Noodle soup when it's 88 with 80% humidity? Yeah, I guess so. At least that's what I had this past weekend.
Da Nang Food to Go:
My first choice was for some Beef Sate Noodle from Minh Ky, which was standing room only....at like 9 in the morning. My second choice was for some Bum Mam from Nhu Y, but all those guys having coffee and the parking lot was full. It had been a while since I last visited Da Nang and the parking lot was empty....
While not in the league of, say Huong Giang, this wasn't bad at all. Mi Quang isn't supposed to have a ton of soup, so this filled the bill. The broth was a little too light for my taste. There was a ton of turmeric colored noodles. The shrimp, which looked kind of dubious at first was nicely cooked, still moist, the pork had good flavor, though it was on the tough side. I wish there were more "herbs"
Hard to complain for $5.95 though.
Da Nang Food to Go (aka Quan an Da Nang) 4745 El Cajon Blvd San Diego, CA 92115
Pho Sao Bien:
Sunday was a crazy day, wasn't it? Things looked bright and sunny early on; but by 3pm.....well, the clouds moved in as did the record rainfall. The temps stayed high....and it became a sweatbox at home.
It had been a while since I'd been to Pho Sao Bien so I decided to check them out again.
The place had been freshened up a bit over the years, but looked pretty much the same.
The guys working here have, for the lack of a better description, sort of a laid-back, stoic kind of thing going on.
Let's call this set of photos the "Cha Gio go on a diet"?
Unevenly fried so that portions of the wrapper was hard and gummy, the rest of it just plain hard instead of crisp. The filling is now almost all filler. The nuoc mam cham watered down. How sad. I could only manage to try to eat two.
I hadn't had the pho here in almost 9 years, so it was time for a repeat, right?
In keeping with my previous pho encounter here; the garnishes were quite skimpy.
Lordy, lordy, where to start? How about the good news? The tendon, tripe, and flank were pretty darn good. No off tastes, the tendon gelatinous and tender.
The rest just wasn't to my taste. Other than being on the salty side; the broth was really, really, weak and bland. It was also cloudy and there seemed to be an abnormal amount of scum in it. The noodles were also over cooked and mushy. I tried all kinds of stuff to bump up the flavor. But nothing really helped. Finally, I did something I haven't done in 25 years........gasp....I added Sriracha and Hoisin..... I never thought I'd have to resort to this.
It had been quite a while since we headed out of San Diego on a road trip. Things had gotten hectic between vacations and various trips we'd taken. And yet, we really weren't satisfying some of our cravings. One of which was the Cha Ca Thang Long from Song Long. So last weekend we headed out, for the first time this year!
I don't think Song Long has changed much since we first visited a couple of years ago. But it had been long enough that the old menu had been replaced with a newer version and the Cha Ca Thang Long had gone up a buck to $17.95.
It's still more than enough for the two of us.
From the caramelized shallots, to the nicely fired fish to what we call the "gift that keeps on giving", the mam nem, which you keep pouring over your bun and greens, only to have it keep "returning" for the rest of the day! It's just a lovely dish, one of our favorites.
It's also good that they open rather early, since we could hit up places before they got busy on this Sunday.
Song Long Restaurant 9361 Bolsa Ave Suite 108 Westminster, CA 92683
This was nice, not salty, could have used a but more bean paste perhaps, the skin is not the best, but the duck is meaty and it actually tastes better the next day.
It really hit the spot.
The place does put a lot of "jus" over the duck. In case you're wondering what to do with the last few pieces of duck and the sauce. Chop up the skin and what meat....little meat if you've done it right, and make fried rice. I actually made omurice with some of the fried rice I made......I was so hungry and the fragrance just took over, thus I forgot to take photos. Next time perhaps.
mmm-yoso!!! is a blog about food that's been around for a very long time. Kirk is usually here writing, but he's on vacation right now. Ed(from Yuma) is sometimes here, but he is planning his vacation as this is being written. Cathy is here and now.
Van Hoa has been in this corner location of the strip mall at the North West corner of University at 54th since at least 2007, when Kirk wrote a two-part post about it. I followed up about seven years later with my own post about this regular stop before shopping at the Vien Dong Supermarket (to the right in the photo below).You have most likely seen the Van Hoa label on spring rolls and desserts sold at 99Ranch Market, Thuan Phat and World Foods.Ordering at the restaurant means the rolls are even fresher than the ones delivered to those stores daily. I must say the rice paper wrap is never 'rubbery', because the rolls are just made. There is only one choice of flavors- shrimp with pork. ($3.25). The fresh vegetable fillings(lettuce, mint, cucumber, carrot, daikon) are refreshing and what I crave. The peanut butter based dipping sauce lends a good umami to it all. The egg rolls here are also above average ($5.95). Mostly meat with mushroom filling, the frying is proper and never too greasy.Now that the warmer weather is coming (and going), sometimes bun (it's pronounced 'boon') is an order. Chilled vermicelli on one side of the bowl, salad (lettuce, mint, cucumber, sprouts) on the other half and, in this case, topping of Tau Hu Ky (shrimp wrapped with tofu skin) and the usual pickled radish/cucumber and peanuts ($6.50) makes an exceptional meal.Then again, my most favorite version of Banh Xeo ($6.50) is at Van Hoa, so as we are being seated I place that order (it takes a while to make the rice flour/turmeric pancake) The crunchy light pancake is delightful, the shrimp and pork are plentiful along with the onion/bean sprout/mung bean filling. Eating bits of this wrapped in lettuce and mint is also refreshing.
