The menu is fairly large, with over 100 dishes.... and yes, all the prices end with '7'. The prices are very inexpensive, with bowls of noodle soup starting at $4.77, and the upper range of prices of $6.77 for items like seafood dishes at $6.77.
And yes, the owners are Cambodian, and also Chazhou (Chiuchow), so in case you were expecting the fragrances of Kroeung or Prahok wafting through the air, and Khmer dishes like A-Mok or Samla Kako, you'll be sorely disappointed. Most everything takes a Chazhou turn, with a few Thai style and Vietnamese style dishes.
So of course I had the Hủ Tiếu Nam Vang (Chazhou Noodle Soup - $4.77), which is pretty much a bargain.
I believe this is the first time I've had this without any offal in it. There are two slices of pretty lean, and somewhat chewy pork, that are decently flavored, and a couple of shrimp. Some ground pork floats around in the broth which is fairly light, somewhat porky, with some nice salty tones (MSG). The blanched bean sprouts adds texture and flavor to everything. But........ this doesn't hold a candle to the "dry" (Kho) version, also $4.77:
The noodles had been blanched in broth and was mixed with a bit of what tasted like oyster sauce. One time the noodles were perfect, the second a bit too mushy and overcooked. But what I really enjoyed about this version was the soup on the side.... well not exactly only the soup on the side.
You see what I mean, right? Honestly, which would you choose? This really isn't going to win any culinary prizes, but it left me more than satisfied. And the price was right.....
There's one more item that I really enjoyed.... the Fried Leek Cakes ($2.97):
The folks always apologize because this takes a while.... but it is worth it. The dough for the cakes is made with glutinous rice flour, making it both sticky, a bit gooey, and crunchy at the same time. The leek filling is molten as well. The flavors are like life... a little sweet, a little salty, a little bitter.
I brought my leftovers home, and the Missus really enjoyed it even though it was cold and had loss it's crunch. She wasn't a big fan of the Nuoc Mam Cham, which She found took away from the flavor of the leek cake. Speaking of the Nuoc Mam Cham. the folks here are really nice. When they packed the remaining two leek cakes to go, they made sure to add a little container of Nuoc Mam Cham. Those little things matter.
Some of the other dishes aren't as successful in my opinion. Once I had the Crispy Egg Noodles with Beef ($5.77), which was pretty cheap.
The noodles were either packaged or made far in advance. They were more crumbly than crisp. The beef was fairly tough, but at least they used Gailan. There's a combo Chinese Fast Food - Louisiana Fried Chicken Shop next door (I kid you not), and I think they share the same kitchen. This was very fast-foodish. I've heard that some of the other dishes (there are a bunch of dinner specials - many seem Thai, aka curries and tom yum) like the Fried Rice (I was listening "Little K") are pretty good.
I like the folks here, the two women are very nice, the gentleman is reserved but very nice as well. He laughed when I actually bought a lottery ticket here..... I told him it had to be lucky since I got it from "777", right? Well, maybe next time......
777 Noodle House 4686 University Avenue San Diego, CA 92105