I've gotten into a habit of having noodle soup for breakfast. Check that; I crave noodle soup for breakfast on weekends. It's something that happened over time, but has become a bit of a habit. I'm not the only one with a weekend routine. When I rise and leave for work during the week, while it's still dark out, Da' Boyz won't even budge. They go outside, do their thing, and then it's back to sleep. During the weekend however, it's light and bright, they have a routine of their own. Most weekend mornings, I'll go for some of the quick errands; gas up the car, the ATM, Catalina Offshore, etc......and I'll take them with me. It's gotten to the point of them knowing and expecting this to take place. Sammy will sometimes stick his nose in the shower, with Frankie running around in the bathroom whining demanding their weekend "car ride". After that's done, I go for more of the errands, the "honey doo" things farther afield while the Missus is working or still sleeping. My reward? Some noodle soup. So here's a few recent bowls....I've posted on these places already, but thought it was time for another. No Mien Trung, even though they open at 9. I'm getting old, Bun Bo Hue is a bit too much for breakfast these days.
777 Noodle House:
My favorite $5.77 bowl - either Hieu Tieu Nam Vang or in this case Mi Trieu Chau. Basically the same dish, except one is with egg noodles.
777 Noodle House 4686 University Avenue San Diego, CA 92105
Pho Lucky 9326 Mira Mesa Blvd. San Diego, CA 92126
Open at 9 am
When you have a place in your regular rotation you sometimes notice things. Like the pair of pooches in the photo to the right. I've seen them at Nijiya a good half dozen times now. I have no idea who they belong to, but they sure are "regulars".
And then there are the odd things. Like the colander/strainer I saw in the men's urinal at Zion Market one morning. I'm sure it was doing a "similar job". I just hope it wasn't doing double duty.
Needless to say; I wasn't feeling like having anything to eat in the food court that morning. I also waited until I got home to use the restroom.....
We just got back from an overdue visit to Portland over the last couple of days. The very busy Cathy was kind enough to cover (as usual) for us. The somewhat ironic thing being, the weather when we returned from Portland, was more like Portland than Portland was....or something like that! Anyway, after feasting on foie gras and bone marrow (posts to come) having some soup was quite nice. So here's where I've been since we got back.
Something I've noticed over the last couple of years. As "Mom" gets older, the broth for the Bun Bo Hue sometimes is rather heavy handed with regards to MSG, or even spiciness. Such was the case on this day....not to say I didn't finish every lemongrass tinged drop of soup.
The Hen Xuc Banh Trang however, was a spicy-peppery-savory joy to devour.
Mien Trung Restaurant 7530 Mesa College Dr San Diego, CA 92111
I know, they've just opened and I'm doing a revisit post already.
Call me cynical, but I've been kind of down on pho in Kearny Mesa for a while so when I actually had what I thought was a decent bowl here, I had a hard time believing it wasn't a fluke.
So, on my return, I didn't order the rare steak, which was cut to thick, making it quite dry the last time, and just went with the brisket, flank, etc..... the brisket and flank were dry and tough; but the tendon was quite nice as was the tripe.
Of course, there was the broth.....for me broth is the key. This time it was a bit different; not quite as rich and still a touch too salty. The flavor however was pretty much the same mildly beefy, faint anise, strong shallot-onion. Not bad at all. The noodles were even prepared better this time and there was a more generous (and better quality) amount of herbs and sprouts.
So maybe there's decent pho to be had on Convoy after all.....
Pho Paradise 3904 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92111
Pho Nhu Y:
The weather had got me craving Bun Mam for some reason. I really didn't feel like heading to City Heights. So I headed over to Pho Nhu Y on Clairemont Mesa, which is run by the original owner of Nhu Y. I even went after the 3pm Bun Mam hour. They had declared Bun Mam off limits until after 3pm as to not offend their gringo lunch crowd. Anyway, I found, much to my disappointment that Bun Mam is no longer offered. Bummer....... So what to order? Heck, wanting some noodle soup, I went with the Bun Rieu ($8.75).
The bowl arrived scalding hot....and the positives stopped there. The soup was tasted like pho broth with a touch of tomato and a tiny bit of seafood flavor, but not enough to make it proper bun rieu. There were little crumbs of a meat paste which had no flavor...this was mainly cha lua and fried tofu. I call this "shadow soup"...where a noodle soup; like Bun Bo Hue/Bun Rieu/Bun Mang Vit is made to barely reference the true flavors.
Well....at least I wouldn't be "offending customers" right? I know this place can do better....
