A few months back I noticed that Corner Sandwich & Café was gone and being replaced by Bale. I then plumb forgot about it, until I recently passed the shopping center again and took a glance. It appears the place opens rather early so I dropped by for a Banh Mi.
The place looks somewhat cleaned-up, in a somewhat typical VN restaurant kind of way. Instead of hordes of men having coffees and smoking cigarettes in the place, there's now what looks like two outside tables and things seem a bit more quiet. Only 8-9 guys, wonder where the Vietnamese Coffee/Beer/Cards social club moved on to?
I simply ordered a Banh Mi Dac Biet to go ($4.50). It felt kind of hefty and it was......
I've been mostly going to those places that pretty much make their own banh mi these days, so the bread seemed a bit of a shock. It was fairly hard, mostly crust, and the bread hadn't held up well. At least it wasn't as mealy as I recalled the bread being at their other location in Mira Mesa. Man, those were some thick slices of meat! There was also a huge smear of pate on this; which pretty much dominated the entire sandwich. Also, the pickled carrots and daikon here are thicker cut, which I don't mind at all. This seemed really rustic and was quite filling.
A few weeks later, I was in the area at around 830am. I was a bit hungry, but instead of heading to one of my usual suspects, I drove a bit further up Mira Mesa Boulevard and ordered a Banh Mi Op La from Bale. Fewer guys hanging out in the front on this morning; probably because it was a Sunday.
This must be the most pickled vegetables I'd ever had in a banh mi! Good lord......also loved the jalapeno which was nice and spicy. The eggs were a bit past the point of what I prefer in my easy over egg banh mi, but it was still good. The sandwich was warm, almost hot to the touch when I was given it, so I thought the best move would be to have it here. The bread was nice; crusty/flakey exterior, the interior hadn't been turned to mush; it wasn't overly toasted, yet so nice and warm. This is comfort food.
Once the gentleman working the front saw that I was going to have my sandwich here; he brought me a glass of ice water; nice touch. The sandwiches here are a bit more filling than what I'm used to, but it's good to have another option in the area. There's a number of various items; like Banh Beo and various noodle dishes on the menu, so maybe I'll try one of those next time....or maybe I should just have the Banh Mi Op La.
Bale Sandwich & Deli 9005 Mira Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92126
Over my last couple of visits I'd noticed a softer, kinder Pho Hoa, and on this visit they were still quite nice, I was greeted with a smile, and actually handed a menu....this place used to infamous for basically flinging a menu onto the table....but then again, I used to call them the "Fastest Pho in the West".
I ordered the Banh Mi Bo Kho; which actually took a while. This gave me some time to look around and make some observations. No much"older" gentlemen with "wives" at least 20 years or more younger this time around, though the guy on the table next to me managed to work through three Heineken. This was 8am mind you! I also noticed that a fair amount of customers didn't seem to bother to tip? Or maybe they're just leaving the tip with the cashier....I hope so.
So what to say about this? The broth was super hot, but was really fatty and had a bit of a greasy tongue feel. It was decently beefy, but missing in the mild tanginess and slightly pepper/pungent tones I enjoy. The meat was a bit too lean for my taste and there didn't seem to have much tendon; perhaps I'd been gringoed? The carrots were underdone. I liked the lemon, but didn't know what to do with the bean sprouts and all that basil?
The banh mi was nicely heated and crusty; the yeastiness of the bread; standard issue, did well.
And then there was the piece of bone that I nearly cracked my teeth on......no damage done; but a trip to the dentist would have really been a bummer.
I think I'll stick with the fastest pho in the west the next time I visit.
Pho Hoa-Huong Restaurant 6921 Linda Vista Rd San Diego, CA 92111
Tim Ky Noodle:
So, I've been working a few hours on most weekends to keep up with work. I'd usually go in at around 6am and get out in time to do some shopping and run other errands. I'm glad some of these places open rather early; though not many of them in Kearny or Clairemont Mesa do. I needed to pick something up at Lucky Seafood, it was nearly 10am on Sunday, so why not drop by Tim Ky since it had been a while?
Not much going on this morning, but they had 4 guys working in the dining room, so I guess they do get busy. It was a bit too warm to have the won ton egg noodle soup, so I went with the Beef Sate Egg Noodle Soup...dry.
