Kirk is on (another) vacation, Ed (from Yuma) is enjoying Yuma and Cathy is writing this post about food for mmm-yoso!!!
The weather in San Diego has been unusual so far this year, from freezing temperatures to heavy, flooding rains, damaging winds and then yesterday, temperatures in the 90's. It's confusing on how to dress-layering a sweater over a long sleeve t-shirt over a short sleeve shirt seems necessary. Then 'what's for lunch' diverges into thoughts of both warming soups to refreshing salads. A recent solution was found at Pho Pasteur, which I've writtenabout,several times. Not much here has changed over the years; still the same glass top over pink tablecloths and consistent food. The mall, however lost its anchor business on August 4 last year and it seems that permitting to rebuild has taken a very long time.
Since I am the 'always chilly' person lately, a bowl of my favorite Mien Ga (bean thread with chicken soup) ($6.99) was the plan for this meal.The add-ins were used for the 'second half' of this bowl, making the flavor profile a bit different, like a new bowl of soup. Both The Mister and I enjoy trying various versions of Banh Xeo ($5.99) and the pancake with its light turmeric flavor and crunchiness with fresh fillings of pork, shrimp, bean sprouts and mung bean was just right when wrapped inside pieces of lettuce and mint and dipped in the bowl of Nuoc Cham (sweet, salty and sour!).Two summers ago, I was in search of the best version of Goi Bo (beef salad) ($10.99) and after much comparison shopping, the final determination is that my favorite version is made at Pho Pasteur Anh Hong. The slices of cooked marinated beef mixed with the thin, thin uniquely sliced (regular and pickled) vegetables, chopped peanuts and basil combine to make this salad so satisfying as a meal.
All in all, a really good hot/cold meal.
Pho Pasteur Ahn Hong 7612 Linda Vista road San Diego 92111 (858) 569-7515
This was pretty good, Better than what I had the last time around. The broth was light, pork-chicken, with just a touch of oil, savory, and not overly salty this time around. The charsiu was on the bland side and the two won tons were on the tough side, the 4 dumplings were also kind of chewy. The egg noodles were quite nice, good chew. Nice and simple, a nice breakfast. This got me wondering if this might be better than the version at Minh Ky.
Tim Ky Noodle 9330 Mira Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92126
So yesterday, before the storm moved in; under the overcast sky, I headed up to Minh Ky.
And while I usually order the Beef Sate Noodle - Dry here; I went with the won ton and dumpling egg noodle soup. Which, while packed with stuff, looked quite light.
The differences were quite striking. The egg noodles here were not quite as yellow as the version at TimKy and also thinner. It was also nice and al dente, the noodles probably went to MK as did the charsiu, the dumplings, and the won tons which were much more tender that I ever recalled having here. Perhaps getting here before the crowds descend (0830) makes a difference?
I think the broth at Tim Ky was slightly better, mainly due to the richness, but overall, I still think Minh Ky is better overall.
Minh Ky Restaurant 4644 El Cajon Boulevard San Diego, CA 92115
It was fun doing a nice simple comparison which started with going to my haircut appointment. My hair didn't fare so well. The guy who's been cutting my hair for ages; I'd followed him all over the place, Mission Valley to Serra Mesa to El Cajon to College to his uncles house (during a bad spell he was pretty much homeless) to Rolando, to Oceanside, then most recently Mira Mesa. Unfortunately, he had just quit the day before....and I needed to get my hair cut, so I had one of the other guys cut it.....so I now have quite the buzz. The Missus gasped when I got back home....but hey, it's hair, it'll grow back. One of the guys at work asked me why I just didn't shave my head.....looking at him (balding), I just said, "hey, I get to prove that I actually have hair...."
Time sure does fly, doesn't it? It's easy to forget about places you mean to revisit when they are tucked away from the main drag; such is the case with Song Huong almost hidden behind Vinh Hung Market. In fact, I'd totally forgotten about the place until someone mentioned that Chibugan, which had once occupied the Song Huong space; then moved next door had closed. It had me wondering about how Song Huong was doing. Then, as chance would have it, I heard someone recommending the Bun Bo Hue at Song Huong; I did recall it being decent, but nothing special. Still, you didn't have to remind me a third time.....