Pho Nhu Y Vietnamese Grill 5375 Kearny Villa Rd San Diego, CA 92123
So I've got a kind of new reader....I think. At least the person has been emailing me.....very entertaining emails......telling me I really don't "represent" what true San Diegans eat, or want to eat. Which perhaps is the point of the blog, right? Anyway, I got sent some photos of what, according to this reader, "real San Diegans" eat. And was asked why I don't post on stuff like that....... Great thing is, I can just use the photo sent to me:
Hot Dog....mmmmm. I actually enjoy hot dogs. Heck, I have a whole category devoted to them. Still, perhaps not this one; though it's a good bargain (much better when it was Hebrew National)....maybe one day, never say never, after all, I've had worse at Costco. Still, this makes me chuckle because it reminds me of my good FOY's (Friend of Yoso) "Xiang Jiao" (you can see her here taking a cleaver to a whole roasted pig we snuck into a karaoke room - as if you could really sneak a whole pig into one) road trip with "friends"....very frugal friends, who insisted on eating at every Costco they could find (they had it mapped out) along the way. Personally "XJ" is too sweet and patient....I would have mutinied....friendships would have been ended and blood (perhaps mine) would have been shed. But that's just me.......
As I said before; that logo looks a bit familiar, but I just can't place it.
In addition to the décor; the menu is typical of your neighborhood pho shop...pho, bun, rice......
I went with #3, rare steak, brisket, tendon, and tripe ($6.75). Man, when did pho hit the seven dollar mark? The Dac Biet here is like $7.75. Regardless, I liked the look of my bowl when it arrived.
Kind of sparse on the sprouts and herbs....but is that Ngo Gai I see? A rarity on the Mesa.....
The broth looked dark and rich, flecks of oil dotted the surface....the fragrance was quite "onion-ny". Nice first impression. The broth was mildly beefy, faint anise, onion-forward, though, as is the norm in San Diego, a bit heavy handed on the MSG. It was also super scalding hot.
The noodles were over-done and on the mushy side.
As for the proteins; the tendon was good, decent texture; the rare steak was cut too thick and dried out quickly in the broth. This was the most tripe I've seen in a bowl on the Mesa since forever.
The flank and brisket were unremarkable, both flavorless and on the dry side.
Still, it seems that these folks aren't just going thru the motions and are really trying to put out a good product.
A few days later I returned and tried the Banh Mi Bo Kho ($6.75). Man was this super dark.
This was too salty for my taste, it was also very thin, lacking in anise tones and any vestige of tomato flavor. The meat was on the tough and dry side.
I'd probably stick with the pho.
The young man and young lady who served me were very nice. I know I've been around a long time when I recognized Her from Van Hoa and K Sandwich...sheesh. The service here seemed a level above your typical pho shop. I like the hours, since my schedule often calls for an early lunch. This location seems to have some bad juju; in the course of two years it has been Viet Bakery and Pho, then V Bakery. I hope the place can break that spell. I also hope the pho is just as good, or heck, let's shoot for the moon, maybe even better next time around. You see, I'm not looking for a "pho paradise" here; just a decent bowl.
Pho Paradise 3904 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92111 Hours: Mon - Sat 9am - 10pm Sunday 10am - 9pm
Hmmmm Bruno and Pho King, there's surely a joke in there somewhere. Can't think of one right now, so onward with the post.
It had been almost a year since I'd been here and I was really wanting a pizza....the Missus is still not doing the bread thing, so I was on my own. I held out for a couple of weeks before giving in.
They must be doing well, as there were at least 5 people working on a Sunday, at 4pm.
My memory must be going as I don't recall seeing Belgians on the drink list before. I was quite happy to order a La Chouffe, mild spice, yeasty, just boozy and sweet enough for me. My server was a very chipper young lady...quite enthusiastic and all.....
Being a creature of habit, I ordered the Diavolo, subbing soppressata for pepperoni. It arrived in all it's yeasty charred glory soon after.
I must really be getting old because this just seemed larger than I remembered...ah, this cursed old age thing.
Man, loved the smoky charred crust, the slightly spicy and vinegary goat peppers....I did notice that the soppressata tasted a bit different, not as rich and full of lovely oiliness as before....but it could be that old age thing, right?
I could only finish half the pie and took the rest home. The Missus got home from work and said "that smells so good...." Knowing that She doesn't do the bread thing I told Her, "help yourself....he-he-he...."
