The chashu while well flavored and moist, was just too much of a good thing and I left quite full. Still, the noodles were again perfect, just the right amount of pull with a bit of pull, nice and slippery, and a good vehicle for the collagen in the broth, which was, like my previous visit, a solid tonkotsu.
About two weeks later, I found out my haircut guy was working relatively close by and having read about the crowds in the comments on my post....I was curious. I got there at 1045...and no kidding; there were over 30 people waiting in line.
I'm usually not one to wait in line; but I was curious if this new popularity would change anything about the ramen at Ultra. So I put my name on the list....and waited about 30 minutes to get in.
I went with the Ajitama Ramen with an extra egg.
While the noodles were still perfect for my taste and the boiled egg was much better.....lukewarm instead of cold and not as "cooked". There were several things I noticed. The broth had less of a fragrance and indeed, while being fairly mild and nuanced before, was much less rich....more fatty, but lacking in the real noodle coating capacity. It was still good....just not quite as good as my previous two visits.
I'll wait a few months before going back. It'll be interesting to see how things progress. I think it's still the best straight up tonkotsu in San Diego.
Menya Ultra Ramen 8199 Clairemont Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92111
Pho T Cali is basically within walking distance from my office.....but of course my previous experiences kind of keep me away....but I just had to see......had it really hit the "ten dollar pho" category?
Upon arriving and having the menu handed to me....I saw...yes indeed, the dac biet was now $9.95.
So for ten bucks I got this.
The broth had almost no color and had a strong onion taste. It looked like dishwater. While the texture of the tripe was good, it had a strange aftertaste; the tendon was decent though. The portion of noodles was quite large and adequately prepared.
The serving of sprouts and such was paltry to say the least.
I think this is why I saw folks (I was the only Asian in the place) dumping in loads of Hoisin and Sriracha into their pho.
On a rather amusing note; a few days later I received an email from "AlanH" regarding Pho T Cali....I'm hoping you won't mind me using a few excerpts Alan? Some of the, ahem, "highlites" of his email were....
"A -small- Pho "Chin" is now $8.95 (I almost walked out at that point, but was too hungry for Pho)"
"They have totally dumbed and stripped down the menu, which should have been my first warning sign...They have gone to the all photo model with a bit of basic text with prices. "
"The "herbal accessory plate" was its usual mediocre affair, but the basil was even more paltry and under-developed than usual (if the basil was human it would have needed a wheelchair)."
"As they do not serve / have Ngo Gai, I asked for a small portion / bowl of cilantro...THEY WERE OUT OF F'ING CILANTRO!!!!!" " Is there a cilantro shortage I was not aware of?"
"I just paid $11.00 (with tip) for a mediocre -at best- bowl of Pho. Is this Manhattan? No, this is not Manhattan......Manhattan would have had cilantro....."
All I can say Alan is...."I feel (or ate...or something like that) your pain".
Pho T Cali 7351 Clairemont Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92111
This has me wondering....in a very twisted way; if I were to think the Pho at Pho Mignon is still worse than this.
And was not too impressed with the broth. Which while not bland as it had some hints of anise; it was way too salty and barely had any beef flavor. I couldn't bring myself to finish the bowl.
The proteins were decent though and the noodles, while the usual clump at the bottom of the bowl wasn't over done.
This was ok and I wasn't planning on having pho here anytime soon. But that Beef Rib Bones sign stuck in my head.
Curious I returned and ordered a regular sized pho ($7) and them bones ($3). Which turned out to be three good sized ribs bones which I believe is used for making the broth.
This was pretty good; not boiled into a mess; there was still some nice connective tissue; tendon and stuff, with a decent amount of meat. In spite of the pho broth still being way too salty, I scraped the meat off the bone and dipped it into the broth. I had added a touch of lime to temper the saltiness a bit and this ended up being quite good.
In fact, I enjoyed the rib meat had a lot more than any of the cuts in the bowl.
And while I wish the broth here was a bit less salty, richer, with more beef flavor, it was a nice foil for that rib meat. I cleaned "dem bones" up pretty good.
I was rather satisfied with this. Not cheapo at ten bucks, but someone just told me that a bowl at Pho T Cali, which is mediocre at best, set them back twelve bucks! Framed in that manner, this was a bargain.