I had decided to go into the office on a recent weekend to catch up on things, so I decided to take a little detour to Song Huong.
Not sure if it was the strange set-up of the tables, which stretched from the booths...sticking out with four to six seats added. Or the sticky floors and tables. Or perhaps the overall mustiness of the place. It did seem that time has not been to good to Song Huong.
The women working here are very nice; though communication was a bit difficult at times. I did manage to order the Bun Bo Hue, now $7.
This was kind of an odd bowl of BBH. First off, no pork hock. The flank was super tough and the small slices if what looked like pounded beef tasted a bit off and was very tough. No cha lua, just some fish cake. The broth seemed to be dressed up pho broth, with mild hints of spice, but almost no lemongrass or even that quick fixer upper mam tom flavor. It was scalding hot though.
I'm not sure what to say about the noodles, which were different from the bun I'm used to having in BBH. This was hard and very, very slippery....more like undercooked wheat based noodles. The greens and herbs were plentiful, but starting to discolor and mostly comprised of lettuce.
I really don't know what to say about this bowl of soup. Maybe it was an off day? I gotta say, this was a rather strange bowl of Bun Bo Hue. It just seemed thrown together. It's been five years since I'd last visited....I don't think I'll be back anytime soon.
For some reason, it seems to be much colder this year....if it's old age, moisture, or what, I'm not sure, but this year feels different. Could be this nagging cold that I just can't seem to shake as well. Of course that still doesn't stop having to run errands during the weekend. Good thing pho shop usually open around 8am. So here's a couple of nice steaming bowls....
Pho Hung Cali:
Since I last visited back in April, I'd been thinking of returning. I thought the pho was decent and worth the revisit.
Man this place is huge. I wonder if they ever fill it up since the parking lot is rather small. The service here was nice; especially the guy who goes around refilling the H2O....he's so friendly. Also, they still don't charge for hot tea.
Having not enjoyed the rare steak the last time through I went with #19, all the meat except the tai. It came out bellowing steam.
Meanwhile, the lime was yellowing, the basil had starting developing spots and the bean sprouts were turning brown. Granted, not the perfect weather for produce; but this was going south.
The broth was nice and hot; it was also clear, meaning that it was kept at that nice temperature; lightly bubbling, without a roiling boil, and the impurities were removed.
It was a bit too defatted for my taste; I appreciate a bit of richness in my both. The flavor was onion/shallot forward, with a good measure of sweetness. It was also a tad too heavy in terms of MSG as well. But not terrible and I'd easily say, it's better than anything in Kearny Mesa.
As for the proteins; thing were much more tasty this time around; especially the pieces of brisket, which were nice and beefy. The tendon was decent, it looked really nice, but was still a bit too hard for my tastes...not bad though. There was one tiny strand of tripe.
The noodles were perfectly prepared. And on a nice note, weren't in a tight clump on the bottom of the bowl. Yes, this does matter to me.
I thought this was a decent bowl. I think I'll even try the Pho Filet next time.
Pho Hung Cali 1060 Broadway Chula Vista Chula Vista, CA 91911
It was haircut time and Pho Lucky is across the street. Last time it was Cow Cali, so Pho Lucky get equal time.
Strangely not quite as good as on previous visits. The broth was nicely flavored; anise and onion forward, but was on the cloudy side. The noodles were perfect, but the meats all tasted a bit off. The flank was really, really tough...like eating rubber, the tendon; usually a favorite of mine was MIA. So, I've been here many, many, times and I'll allow it an off day.....or perhaps I should have just gone Banh Mi Bo Kho.
Pho Lucky 9326 Mira Mesa Blvd. San Diego, CA 92126
Finally, at the beginning of November they opened to the public, albeit with limited hours - 6am to noon, Monday to Fridays. I'm only able to visit when I'm running late for work or on holidays.
