Monday, December 28, 2009

Pho Van

There are few things in life that I love more than a big steaming bowl of good pho. Luckily for me, there is almost no cuisine more rampant in California than Asian food! Besides Mexican food, the most readily available international dishes come from the Far East, and there's no shortage of hole-in-the-wall markets and restaurants filled with the chattery talk of the AZN Persuasion.

There are delicate differences in each bowl of pho, and they aren't always completely obvious to the pho newbie. You should expect to get a small side dish of optional additives such as lime, bean sprouts, and perhaps jalapenos or some other leafy herb. Most of the time they come with meat, noodles, broth, and some leaves or small spring onions, but there's a world of difference in each bowl. I love a good seafood pho, but few things beat the thinly sliced beef pho standby. Pho Van on El Cajon Boulevard in City Heights had an extensive and surprisingly cheap menu filled with pho and noodle dishes. It was obvious that pho was the main focus and as we were the only palefaces in the place, that was a good sign from the start. I got the somewhat off-putting meatball pho, in which the meat was not actually identified, but delicious nonetheless. Ashton got the mother of seafood phos, and with squid, shrimp, and god knows what else swimming around in there it was a delight to the palate. The large unidentifiable white chunks were a complete, albeit delicious, mystery.

Do I think Pho Van had the best pho around? Probably not. Was it a damn good place with fast and cheap service? Hell yes! Mr. Vo's still holds the title for (thus far in my San Diego pho travels) best pho, but Pho Van's innovation and menu put it right up there.