Pho Duyen Mai 5375 Kearny Villa Rd San Diego, CA 92123
Along with Krispy Krunchy Chicken, Saigon 5 occupies a space in the new 99 Ranch Market Foodcourt. They also open at 9am, which, with my current wacky schedule makes it quite convenient for grabbing lunch at say; 10am.
My understanding is that this is owned by the same folks who run Saigon on Fifth.
I've found this location of 99 Ranch Market to be fairly empty every time I've visit. At 10am on a weekday; the place looked like a ghost town.
Not sure what to get; folks who emailed me mentioned stuff like Pho Bo Kho, which I believe was a special. There were no specials during my three visits, so I was stuck with the regular menu. On my first visit, I just got a simple Dumpling Egg Noodle Soup ($6.95), which was nicely priced.
I appreciated the nice little addition of the pork neck, which kept me busy digging little bits of meat out of the crevices. Enjoyed the greens in the broth as well. The broth was a bit on the "thin" side for me. I think it could have been a bit richer, but the flavor, while on the mild side, mostly salt-pepper, was fine.
The dumplings were on the chewy side; though each one had a piece of shrimp (no, don't get excited, not a whole shrimp) in it. Again, a little weak in pork-shrimp and light with regards to seasoning.
The egg noodles were done right, a slight pull and crunch.
This was not bad at all.
So I returned and went with the Pho Dac Biet ($8.95). The comparison to the "Mi" was night and day. I think I have a contender for the worst pho in the area.
A couple of meatballs and some tasteless, chewy well done steak....that's what almost nine bucks got me. The broth was insipid, almost like just salt, water, and perhaps someone gleefully waved a beef bone over the broth to hopefully impart some flavor. It's almost like they used the same broth as the egg noodle soup, but with even less flavor. The noodles were all chopped short and mushy, totally over cooked.
Less said the better.....I'm trying to forget this bowl.
A couple of weeks later I returned and decided on the Banh Mi Dac Biet ($4.50) as my tie-breaker.
The bread was starting to go, you could tell by the texture. It was also ice cold. I liked the pate, which was nice. Rich and funky. Though the person who applied had pressed so hard into the bread causing one long divot of mushy bread from one end to the other. The pork belly and a cha lua were fine; but on the dry side. They also really like a lot of black pepper here. The pickled daikon and carrots were shredded fine and quite crisp; but in my opinion had not been pickled well as it lacked zip.
I'm not sure what to think about this place. My first visit was pretty good, but that pho was just not good, and while the banh mi was below average, there are places that do better, and are open early.
The service was fine, Both young women who work here are pleasant, though one seems a bit detached.
Saigon 5 5950 Balboa Ave (Inside 99 Ranch Market) San Diego, CA 92111
The mmm-yoso!!! gang has been busy for the past few days, with work, holiday parties, shopping trips and other end of year tasks. Kirk and Ed (from Yuma) haven't had time to write and Cathy is writing a short, pertinent compendium today.
We have had some very cold days this month and today it is wet and windy: Winter has hit San Diego. Kirk mentioned this last week. If The Mister and I aren't staying home and cooking, when eating out, at least one of us is ordering a warm meal that is served in a bowl and has a spoon as an essential utensil.
Kirk had mentioned that Mama Testa was re-opening, but neither of us has done a post. I've had the chicken mojados here ($10): rolled taquitos, cut and topped with lettuce and sour cream with a mild, chicken based broth on the side; you can pour it over everything to make an interesting soup-type meal. (The beef mojados is beef rolled taquitos and a spicy, red broth). This is unique and tasty. Mama Testa 9225 Mira Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92126 website
The Bahn Mi Bo Kho ($7.50) at Lucky Seafood is indeed the best Vietnamese style beef stew; I have tried versions everywhere, planned on doing a comparison post and was frustrated with so many bad meals. Pho Lucky 9326 Mira Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92126
Whenever The Mister and I stop at Chopstix Too, He takes His time looking at the entire menu and alwaysorders the same thing, mabo ramen ($7.45). Chopstix Too 4380 Kearny Mesa Road San Diego 92111 website We were back at Pho Hoa Huong after grocery shopping (and looking for 2017 calendars) and stopped in for a large bowl of pho tai ($7.25) which arrived with the beef still raw and cooking in the hot, flavorful broth. PhoHoa Huong 6921 Linda Vista Rd San Diego, CA 92111 Kirk had called his meals at Sam Woo BBQ 'early lunch'. The menu lists these under 'breakfast' ($4.25 each). I almost always order the fish porridge, but another choice is the shrimp dumpling noodle soup. Each is good and satisfying. Sam Woo BBQ 7330 Clairemont Mesa Blvd Ste 103 San Diego, CA 92111 An Item I haven't mentioned that is served at Tip Top Meats is the Beef Stew ($6.98). Made daily from scratch, limited in quantity, this rich, meaty, traditional stew is great. Tip Top Meats and European Delicatessen 6118 Paseo Del Norte Carlsbad, CA 92009 Website
Stay warm and dry!