Still, my visits have been fruitful. On the morning of Christmas Eve, I dropped by and was shocked to see they had brewed a batch of the iconic Panama Geisha. We'd previously spent ten bucks for pour over at Bird Rock, and while this was just drip coffee, it was worth way more than the $2.15 price tag. Smooth, almost too smooth, aromatic....very nice.
I also noticed that the Kyoto Drip tower had been set-up. The really friendly guys here....they love to talk about the various aspects of coffee....heaven for a coffee nerd like the Missus, told me they were "dialing it in"...... I'm hoping they have some nice cold brew the next time I drop by.
I was also told they were considering the possibility of weekend hours......which I'd appreciate.
Bird Rock Coffee Roasters 1270 Morena Blvd. San Diego, CA 92110
Pho Paradise Closes:
Right before the deluge hit, I decided to see what was up with Pho Paradise. I was somewhat surprised to see Eviction Restoration Notice posted on the door. Too bad. I once thought that the pho here had some promise, but my last visit here in November was quite disappointing.
One consistent thing about Convoy. There's no good pho to be had.
Man, work has been busy. And there were a couple of cool/rainy days, where I just wanted a bowl of noodle soup, and some quiet. Here's where I went.
Pho Hut and Grill:
I didn't expect much based on my previous visits. I wasn't sure what to order and ended up going with the Mi Sui Cao, dumpling egg noodle soup, not cheap at $8.50, but based on those earlier visits, I really didn't want pho.
The bowl was generous and it was better than I thought it would be.
While the broth was a bit heavy with regards to the MSG, it wasn't bad, decent flavor. The egg noodles were done well.....the dumplings were typical, a bit on an under-performer because all of them were torn open and falling apart. Not bad....but perhaps a bit over-priced in my mind.
Pho Hut & Grill 5252 Balboa Ave San Diego, CA 92117
When I want a quiet lunch, I'll sometimes hit up Hinotez. There's usually no one sitting at the bar when I at there if it's early enough. And like other visits, the place was empty. Instead of the usual item I order; the Shio Ramen, I went with the Shoyo Ramen.
This was actually a bit better than the last couple of shio versions I'd had here in the recent past. It was piping hot, had a mild, but not too salty flavor. The egg was decent, but the chashu was again cold and dry. The standard issue noodles were prepared decently....could have been more firm, but was a tad better than average. It won't win any awards, but I wanted a quiet and peaceful meal and I did get that.....
I'd been craving Bun Mam from Com Tam Nhu Y for a while. I finally got a chance last week. Funny thing, Calvin had never heard of Bun Mam, neither had his wife who grew up in Westminster! He had to ask his mother-in-law.... So I made sure to invite him to try some Bun Mam.
It seems that Bun Mam here is evolving. This version was sweeter than what I had last time, rich, lots of shallot and garlic tones, definitely not as spicy, nor nearly as pungent as what I had at the original incarnation of Nhu Y. Still, the flavors are complex, there's a ton of greens and herbs and bun. It's quite a savory concoction......you want to make sure that you don't spill any of it on your clothes. Sammy will often follow me around the house after I eat this....must smell great to him!
Not a fan of the catfish, it was way too bony and muddy this time. The eggplant was fine, the portion size generous, and like mentioned above, it's not nearly as potent as it used to be, but you can't say it's bland. Not a huge fan of the tough pork and shrimp as well.......but, that's not why I order this. It's that broth that keeps me coming back.
Calvin finished all his bun and soup....I guess he liked it! I have a feeling he'll be back, as will I, when I get that itch....
Com Tam Nhu Y 4712 El Cajon Blvd Ste A San Diego, CA 92115
I have to thank the young lady who helped me out as the folks here spoke no English this time around. I was asked a question that I couldn't answer. Turned out it was whether I wanted duck leg or duck breast. I'd always had breast before, but thought I'd get the leg this time around.
For some reason the portion size seemed much larger than I recalled.