Thanks for reading. I hope your week is going well.
Van Hoa 4016 54th San Diego, Ca 92105 (619)582-2642 Open Mon-Sat 6-8, Sun 7-7
I never knew you could get the intestine "fried first" to give a bit more texture. I was told on this visit. At $6.77, this is priced right. Good swiney, earthy intestine, the pickled vegetable is typical, but this is a good value and I have no complaints.
Nice folks....I still get a kick that they call me "sir"......
777 Noodle House 4686 University Avenue San Diego, CA 92105
Come Tuesday it was on the chilly side...so it was over to Yakyudori for some Shio Ramen. Hard to believe the place was empty when I arrived.
Went for the shio ramen. It was interesting; I still think they changed the salt they use for this a while back...it just doesn't have the same flavor. The broth was also a lot darker than I recalled. The chashu was better than what I've had before. At least it wasn't ice cold. The boiled egg was lovely....not the best, but decent. The noodles prepped well.
The service was a lot less surly than what I've recently experienced. As I left, the place was getting crowded.
Yakyudori Ramen and Yakitori 4898 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92111
They've done a bit of renovation since the last time I was here.
I really love the texture of the crisp and light kakiage. And though the broth and udon is nothing special; it's the sum of the parts that works for me. That onigiri still seems like overkill to me....but I'm not complaining.
Plus, it's still $8.95.
Izakaya Sakura 3904 Convoy St #121 San Diego, CA 92111
By Thursday, it was in the 80's. It was time to treat myself to a nice Hwe Dup Bop.
And Sam know just how I like it. Easy on the rice, a good amount of cho-jang...crisp, fresh, a little spicy. Just what I needed to refresh.
Sushi Yaro 7905 Engineer Road San Diego, CA 92111
The weekend came and it was a bit cooler again....so I guess it was back to the beginning.
If you're going to have one item here, it should be the fish sauce wings. Since I first tried them in 2008, it's been a beloved item. In my article in the Reader, I noted how Jay told me he was going through as much as a thousand pounds of wings in a month.
It's still a wonderful, sweet, salty, and sticky.......
The Jackfruit Salad is another standby.
Over the years, I've noticed that they've somewhat refined their dishes a bit. In this salad, I noticed that the whole, hard peppercorns were gone and on this visit the nuoc mam cham was more savory, heavier on the fish sauce than sweet and watered done, which was a welcomed change. Nice amount of veggies, the somewhat citrusy-pungent-cilantro tones of rau ram, shrimp, and pork.
This made for a very satisfying meal.
It's good to know that the food here was just as good when Jay wasn't on the premises. It's also good to see Que Huong last when so many haven't.
Que Huong Restaurant 4134 University Ave San Diego, CA 92105
Now that things are settling down I can make more trips up to City Heights. And revisit Tan Ky Mi Gia.
Man, this place is looking a bit run down.
Still, the place has outlasted the pool hall next door.
Still, the prices are still good....$5.75 for basic egg noodle soup. However, on this visit I saw Bot Chien posted on the wall. It was breakfast time, so there was no doubt I'd be ordering it.
While not in the class of Kang Lac, this was not bad. The crisp parts were nice, though there were some kind of gummy parts to it. It was also pretty big, I ended up taking a good part of it home...the Missus, who basically never saw an egg dish She didn't like enjoyed it. Loved the dipping sauce as well. Overall decent.
A week later I returned in the morning and decided to try the Won Ton and Dumpling Egg Noodle Soup ($5.75).
The broth is not quite where it used to be.....a bit more salty, less body, cloudy. The egg noodles were perfect. I didn't care for the hard as rock dumplings and won tons. It's not like I'm expecting amazing for under six bucks. But this just didn't do it for me.
So will I be back......yes, I've got see what the state of the duck egg noodle soup is like. Plus, it's hard to complain about meals like these.......and heck, there one Tan Ky Mi Gia left.
Tan Ky Mi Gia 5237 El Cajon Blvd San Diego, CA 92115
Here's a couple of places I haven't been to in a while.
Pho Ban Mai:
A couple of weeks ago, when it was super hot, Lily and "YZ" wanted to grab some lunch. Everything just seemed a bit "too much" for the heat and this being a Monday, places like Sab E Lee were closed. We ended up going to Pho Ban Mai, which I seem to visit about once a year. I ended up doing the ordering and we started with the Salt and Pepper Chicken Wings:
While the seasoning wasn't bad; I thought these were greasy, the bones in several were broken and the meat tasted a bit off like it had been thawed and then refrozen. Not good eats.
I also went with what I call the "Brodard South" dishes; the Nem Nuong Cuon and the Chao Tom Cuon. Like I mentioned before, these were right out of the Brodard playbook.