Then again, you can just drop into a local grocer (this was at H-Mart) and grab something to enjoy at home.
If there was one thing I missed during our last trip abroad, it would be noodle soup. That's the first thing I wanted when we got back. After a pretty warm start to November, we finally got some cooler weather, then even some rain.
So, having to work that weekend morning; I dropped by Mien Trung on the way to the office.
The place was empty and would stay that way for my entire visit. Except for three sets of customers coming in, to get pots of Bun Bo Hue for catering. I hadn't seen the young man at the counter in ages; it was nice seeing a familiar smiling face.
Then he told me that "Mom and Dad are on vacation"....uh-oh. In the past this was a bad sign. I be certain that the quality and the flavors of the food would be sub-standard.
I'm happy to say that this was not true.
The broth wasn't overloaded with MSG and the distinct lemongrass flavor came through. The spicy buzz of chilies on my tongue lasted through the entire meal. The broth was scalding hot, a must when it comes to these type of soups since, if you're like me, that entire pile of greens and sprouts will end up in the bowl. The noodles were firm and slippery, and the meat, which is usually rustically cut thick and rather tough seemed a bit more tender. Granted, it's not the same bowl I first had over a decade ago, but I think it's still the BBH in San Diego.
I left the place, having built up a nice sweat......not having spicy food in a while had kinda lowered my tolerance. But that nice little chili pepper buzz kept on going.
So perhaps I'm not worried about the day that "Mom" retires any more.
Mien Trung Restaurant 7530 Mesa College Dr San Diego, CA 92111
Pho Hiep and Grill - Linda Vista:
Along with all of these weather changes comes some side effects. In my case, my biennial raging sinus infection. After stopping off at the nearby drugstore to get meds I decided some hot soup might help clear things up a bit. And Pho Hiep and Grill was right around the corner. It had been almost a year since I last visited.
Anyway, I went with #4 - small sized.
The broth was a lot more clear than what I'd had on my previous visit. It also wasn't overloaded with MSG this time. It was however, pretty darn bland, lacking in beefy flavors, anise, or a even a slight sweetness. Perhaps my olfactory system was on the fritz, but I'm usually pretty good with regards to tastes even when I have a sinus infection. I added a bit of lime and I could clearly taste that.
The herbs and sprouts were turning brown, something I often see during the winter, but the portion size, something that has been quickly shrinking at most places was decent.
The brisket and tendon were quite good, though the fatty flank was very rubbery and there were but a few shreds of tripe.
The noodles fine and decently stretchy.
Kind of a mixed bag, but definitely not as good as I've had here before.
Pho Hiep & Grill 6947 Linda Vista Road San Diego, CA 92111
So returning from my trip, I needed a haircut....you know where this is going right? Well, Haircut Guy was now working in Spring Valley! Spring Valley? Like I said before, his moving around allows me to visit areas of San Diego I'd usually not explore. But where to go after my haircut? My first thought was Ranas, since I hadn't been back in years. Instead, having to get back home rather quickly; I saw this place in the same parking lot as a gas station.
I knew of Pho Minh in PB, but didn't know they had a location out here on the fringes of Spring Valley.
So I decided to drop by and have a bowl of pho.
The restaurant is quite tiny, though things are not crowded together. The two women who I've dealt with here are quite friendly and it seems they have a nice regular clientele.
Of course I went with the Pho Dac Biet.....just to see what was up. For some reason, I decided to order the large size ($7.99).
My order actually took a while, but the bowl was huge. I liked that the rare steak, in spite of being the usual rather tough top round, was still rare when the bowl arrived. Most of the proteins; the brisket, et al, were pretty bland, though the textures, especially the tendon was pretty much spot on.