This was much better than the version I'd had here on previous visits. Especially surprising was how tender the beef was and that the sate had hit a decent balance between savory and mildly spicy. The egg noodles were nicely done and all those wonderful savory flavors just went so well together.
The soup was a bit too heavy on the MSG end for me; but spooned onto the noodles it did ok.
I decided to drop by and grab a bite. The shop is fairly small, with a few tables off to one side and stacks of pastry receptacles lining the path to the counter.
Even though most of the containers were empty, that these were for grabbing take-out items like spring rolls, croissants, and various salad dishes. There was also a decent selection of VN coffee, boba, and smoothies as well. There was a stack of banh mi and baguettes in a basket to the side.
I gotta say, the folks working here were really friendly, though the turnaround for orders were a bit slow. The great thing I found out was that they bake their own bread here! Nice! Competition for Cali Baguette Express?
I decided to try the Dac Biet, the "special".
Priced a bit more expensive than other Banh Mi shops at $4.49, I was immediately aware that the sandwich was a bit more "hefty". Returning to the office, I noticed that there was a bit more meat in this. First things first, the bread here is more crusty than flakey and is on the chewy side. It also doesn't keep very long, getting almost rubbery after a short time....I'd find out that for myself when I bought a baguette during another visit. Paris Bakery currently makes my favorite bread for Banh Mi and even to have with cheese in San Diego.
And while I've always said that it's about proportion rather than fillings when it comes to Banh Mi, I really liked how this was put together; the amount of pate was perfect and the meats' especially the cha lua, which can be rather rubbery when sliced too thick was excellent. I thought the carrots and daikon weren't pickled enough to cut the richness of the meat and pate, though the jalapeno was nice and sneakily spicy. Typical stringy cilantro.
Pretty good sandwich overall, so a couple of days later I decided to return. Calvin was interested and decided to join me.
I love eggs in my Banh Mi and the menu said they make Banh Mi Op La ($3.49), typically fried eggs, but here they told me it was easy over. And when I opened the sandwich, you could tell by the mess it was!
Egg yolk oozed all over my paperwork, but that's ok. Initially, I thought they hadn't sliced the sandwich, but then I noticed it had been sliced 2/3 way through. I realize a lot of people are freaked out over runny egg yolk, but this was pretty good, if a bit messy. As a bonus, there was a nice thin slice of ham and a good smear of pate as well. As I ate this rather quickly, the bread held up pretty well.
Calvin ordered the Xiu Mai, the meatball, which, after many bad versions, I'm leery of, but he told it was better than average.
Having to work on a recent Sunday and wondering if three time's a charm , I decided to head over and get the Banh Mi Cha Lua ($3.99).
Nicely set-up sandwich, though the bread was a bit chewy and perhaps because it was Sunday seemed to be a bit on the stale side. Pickles were still a bit too mild for me, but like how thin they slice the cha lua and the amount of pate on the sandwich. The cilantro (I know folks tell me I'm kind of weird about that) had more leaves than stems this time around.
Overall, my three visits were satisfying. It's good to have another decent banh mi option in the area that makes their own bread. While I prefer the bread at Cali Express, I prefer the egg banh mi here. Also to note; if you order egg on a banh mi as an extra, it'll be fried well done, but you can tell them you want the egg easy over they'll do it for you. Be forewarned, it'll be quite messy. I think I'll check out the beef jerky papaya salad and perhaps some of the other dishes in the near future.
Banh Mi Bakery & Cafe 9353 Clairemont Mesa Blvd. Suite H1 San Diego, CA 92123
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
mmm-yoso!!! is a food blog with contributions about food consumed from various places under various circumstances. Kirk and Ed(from Yuma) are relaxing today. Cathy is writing about her circumstances.
Yes, it is that time of year again. The President, Theme (Echoes of Success), Marching Bands and some float designs for the 128th Tournament of Roses parade were announced not long after the 126th Parade ended on January 1, 2016. Floats are in the beginning stages of being built and a "T-1" (first float road test of mechanics and maneuverability) of floats built by Phoenix Decorating Company (who built 22 of the 44 floats in the 2016 parade) was held on Saturday morning at 7 a.m.