I got out of the shower and She had a smug smile on Her face....so I headed straight to the pizza box and opened it....yikes!!! She had cockroached all the toppings! Teach me to tempt Her, right?
Pizzeria Bruno 4207 Park Blvd San Diego, CA 92103
Aaah, I know why I put these two together mentally. While at Bruno, these two huge Italian guys walked in, pinky rings and all. Man, they had it down, talking to each other in Italian....until I was walking out and they were having a little "PDA".....
So maybe they should have gotten a room or at least gone to....
Yeah, yeah....ok, enough with the jokes. I don't think I've posted on the place in over a year, so I'm due right? Man, they were pretty busy.....
I decided to order my usual and get some wings as well......
In retrospect, not the best move....these tasted of rancid oil, were fried "naked", but were on the mushy side, and really lacked flavor. Very large, meaty, and moist though. Ah yes...Pho King Wings....
My usual Hu Tieu Mi Kho did much better.
I love the sweet-porky soy and the combination of noodles on this. Which I've done posts on several times.
And on the good side, no one asked me for money. Like I noted in my Tu Thanh post, on my last visit in August, some dude asked me for money twice, once when entering and once when leaving the place...then I saw him looking into my car windows...sheeesh. Happy not have to deal with that, which kind of kept me away from the place. Guess I'll head back again soon.
Pho King Restaurant 4658 El Cajon Blvd San Diego, CA 92115
Funny, I always almost say "lavage" when I read the sign....not the most appetizing word. A couple of weeks ago FOY "Janfrederick" mentioned that Pho Viet Cali was no more in the comments of this post. I had always thought Viet Cali really made a mediocre and over priced bowl of pho. One day I had meetings fairly close by so I decided to drop by.
I forgot how large the restaurant was.
I liked the menu; which seemed to have quite a few dishes that I enjoy. On this visit, though, I decided just to go with the pho. As I usually do, I just went with the dac biet since it gives me a nice picture into how the various proteins are prepped. At $6.95 for a small bowl, it ain't cheap. It was even smaller than Viet Cali's seven dollar pho. The herbs were really skimpy and the lime had brown spots as did the basil. Also take a look at the size of the bowl of pho in comparison to the little plate of garnishes.
All comparisons to Viet Cali stopped at the price. This was a pretty good bowl. The broth was fairly dark, yet clear. It had decent fat/oil and a very light anise flavor, with a more pronounced onion thing going on. Not quite as good as Pho Lucky on a good day, but ok.
The meats were fine, one piece of the rare steak had a metallic taste to it. Most of it was unremarkable and there wasn't much of it either.
The one thing that was a pleasant surprise were how the noodles were prepped. This wasn't your usual clump of mushy, over cooked noodles. No, the noodles had been separated and were just perfect in texture.
Also, the folks who run this place; I'm thinking it's a family of four are really, very, very, nice. It made me want to return in spite of the rather low value level. So I dropped by the next chance I had and tried a couple of the appetizers I'd seen.
The Lavang Fried Chicken Wings ($8.95). It was a pretty little plate.
The sautéed peppers and onions brought very little to the dish in terms of flavor. The wings were he small type; which I actually kind of like since it makes for the perfect bite; a combination of crisp batter/skin/meat. This was adequately fried, but the sauce was way too sweet for me, without a nice savory punch that I would expect.
Wrapped too tight and hard, too much filler, the nem nuong was very bland and lost in everything. Could have used more herbs....oh and that sauce was watery and bland as well.
One evening a week or so later, I decided to drop by. The special that evening was one of my favorite dishes; Banh Mi Bo Kho ($7.95).
In some ways this was a pretty good version; lots of meat, the baguette nice and warm, the carrots perfect, not overcooked and mushy. I would have enjoyed a bit more anise tones and tanginess, but I know folks who don't. A good amount of black pepper in this and the broth was on the thin side....again, personal preferences at work. Like I said, tons of meat, cooked well, but not enough tendon for my taste. It is perhaps a bit more refined than the thick, rustic version I prefer.
But heck, this isn't bad by any means.
The owner told me to come back and try the Bo Luc Lac, so of course one evening, when the Missus was working, I dropped by to try it ($11.95).
Like some of the other dishes; the ingredients are done fairly well, the beef was adequately tender, but this fell short in the flavor category. I prefer mine with a more assertive sweet-savory flavor and this was really mild. Strangely, the rice was terrible...very hard.
The best part of the whole meal was the broth, which had such nice depth of flavor.
Just enough salt...this had that aaaah appeal. I guess I better return for other soups in the future.