I expected the sprouts and basil to be fairly sparse and it was.
And while the noodles were in the usual clump on the bottom of the bowl, it wasn't soft and mushy, and not cold.
The broth wasn't terrible, a bit too defatted for my taste, and while not very beefy, had a mild sweetness and wasn't too salty. So I didn't need very much lime to help balance things out. I've had much worse in Kearny Mesa.
I've worked every single day since we got back from our trip. Such is the biz. Still, my hair doesn't stop growing, and I needed a fresh trim....I had consultants coming into town and meetings with our customers. So, it was back out to Spring Valley for a rather quick turnaround haircut. So, as is the norm, I returned to Pho Minh. I'd seen Bo Kho on the menu, but when I ordered it, I was told that they don't make that at this location any longer. I had to make some quick choices. I quickly went with the standard spring roll, Goi Cuon ($3.95).
So when I said standard issue; I mean standard issue. Man, look at all that lettuce. Basically a salad in rice paper. And the shrimp was overcooked and rather chewy. Very generic and not something I'd order here again.
I noticed that there was a sign that listed Chicken Wings ($7.40), so I decided to get those as well.
So these were deep fried, then topped with stir fried onions and peppers to give it some umph. These were fairly small wings; which doesn't bother me because I'm more about the ratio of skin to meat. However, half of the wings were slightly burnt, making the exterior bitter, not good eats. Also, these were overcooked and rather dry. The flavor of the wings, the parts that weren't charred, was fairly bland, which explains the need for the "topping". Not my favorite rendition of chicken wings to be sure.
So in the end; possibly passable pho. Really nice folks, though perhaps a stop-gap, but not a destination for my pho-fix. Though I'm glad to have had the chance to visit a locale I usually wouldn't have on my list. As my haircut was complete and I paid my barber, he mentioned that he'd probably be moving on....business here was too slow. So who knows where he'll pop up next?
Pho Minh & Grill 2615 Sweetwater Springs Blvd Spring Valley, CA 91978
What really piqued my interest was when my good friend "YummyYummy" told me that this place had some relationship to Pho Ban Mai. I also noticed that the place opens at 9am, which was great. As I mentioned earlier, my schedule is now chocked full of meetings, often between 11 am and 1 pm. So having another early lunch option was great. One morning, having had meetings from 7am all the way to 930, I was starving. I usually get to work between 6 and 630 and hadn't eaten anything that morning. I had meeting scheduled out to the early afternoon, so I escaped for a quick meal at Duyen Mai.
They've done a nice job with the place....actually done a bit of renovation. The menu really did look like Ban Mai.
I was ravenous, but really didn't want any noodle soup....I had on a light colored shirt and really didn't want to embarrass myself with blots of soup stains on my shirt. I just don't wear them with as much style as Ed from Yuma does after a meal at Mien Trung!
I decided to try the Chicken Wings in Fish Sauce ($9).
These were nicely glazed, though not as crisp as I prefer. The sauce was adequate, slightly sweet, savory, with the distinct flavor of ginger. The actual meat was on the dry side. Adequate, but nothing special.
If there was one dish which almost never let me down at Pho Ban Mai, it was the Banh Xeo ($8.50).
This was pretty much like what I had on my last visit to Pho Ban Mai early last year. The batter was light, though without as much coconut flavor as I recall, and not too oily at all. It was pretty light in the filling department; especially with regards to pork. Still, it's all about proportion with this, so this was not bad. The nuoc mam cham tasted a little watered down; but the herbs and lettuce were sparkling fresh. I could only finish half and took the rest back to the office; where "R" just devoured it. Apparently, she's a fan of Banh Xeo.
The folks here are very nice and friendly. I had short chat with the woman who I believe is the owner. She informed me that the had sold Pho Ban Mai a while back and after a break decided to open another restaurant.
I returned that weekend. I was surprised to see the place doing decent business on a weekend morning. While the customers seemed split 50-50 on my previous week. This time all were Vietnamese.
I recalled that "JanFrederick" had mentioned the Bun Bo Hue in the comments on my original post on Pho Ban Mai. I'd really never had the chance to try it. So, I decided to finally order it ($8).