Listening to traffic reports, an accident had the North 5 with all lanes closed, so The Mister and I left home before 5 a.m. and stopped at Tan Hoang Huong (THH) in Tustin, since we were there before 6 a.m. (when Cream Pan (our usual stop) opens). Located just West (under the 5) of Cream Pan, it is good place to grab a sandwich and other treats. I knew about it because of several posts on CC's blog.
We ordered two egg rolls (@65¢) and a pork pate chaud (85¢) to eat while we waited for our bahn mi to be prepared. Yes, that's a 'spam' and egg sandwich ($4.25).
Fresh items, great tasting. Not the same as K Sandwiches, but very good. THH 14081 Newport Ave Tustin, CA (714)731-1366 Open Mon-Sat 5 a.m.-7:30 p.m., Sun 7 am-4 pm website
We detoured around the accident (which blocked the North 5 for more than six hours) and arrived at the Road Test just after 7 a.m.
Raymond Street is the place. The floats were lined up. The Rotary International float is in a very basic stage. You can see exactly where the driver and spotter are seated. They are communicating via headsets, as they will during the parade. The spotter on the Odd Fellows and Rebekahs float is the lady to the left in the photo. She will be seated below the floor of that gazebo-like structure. The Kiwanis float is taking shape. The City of Alhambra float has a fire engine being driven by both a fireman and a fire dog... Lions Clubs International is celebrating 100 years of Service in 2017. I can tell this float will be even more magnificent once it is decorated.
There were more details, but you get the idea. We were off to our next stop, Copenhagen Pastry (again, I knew about it from CC's blog), located East on Colorado Boulevard. The truck (and a few cars) parked in front of the otherwise quiet street made the subtle storefront easy to find. The fresh selections were so tempting- yes, that's about everything offered- We bought a loaf of Rye bread ($6) the dense, chewy style, made with rye berries, sunflower and black flax seeds, a Spandauer ($1.95) flaky pastry topped with almond paste and custard and a slice of Kringle ($1.95) also filled with almond paste, custard and sugar. We will return.
We began heading home, stopped at a Super H-Mart for some items and then hit another accident prone area of the 91 freeway, exited and decided to stop at Burger Basket, which we have driven past during prior sidesteps from traffic. Order, pay, have a seat...watch the char grill happen. A double cheese burger- (charred to perfection)($5.49) Gosh, I haven't had such a great burger since Sima's. My semi-usual morning order of an egg sandwich with sausage ($5.89). Let me say, this was heavy and huge with unexpectedly large tasty breakfast sausages (skin slightly burned), a lot of egg and lettuce with tomato and mayonnaise. Burger Basket has been at this location since at least 2007 and again, wish we had stopped here sooner. We will be back.
Burger Basket 1058 West Sixth Corona, CA 92882 (951) 734-1331 Open 7 days 6:30-9:30 Website
It was a long morning and we were home before noon. I hope you are having a good weekend!
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
A few more revisits as I completed my weekend morning "honey do" lists.
Hoai Hue Vietnamese Restaurant:
It was just after 9am when I decided to see what was up with Hoai Hue. I think it's been about a year and a half since I last visited. And like my last visit, the place was doing bang-up business at 915 on a weekend morning.
I ordered my usual, the Bun Tam Hoai Hue, basically Bun Bo Hue but with the crab cakes that are usually in Bun Rieu added. As usual, the broth, while steaming hot was on the sweeter side, with the presence of lemongrass or real pungency missing. In this morning the pungency was easily remedied with that huge squirt bottle of Mam Ruoc, fermented shrimp paste.
Don't get me wrong; the BBH is not terrible, it's just a little lighter in flavor and spice than what I really like in a bowl of Bun Bo Hue. I did enjoy the thick slices of Cha Lua. The pork hock was also quite large and fun to gnaw on. The tendon was much too hard to enjoy on this visit. Those slippery, spaghetti like noodles were done well and the sprouts, greens, and herbs were sparkling fresh.
It was a very filling, generous portion.