I did return one more time for the Grilled Beef spicy Mango Salad ($9.95).
Again, nice try, but no cigar. The beef was tender, but on the mild side......the flavor of sesame oil was a bit too strong. The salad portion was nice, but again too much sesame flavor. I'd have enjoyed something with a stronger fish sauce flavor.
Like I said, the folks here are very, very, nice. I can see that they are trying for a more refined product, and while it shows in some of the prep, things just seem to miss the mark. I did notice that the two customers on the table in back of me were whining about how "greasy" the pho looked (meanwhile the Vietnamese on the table next to them just laughed - gringos wanting gringo pho)....I guess folks are really getting used to the MSG loaded, totally defatted, mediocre pho like they serve on Convoy. And while I admire the effort, the place just kind of falls short......
Lavang Restaurant 6755 Mira Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92121 Hours: Mon - Fri 10am - 9pm Saturday 10am - 10pm Closed Sunday
I was a bit sad when Tan Ky on Mira Mesa closed down. The place wasn't amazing, but they did serve some pretty solid dishes. So of course when I saw Tim Ky Noodle was taking its place, I made sure to check them out. And you know how that goes.......I try to check places out a couple of times whenever possible.
They've done a decent job of freshening up the place. New lighting, wood paneling....though you can still recognize it as Tan Ky.
The menu is typical of these type of shops, a million and one combinations of Hu Tieu or Mi noodle soups, fried rice, all the usual suspects.
I had been craving Beef Sate Egg Noodle - dry and my lousy visit to Luong Hai Ky did nothing to diminish things. So of course I had to try it here, right?
First thing I noticed was...this place was into that "big bowl" facade thing. The portion was noticably smaller than what Tan Ky delivered. On the good side, the egg noodles were done adequately....I like mine with a bit of crunch still in them, but not raw with a powdery edge. There wasn't enough sate in this as things were too mild and the beef "fair to middlin". The broth that accompanied the dish was much too light and plain bland. I'll probably not order this again.
The young man who served me was very nice and friendly. I asked him what he thought the specialty of the house was. He said it was the Bun Suong, which was surprising. If I recall, it was a noodle soup that looked a lot like Bun Rieu.
The folks here were very nice, so I came back to try the Bun Suong, which ain't cheap at $8.45.
This was pretty good. They used the thin bun for this; the type that would be appropriate for Bun Rieu. There were 8 shrimp "meatballs" that weren't too squeaky and still had some shrimp flavor. The annatto oil did make it look like bun rieu a bit, though the broth was milder. Liked that fact it wasn't loaded with MSG and the broth had a decent flavor which kind of reminded me more of chicken than pork.
This was not bad. I'll have it again.
It would only be a matter of time before I tried the Won Ton and Dumpling Egg Noodle soup ($6.49).
This was the best bowl I had here. It's been so long sonce I've had a decent Won Ton/Dumpling egg noodle soup that I'd become jaded....so perhaps that amplified my enjoyment? There were only 2 won ton and 2 dumplings in this, the dumplings were definitely superior to the won tons. But I gotta say, instead of the usual hard as rock fillings, these were adequately tender.
The broth had a nice flavor to it and even some decent richness as you can tell by the dots of fat floating around. I do wish the soup were a bit hotter.
This was a nice bowl.
I might have pushed my luck a bit when I returned and had the Duck Leg Egg Noodle Soup ($7.49). I actually wanted the roast duck version, but they were all out. The broth reminded me a bit of a watered down Thai style duck noodle, with dark soy sauce giving it a deep, dark color and the shiitake mushrooms in the soup.
There were faint hints of flavor....the mere wisp of star anise, but just not enough oomph for me. The duck, though tender, had a bit of a stale, refrigerator flavor to it. No complaints about the temp of the broth on this one as I had to figure out how to break down that duck leg floating in scalding broth.
I'd like to try the roast duck version next time, but otherwise will stick with the dumpling egg noodle soup. Plus, it looks like they have chicken wings on the menu as well.
I like the folks who work here....even the kind of serious server, who, while not too friendly, is nice enough. So of course I'll be back.
Tim Ky Noodle 9330 Mira Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92126
It's was prime dinnertime, but the place looked kind of empty. There I stood, promptly ignored by the three guys milling around, when the young guy practically screams at me "SIT!" pointing to one of the booths. And just in case I didn't hear him, he goes "SIT!" again. Now I may talk this way to Sammy and Frankie once in a while; but they have four legs......