In terms of Pho Shop BBH, this was ok. Basically, doctored up pho broth. It had some sneaky spice and the noodles were firm and slippery, but it really lacked the deep lemongrass-funky flavor of a great bowl of BBH. Not a fan of the beef which crumbled into little pieces when I tried to pick it up with chopsticks.
The herbs and greens were on the sparse side, but very fresh. I might try this again one day, but not for a while.
Returning to work and more lunch time meetings, I returned to Duyen Mai. This time I wore appropriately dark clothes. It was also about time I try the Nem Nuong Cuon.
Yep, these were the same "Brodard light" rolls as I'd had at Ban Mai. On the good side, not too tightly wrapped, fresh, herbs, and scallion. On the other hand; I find the dipping sauce to be rather bland and am not fond of the texture of it and on this visit, the fried egg roll wrapper was on the burnt side and gave off a bitter flavor.
I also ordered the Pho Filet ($10)....but due to mental vapor lock, forgot to ask them to put the meat on the side.
So of course the beef was overdone by the time it got to my table. In spite of that; the beef was very tender and had no off flavors. The clump of noodles at the bottom of the bowl was decent, not overcooked. The broth was interesting; perhaps a bit too defatted and quite dark. The flavor was onion forward, almost no beefiness, light anise, but at least it didn't have too much MSG. In spite of the rather over-powering sweetness of the broth, I think I prefer Char House.
Like all previous meals; while light on the quantity, the sprouts and basil were very fresh. I probably should drop by and try their house pho one of these days.
One tip....right now, all the spring rolls are a buck a piece. I don't see it mentioned anywhere. Even though the typical order is 3; they'll ask you how many you want and just charge you $1 each!
Finally, this past weekend, one last weekend visit. Again, all the customers seemed to be VN.
I ordered the Goi Cuon Bi - the spring rolls with shredded pork and pork skin.
This was pretty good; it was wrapped a bit too tight, but the "bi" wasn't too dry and actually had rice powder on it. Loved the herbs; the mint really brought the flavor of this up. The nuoc mam cham on this visit was quite good and not watered down.
Not feeling like soup or anything heavy; I ordered the Goi Ngo Sen ($10.99); the Shrimp and Pork Lotus Stem Salad.
I haven't had this in ages. Apparently this version has jellyfish in it....I saw but a few thin strands. This was mostly julienned carrots and cucumbers, with a generous dose of bean sprouts. There were quite a bit of shrimp; which had been sliced in half lengthwise. Not much pork and a few lotus stem, which were buried away at the bottom of the salad. It was dressed a bit too light for me, so I dumped the remaining sauce from the Goi Cuon Bi on it which helped. At least I ate healthy, right? And those spring rolls were still just a buck a piece.....
I really like the folks here; they smile and are pretty friendly. If I bring folks here; I'd probably stick with the spring rolls and the banh xeo....I'm sure folks would enjoy them. The menu is rather vast; I recall enjoying a couple of other dishes at Ban Mai, so I'll probably try them here in the future. Hmmmm.....I need to return to Ban Mai as well......
You might as well check them out while they're still a dollar a piece. I have a feeling that when that Grand Opening sign comes down; the prices will go up!
Pho Duyen Mai 5375 Kearny Villa Rd San Diego, CA 92123 Open Daily 9am - 9pm
While completing my weekend "honey doo" lists a while back; I decided to return to Pho Hoa. Man, it's been like three years since I last visited this City Heights institution. And while I think this place has slipped over the years; the parking lot was almost filled when I arrived at 0845 on a weekend morning. So it's obviously one of the top choices in the area on a weekend morning.
Pho Hoa is totally old school; from the paying at the register, to the banquet chairs and sticky tables, to the menu being tossed at you and the Server hovering over you like it's expected that you've been here before and already know what to order....the menu is merely a vehicle that symbolizes all that Pho Hoa has. And what Pho had on this day was the same item I had last time #4.....which is now $7.40. All my experiences with the "tai" here have not been pleasant; there's a tendency for the meat to have a metallic taste to it. So I stick with the flank, brisket, tendon, and tripe.
This time around, the broth was much more acceptable, slightly beefy, not too heavy on the MSG, perhaps defatted a bit too much for my taste. The tendon was also decent as was the tripe. For some reason the flank and brisket fell short on this visit, the flank too tough and dry and the brisket lacking flavor.