Hoai Hue Vietnamese Restaurant 4660 El Cajon Blvd San Diego, CA 92115
Man, has it already been almost 9 years since PK opened? I hadn't visited in over a year, so I thought I'd head back. This little strip mall has gotten kind of odd over the last couple of years. On one of my visits back in 2014, some guy kept asking me for money as I entered and left. I even saw him looking into my car windows while I was eating. I notice that there are now a couple of homeless folks living in the corner of the strip mall.
PK is slowly starting to look its age and the menus are showing some wear and tear.
But my favorite dish at Pho King, the Hu Tieu Mi Kho is still a solid choice. From the Chinese Celery, which adds that intense celery flavor and a nice crunch, to the pork studded mildly sweet soy-sauce mixture, to the broth on the side, it's a nice combination of flavors and textures for me.
For some reason, I also like the combination of having the stretchy Hu Tieu to go along with the more crunchy egg noodles, but that's just me.
Pho King Restaurant 4658 El Cajon Blvd San Diego, CA 92115
I'd like to finish up the post by thanking "Hien" for the very nice email. He mentioned that he was born and raised in City Heights, but moved away for college and now work. He says that he enjoys reading our little blog because we often post about places he went to when he lived here and have a special spot in his memory. Hien, I'm glad you enjoy our posts and that they bring back nice memories. Thanks for reading!
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.
To get this out of the way. Yes, today we had record high temperatures, and yes, I'm still going to post on pho......
It's been a good three years since I last visited, so when the last storm system moved in, I decided to drive on over and see what was up with Pho Fusion. Apparently I wasn't the only one as the place filled up pretty quickly.
I was quite hungry so I started with the "Popcorn Chicken"
The batter t meat ration slides on over to the batter side on this one. If you like that kind of thing, you might enjoy this, as it's very crunchy. The "spicy mayo" was typical. It's not overly salty, but does get a bit crumbly as it cools. The would be pretty good beer food.
The Pho - #14, was decently priced for the area (small - $6.49.)
The sprouts and herbs were minimal, but like previous visits, a request for more was nicely accepted. The broth was slightly cloudy, but not heavy in MSG, the flavor was light, not veering too much in anise nor sweet flavors, though rather light in the beefiness department. It was rather light in protein, of which there was shortage of tendon and tripe. The noodles were in the typical clump, though not over cooked. This was "pho not to offend" on the right side of the scale as was quite evident from the crowd.
The service was nice.....even when that D-Bag of a customer knocked over a glass of water and while the guy was mopping it up told him, "don't forget to get me another glass of water".
Pho Fusion 8038 Clairemont Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92111
Pho Xpress - Mission Gorge Road:
Man, it's been five and a half years since I last visited, though Cathy's been here about four years ago. I was in the area on a recent morning with some time to kill. A bit hungry, I decided to drop back in to Pho Xpress. The whole strip mall was undergoing an exterior refresh at the time of my visit. This being around 0900, I had the place to my self.
As with our previous visits, the pho was decent, though it's not as rich, nor quite a beefy as it used to be. While the herbs and sprouts were lacking, the basil was especially fresh. The rare steak was presented nicely, not yet overcooked and dry and as a whole everything else was quite good. Not amazing, but quite solid if slightly heavy in MSG. The noodles were perfect.
A decent bowl of pho overall. The service here is still "A-B" - all business.
Pho Xpress 6533 Mission Gorge Rd San Diego, CA 92120
While leaving the strip mall on Clairemont Mesa Boulevard after my visit to Pho Fusion I took a quick look at the strip mall sign and was quite surprised. Take a look.......
Most of the restaurant listed are gone; some of them have been closed for quite a while.....
In fact, we've posted on the three places listed on the sign that are no longer there, Cathy has done Sushi Hut and I've posted on Aria and Mercury Grill, places that have been gone for years! I think Sushi Hut is not Hielo, Aria is now Chaba Thai and has been for almost three years, and Dumpling Hut took the place of Mercury Grill last June.
What's up with the sign? Could it be the mall owner is being cheap? Could it be that being on the sign is a curse....and they're hedging their bets by just saying "Mexican Restaurant"? Or....perhaps...maybe we're the curse since we posted on those three places and they closed? Hmmmmm.....I think some of the other businesses are gone too......strange.....