Menu promptly flies onto table and the guy hovers over me. Now the last time I was here, I looked high and low for Beef Sate Noodle and the Server who was hovering over me just like this guy practically ordered me to have something else. This time I was going to find that damned dish even if took all night. Much to the dismay of the guy hovering....who finally let out a sigh and left me to concentrate on my meal. And wouldn't you know....I finally found it on the bottom of the menu. So the guy comes back and simply says "what???" Man of few words, or would that be word......
Anyway, here it is in all it's glory Beef Sate Noodle - Dry ($7.30). By the way; it's on the bottom of the noodle soup page.
It looked pretty decent; until you went to mix it and found all that iceberg lettuce hidden by the noodles, which were basically raw and still sort of powdery. There was not enough sauce and the beef was tough.
The broth was basically MSG water....really salty.
Sad really, since in the good old days LHK did a pretty good job. However, since the MM location opened and the failed attempt at reopening on Convoy, it seems the prices have gone up rather quickly, the flavors have gone down, and the Servers here only speak in monosyllables. Actually, the young man spoke perfect California English....there was a table with a couple of guys whom I'm thinking were his friends....they were talking about football. Which was great for his buddies.....though perhaps I would prefer just single word sentences from him......
So this is my third post on the place. And unless someone has some compelling dish to try, I think that's it for "The Original Chinese Noodles".
Luong Hai Ky Restaurant 10606 Camino Ruiz #2 San Diego, CA 92126
I received an email after my post on JK's Burgers and Hot Dogs asking me what I thought about the Pho at the shop in the same mall. Pho shop? Same mall? I did a short search and by golly, there was Pho UTC and Grill just a few doors down......Man, I'm losing my touch in my old age....... Anyway, I decided to stop by on the way back from a meeting a couple of weeks back.
Pho UTC & Grill:
The place was really quiet when I arrived.
Clean and fairly non-de-script, in a modern pho shop kind of way.The service was adequate, not surly, not friendly, also quite generic. Things move along quite quickly...at least it did for me as I was out of the place in 30 minutes.
Which should kind of be the theme as the broth of the Pho Dac Biet was very "San Diego generic"......in other words, not beefy, lacking in anise, or any other real flavor, other than a mild onion and being quite salty.
The broth was on the "thin" side, lacking any richness. The color was nice and the broth clear.
The noodles were horrendously overcooked and mushy.
Surprisingly, the beef tendon was quite good with a nice mildly chewy, yet not hard texture. The rare steak was way overcooked and hard by the time the bowl made it to my table. There were meatballs in this version, typical, "squeaky" texture. All the other proteins were fine.
As you can tell, this wouldn't be a first, or even fifth or sixth choice...... though if you're in the area and absolutely needed a bowl....well even then. As MrZ and other "pho punners" would probably say, "not aw-pho, but totaly pho-gettable".
Pho UTC & Grill 8915 Towne Centre Dr San Diego, CA 92122
The "Pho" portion of the logo looks strangely familiar, but I just can't place it. I'm still hoping for decent pho in the Convoy-Kearny Mesa area......... I'm hoping this will at least be decent.
3904 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92111
The Original Tofu House opening in Mira Mesa:
I saw this a couple of days ago and drove by yesterday to take a photo.
Quite a few Korean food places opening around Mira Mesa.
I believe this used to be Arby's????
9089 Mira Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92126
Casa Medina has moved?:
I noticed that Casa Medina had closed on the way home the other day. So I dropped by after work today to check it out.
So it looked like the place has closed, until I turned around and saw the sign for Casa Medina along side that of the old Bismallah Restaurant above World Market & Produce.
So unless the market likes to collect signs of defunct restaurants, you can now get your Halal tacos inside of World Market & Produce.
5440 Clairemont Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92117
Was it cold enough for you?
I thought it was pretty chilly this morning and checked my weather app. And did a double, no triple take....
Must be a malfunction, right? This would be the weather in the Bay Park area......and would also be colder than what we experienced in Seattle!
My Christmas dinner:
Both the Missus and I have been working quite a bit. She had to work on Christmas and after grilling a ton of chicken for Her potluck and making Her a separate lunch/dinner, I really didn't feel like doing anymore cooking. So I decided to head over to Sushi Yaro and Sam put together a nice sashimi combo for me between the zillion rolls.
It made for quite a feast. It was also nice seeing Sam; it had been a while. As a bonus, a couple of the "old-time" regulars whom I haven't seen in ages also dropped by, before the place got totally swamped. Sam mentioned that I've known him for about eleven years now! Time does fly.......