There are a minuscule number of Vietnamese restaurants in San Diego compared to San Jose/the Bay Area. I just wanted to point out a peculiar thing… many Vietnamese restaurants up there like to incorporate numbers into their name such as the place I visited, Pho 909.
Anyways, I’m such Vietnamese food nut. Growing up at home I ate A LOT of home cooked Vietnamese food so I was sorely disappointed by the what was available in San Diego when I came down for school. There are two particular dishes that I really love and brings back found memories of childhood on lazy weekended when my mom would prepare feasts to eat the day away. One of these is the beloved bahn xeo.
My mom does some home care of elderly folks as a side job and one of her clients raved about this pho house that nobody goes to for the pho but for the bahn xeo and it turned out she instantly loved it too. You’ll find that since there are so many Vietnamese restaurants in the Bay Area that several places tend to develop a specialty and often patrons will only come for that even though there may be several other items on the menu.
On my last trip back to visit the family for Thanksgiving, my parents took me and and one of my sisters for lunch to try the yummy bahn xeo. They made it so perfectly! The crepe wasn’t too oily and was very crispy and the meat wasn’t cooked into the crepe so it wasn’t dried out. There was a pretty fair proportion of meat to bean sprouts. The mung beans still looked like mung beans and not some ground up paste. All the accompanying herbs and veggies were quite fresh and the dipping sauce tasted just right - not too fishy, salty, garlicky etc. A filling meal for $6.90!
I can see why one would come to this place for the bahn xeo alone. Making bahn xeo is such a labor of love because of the way the mung beans are traditionally prepared and also because of the dipping sauce. The beans should be soaked overnight and steamed so that they’ll be soft but still keep their original shape. Many restaurants will take a short cut on this as it is very time consuming considering the end product and just soak for a little while followed by boiling it down till it is a paste. I suppose that is why I really appreciate and fall into a childlike giddiness when I eat a scrumptious one.
72 South Park Victoria