Just noodling around on this Saturday:
Menya Ultra Ramen:
I actually went back a couple of days after my first visit. There was no line, all the customers were Japanese and I got the Chashu Ramen.
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:
In my Pho Duyen Mai "dem bones" post; I mentioned being told that the prices at Pho T Cali had gone up quite a bit. While Pho T Cali has never been a favorite of mine, I recall the prices being fairly reasonable. I think it was still under seven bucks when I declared it "aw pho".
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.