As before the Nem Nuong, the pork "sausage", was much better, more flavor, nicely grilled, and the addition of a touch of herbs along with the scallion complements the flavor of the meat. The Chao Tom, is a bit too rubbery and "squeaky" for me and is quite bland....which comes to the sauce....I keep on meaning to just get nuoc mam cham, the sauce here is not very good, very bland, lacking in flavor.
I've always enjoyed the banh xeo here; I think it is crisp and light, and I appreciate the ratio of fillings to the crisp "crepe". It's all about proportion to me when it comes to banh xeo.
Lily and "YZ" had never had banh xeo before, so I thought this would be a nice introduction. Man, Lily went after this like there was no tomorrow.....apparently, she loves bean sprouts, and the combination of the light crunch of the crepe with the crisp lettuce and herbs, dipped into nuoc mam cham was just what the doctor ordered for a hot day. This was a nice specimen, perhaps as good as what I had here in 2011.
Overall a decent meal; though there's one area that seemed lacking. When Pho Ban Mai first opened, the folks seemed friendly and attentive, during my last visit, the guys seemed more interested in socializing. This time around, they seem to want nothing to do with customers. In other words, it's getting almost borderline rude here. Not a good trend. I hope the next time I get my banh xeo fix, the pattern will be reversed.
Pho Ban Mai 8991 Mira Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92126
As far the wings go, they've never been quite the same, but were still good, and usually held up well. The Missus had always enjoyed the salt and pepper shrimp without shell here as well. Which is what I ordered.
Man, what is going on here? The chicken, while crisp, had basically no flavor.....I had to roll it in the garlic-scallion mixture to get any flavor at all.
It had also been fried to death......dry as a mouthful of sand. Kind of sad. Looks like I'll have to start making the rounds searching for some good S&P wings.
To make things worse, the shrimp were even more pathetic.
Very bland, under fried and gummy batter....this was pretty bad.
It's quite sad when an "old standby" doesn't deliver....
New Mandarin Canton Chinese Restaurant 543 Telegraph Canyon Road Chula Vista, CA 91910
"What's this thing with you having pho for breakfast every Saturday?" Asked the Missus. My reply; "well, some of these errands I have to run for you mean a bit of a drive and pho is always easy, plus these places open rather early, 8 or 9 am, and aren't crowded at that time."
Which is how I came to have two bowls at almost opposite ends of the map the last two Saturdays.
Pho Hung Cali:
I'd heard some good things about this place from folks who live in the South Bay. "Buddha" who often comments also mentioned the place to me in an email. So since I was in the area, I thought why not?
the place was very easy to find; basically katty-corner from Aqui es Texcoco. Strange, I'd never even noticed the place before.
The interior is much larger than it looks from the outside....though a lot of the space is empty.
The service is typical pho shop...perhaps a bit more friendly, but mostly all business.
I went with the #18 - Rare Steak, Flank, Brisket, Tendon, and Tripe ($5.95).
I think I've had too many bowls of pho...I recognized the pattern on the bowl; it's the same as the bowls at Pho Cow Cali and Pho Hiep and Grill. Sheesh. The broth though, being on the "sweeter" side reminded me of Pho Fifth Avenue. It wasn't quite as beefy, though it had some anise tones. A decent broth, a bit too light, but not overly salty. It was also a bit on the cloudy side.
I appreciate the generous amount of nicely prepared tripe; though the rare steak was totally cooked by the time the bowl reached me and rigor mortis had set in. The rest of the meats were meh......tasteless, much of it falling apart, the tendon tougher than I prefer.
The noodles were overdone and mushy.
Overall, not a bad bowl, possibly the best I've had in the area. If I were in the area, I'd stop by again. The broth wasn't bad, the prices decent, and one other thing....the hot tea was free....I know, it's usually only a buck.....but for some reason I appreciated an ok pot of tea gratis.
Pho Hung Cali 1060 Broadway Chula Vista Chula Vista, CA 91911 Hours: Mon - Sun 8am - 9pm
Pho Saigon and Grill:
This place is located right across from 24 Hour Fitness on Carmel Mountain Road. The place I needed to be at wasn't open until 10 am so I decided to grab some breakfast here.
The folks here were really nice.
I got the Pho Dac Biet (small - $6.95), which arrived super piping hot. The presentation reminded me of Pho Paradise.
The herbs and sprouts portion was on the small side.
The broth was highly defatted, but had a nice dark hue. It didn't quite deliver on it's color being very light in flavor and quite salty.
The tendon, as you can tell was good, as was the brisket, which had kept a nice beefy goodness. The flank was too tough, the rare steak cut too thick, and the tripe MIA.
The noodles were dead on perfect. Not sure why all places can't do it this way?
Overall a nice experience with regards to the staff. The pho was decent, but nothing worth going out of my way for.
Pho Saigon & Grill 9975 Carmel Mountain Rd San Diego, CA 92129 Hours Mon - Sun 9am - 9pm
Of course, the underlying question is; which of these two bowls did I enjoy more? I've got to say Pho Hung Cali, based on the broth, which was more complex and had more flavor.