There's one thing that has never fallen short here...it's the basil, cilantro (Ngo Gai), and sprouts.....always a generous portion, always sparkling fresh. I didn't need the lime today to balance out the broth, a good thing.
The noodles were also perfect.
These days, I sometimes fall into the trap of waxing nostalgically about the borderline indifferent, perfunctory, and hovering service.......I've noticed that things have changed at some of these places like Pho Hoa Huong. Even here, the guy smiled when he delivered my bowl of pho. The guy running the cash register even told me "thank you", when giving me my change. Changing times, I guess. I'm not sure when I'll be back to Pho Hoa, but at least this time around I got a decent bowl.
Pho Hoa Restaurant 4717 El Cajon Blvd San Diego, CA 92115
And while my last go around with Pho Hut wasn't bad; this was disappointing.
Well, at least the egg noodles were decent, not overcooked. But the broth was basically MSG water, lacking any depth, the char siu was tough and tasteless, and as with previous visits, the dumpling fillings just floated away from the wrappers....I guess you could look at the wrappers and say it's just another noodle and this should be pseudo meatball egg noodle soup.
Pho Hut & Grill 5252 Balboa Ave San Diego, CA 92117
And it did to a certain extent as the chashu was low on flavor and tough, so the kakuni pork did quite well. The noodles were nice and firm. Calvin loves the fresh pressed garlic with his ramen, while I think in this bowl it kills all the other flavors. I still think the broth could be hotter as it cooled quite quickly. The egg was decent, but the broth is not what it was when Yamadaya first opened.....lacking in flavor and richness.
The guys really enjoyed the Tori Nanban; the "Chicken Tartar" more.
Crisp, nice ginger tones, with a dose of vinegar........really good this time around.
As a bonus, John and Calvin treated me to lunch! Thanks guys!
Ramen Yamadaya 4706 Clairemont Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92117
Recently, I was picking up my dry cleaning, when the nice lady who runs the place asked me what I thought about the new pho place that opened up nearby. I hadn't even noticed! I guess I kinda forget about The Village at Morena Vista. So I drove by and saw a grand opening sign for "Pho Kitchen". For some reason the name sounded familiar. A couple of days later I returned to try them out.
It's a very nice and clean little shop. There's both wood paneling and vintage Vietnamese black and white photos here. I guess they're not taking any design chances!
The young lady who took my order on both my visits was an absolute joy; kind, friendly, and efficient. What more could one ask for? Other than good pho, right? I also asked her if they had another restaurant in these parts since the name sounded familiar. She smiled and said "yes, Pho Kitchen in Oceanside". So there you go. I thought the name rung a bell.
The pho here was not too bad; definitely "pho not to offend", very mild, not too beefy, low in oil/fat, no anise/pungent flavors, but not terrible. The MSG level was not too high, the broth was super hot; like scalding hot, which I enjoy. The proteins were decent; the rare steak was actually pretty good, not the usual slices of cardboard, though everything else was just ok; the tendon was too tough and the rest pretty bland.
As expected with the target pho audience here; the place was light on the sprouts and herbs, though both were sparkling fresh. The noodles weren't in the usual clump, which was nice, but over cooked and a bit too mushy for my taste.
It was actually a not bad bowl.
Which meant I needed to revisit and try something else. After the pho, I was interested in the Bo Kho, so I got he Banh Mi Bo Kho ($8).
Much like the pho; this version of beef stew was rather mild in flavor, no tangy-anise tones, though slightly beefy, the carrots severely undercooked. The stew was on the thin side, but there were 5 rather large pieces of fork tender beef. Only one piece of tendon, which was not bad in texture. I would have enjoyed a bit more cilantro and onions. The bread was interesting as it reminded me more of a bolillo than a typical banh mi and had a mild sweetness to it. It was nicely warm and toasted though.
So here's the deal. Pho Kitchen and Pho Hut are about equidistant from my house and in opposite directions. In this case; I'd choose Pho Kitchen. If I'm looking for pho as I know and enjoy; I'd choose one of the more traditional places in Linda Vista, though I don't think they've held up well in recent years. If I want a relaxing pace, with middle of the road pho, but really nice service, it's Pho Kitchen hands down......unless I want to get the hell out of Dodge in 20 minutes or less. In that case, I'd go with the "fastest pho in the West". The prices are in line with all those "modern pho" places that seem to be popping up recently.