Oct 2008

Phở Hòa- San Diego

While The Astronomer was visiting his family and exploring the Vietnamese food scene in Alabama, I stayed in San Diego to search for meaningful employment. With the economy in such tip-top shape, I was turning down offers left and right—ha! During my time in San Diego, I had a pretty sweet routine of searching for jobs in the morning and then hanging out at my grandparents’ house in the afternoon. They’d feed me extremely well and in return I provided quality massages and good laughs.

One afternoon, my grandma expressed interest in going shopping for some new threads. She and my grandpa were heading to the Big Apple for the first time ever and she wanted to rock Manhattan in style. We settled on a date and my grandpa suggested that we fuel up on pho before giving our credit cards a workout. We nodded in agreement.

On an uncharacteristically cloudy Friday morning, my grandparents and I set out for some hot noodles and stylin’ wares.

First stop, Pho Hoa. Pho Hoa is located in a Vietnamese enclave centered around an unsavory stretch of El Cajon Boulevard. My family has been frequenting this noodle shop for years and years. Over time, the restaurant’s interior has gotten a lot spiffier, while the exterior remains dingy—at least the laughing cow is as jolly as can be.

Pho Hoa serves only one dish—pho bo. Although the menu doesn’t offer breadth, it offers a great deal of depth due to the countless combinations of beefy odds and ends available. My grandma and I both settled on the pho tai (rare beef) nam (cooked beef brisket) sach (tripe), while my grandpa chose pho tai nam gan (tendon).

Pho Hoa’s broth is clear, flavorful, fragrant and contains a thoroughly authentic dose of MSG. The various cuts of meat were plentiful and high in quality, especially the thinly sliced rare cuts. We garnished our bowls of pho with bean sprouts, limes, basil, sawtooth herb, jalapenos, hoisin sauce and Sriracha chili sauce. Our plate of greens wasn’t as huge as those in Vietnam, but it was definitely piled high enough.

While I can’t say that pho in America is vastly better than Vietnam’s, I can say with confidence that the pho bo at Pho Hoa is better than any bowl of pho bo I ate in Saigon.

After our pho fest, we headed over to Fashion Valley to find my grandma some new blouses.

My Ong Ngoai and Ba Ngoai walking through the mall.

My Ong Ngoai reading at Talbots while waiting for Ba Ngaoi to shop.

My Ong Ngoai and Ba Ngoai enjoying some massage-action at Brookstone.

Phở Hòa
4717 El Cajon Blvd.
San Diego, CA‎ 92115
Phone: 619-283-6431‎

Pho Hoa on Urbanspoon

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6 thoughts on “Phở Hòa- San Diego

  1. This is not the same as the Pho Hoa chain in North America isn’t it? (Don’t know how popular it is in the US, but it’s pretty ubiquitous in Vancouver). People bash me for it, but I like their pho, I don’t care if they’re a chain. That also tells you how “good” the Vietnamese food scene in Vancouver is…

  2. Can’t say much about the pho places in the West Coast, but the places I have been to in the East from NYC to Miami are hit-or-miss. Some are great that I would patronize again and again. Some that are…blehh.
    Some are clean, some are not so clean. And I’ve never really liked how every places use the same generic sirachi and hoisin sauces. I prefer the “homemade” stuffs they serve in VN. Pho is best eaten while seating on plastic toy chairs amidst the dust, smog, traffic noise and some guy is blowing smoke in your face. The best pho I had was when I was dying from malaria and other ailments. The pho lady who has an operation near my house (not in SG) made home delivery.

  3. What a lovely couple your Ông, Bà Ngoại. They both look all so snappy. From the pictures, I would say that you resemble more your granddad, minus the goatee of course. From the above photos, I can say unequivocally that you inherited your studiousness from your Ông Ngoại and your “shopping” gene from your Bà Ngoại.

  4. WC – I think they’re the cutest couple around. Vern says my grandpa looks dapper.

    Miss Adventure & Foodhoe – After reading your comments, I asked The Astronomer if it was uncommon for an old, Asian man to rock a goatee. I always thought it was pretty common, but he thought that it was uncommon. Upon Google imaging “Old Asian Man,” I found that it is in fact quite common for old, Asian dudes to sport goatees 😉

    NN – I wondered the same thing when I was writing up this post, but concluded that it wasn’t the same chain because the logos are completely different and no one at Pho Hoa San Diego is boasting about pho’s health benefits. In fact, I think it’s widely known that they use A LOT of MSG. There is a Pho Hoa that’s part of the chain in Philadelphia, but I never got a chance to try it. And don’t let the haters stop you from enjoying your pho of choice 😉

    Long – Your comments made me laugh out loud. I totally agree with you that the ambient factors in Vietnam REALLY make the food sing. What I wouldn’t give for a tiny plastic stool these days!

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