The bun was cooked perfectly, the dried bamboo shoots well hydrated and fragrant. I noticed no blood this time around and the soup seemed to have a bit more MSG than I recalled, but was still fairly "clean" in flavor. The greens and herbs were fresh and crisp with a bit more banana blossom than I recall.
"I like to eat this a number of ways...dip the duck in the broth, add a touch for the dipping sauce. dip the salad into the broth, then the dipping sauce, just go for the duck in the dipping sauce, just the veggies in the broth, just the dipping sauce like a true salad, add a touch of the sauce to the broth about halfway thru......heck, just drink that sauce...." Once upon a time Chi Tu Thanh actually taught me the dish was supposed to be properly eaten, but that was over 9 years ago and I kinda like this multi-level approach.
As for the duck. I think I'll stick with breast. The leg was nice; much more gamey, but also tougher, and the bones made for ponderous eating.
Even though it was just a few minutes past 9, the place was almost full! Good for them.
Tu Thanh 4804 University Ave. #A San Diego, CA 92105 Hours: Thurs - Tues 9am - 9pm Closed on Wednesdays
It seems like our trip was sort of bookended by pho.
Pho Cow Cali:
My director always kids me about my habit of getting a haircut the week before any trip. "I see you're ready for your vacation now......" As I noted in my previous post on the place, the guy who cuts my hair is close by in Mira Mesa, so why not stop in for breakfast before my pre-trip ritual?
I was surprised how busy the place was at 8am on Sunday.
I went with the usual.
Pretty much the same bowl as previous visits. Well flavored proteins. A couple of things did get my attention; while the broth was a bit more rich than before, with some mild beef flavor, it was also several steps below hot. Also, they're really starting to get stingy with the herbs and sprouts here.
Service was as before. All business.
Overall, still better than almost everything else in San Diego.
Pho Cow Cali 9170 Mira Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92126
It had been ages since my last pho visit here, so I decided on trying the rare beef.......which was cut too thick, was overdone by the time it hit the table, and was tough. I ordered the #2, which I thought should have had tendon and tripe, but both were MIA. The flank was really bad, tasteless rubber, though the brisket was tender and had a decent beefiness. There was quite a bit of nicely prepped noodles; considering this was a small bowl. The broth was interesting, too sweet and too much msg for my taste. The broth was a bit more cloudy than I prefer as well. There was quite a generous portion of herbs and sprouts, something I hadn't seen in a while.
Barely passable pho. It also shut me back down for another day or so........
Pho Hiep & Grill 6947 Linda Vista Road San Diego, CA 92111
mmm-yoso!!! is the name of this food blog. Kirk is out and about, in a different time zone. Ed (from Yuma) is also in a different time zone and Cathy is in the here and now, blogging.
When I started to write this post, checking on whether or not I had written a prior post (to link) was a bit tedious. Of this location, I saw that Kirk had blogged about it twice now, calling it Pho Hoa-Huong', but the signage now has ..."I eat Pho!"...
Then there is Pho Hoa Hiep, located on the other end of this same parking lot as "I Eat Pho", which is anchored by Thuan Phat supermarket. Anyhow, this pho shop has been here a long time, the interior hasn't changed, the food is consistent and gets to the table extremely fast once you order.Delivery from the kitchen this visit was so fast that the Pho Tai ($6.30, small) raw beef still wasn't cooked in the hot broth when it was placed on the table. We like the pho broth (herbal-meaty) and noodles (not in a clump) here. You can order Cha Gio as a full or half order ($3.50), which is nice. The rice paper fried wrapper is my favorite. The fresh fried spring rolls have a good meat to veggie filling ratio. For years, I've been trying Bo Kho (beef stew) ($6.65) at various Vietnamese restaurants, even though I know the best is at Pho Lucky. The stew here is my second favorite in the County; it's rich and satisfying, with tender meat and a multi flavored broth.
Hot foods on a cool day, what a nice feeling. Hope all of you are enjoying this weather.
Pho Hoa 6921 Linda Vista Road San Diego 92111 (858) 492-9108 open daily 8 a.m.-9 p.m.