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Apr 17, 2007 04:04 PM

Kim's Vietnamese & Chinese - Encinitas

Anyone been?

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  1. I guess I'll strike here and do the deed... Yes I have, and it gives me no particular pleasure to have to say this about almost any establishment, but it's practically in the pathetic category. I seem to recall that there's actually a glowing review in the Reader of Kim's, but it couldn't be more off the mark.

    The review as I recall talks about their extensive menu. Well of course as most Chowhounds know, extensive menus are not a good sign for most places, especially for a place so small and with such a paucity of customers. I almost felt as though I was part of an elaborate ruse when reading the menu, as the size and scope of the menu was so much beyond what should reasonably be attempted in an operation so small.

    I also recall in the review a positive mention of their pho. Well pho happens to be one of my favorite foods, and I've been known to have it as often as 5 days a week. Their pho is so far off the mark that it would make you think that the soup came out of a can, which actually wouldn't surprise me at all. And to "top it off", so to speak, the choice of toppings was very limited, much like the pho shops that I see in L.A.'s Koreatown. The toppings are "pre-selected" and categorized under very generic names, rather than the precisely named selections that I am used to seeing from S.D. pho shops, where one can always have the option of going completely "off road" and request specifically the combination of toppings you wish. Menus listings such as this offer no more clues than an entry for "red wine" vs., say, a "2002 Silver Oak Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon".

    I'll have to admit though that when I stepped into this store there was a rather large party who were raving about the food quite vociferously, about it being "their favorite place". I remember thinking at the time how sometimes a certain culinary ignorance can come in handy; rather than walking away with a sense of major disappointment I might have come out feeling happy as a clam...

    Being a Chowhound does have it's price...

    2 Replies
    1. re: cgfan

      When I worked in Solana Beach I used to go there nearly every week for their vegetarian lunch plates, which are quite good - fresh veggies, good sauces, good brown rice. You're right about the pho though - it's pretty bad. I've never been there for dinner, but I do remember laughing a few times about their 12 or 14 page menu... maybe they want to make sure we know which end of the generalist/specialist scale they're on? :)

      1. re: cgfan

        Oh no! I was hoping for something good! :-(

      2. Funny, but a just overheard a coworker mention how she loves this place more than a Vietnamese place she went to on Convoy. I have a sneaking suspicion, though, that she's not a fan of truly Asian dishes and perhaps she likes Kim's because it's more Americanized?

        2 Replies
        1. re: leanneabe

          The prices are absurd compared to the authentic Vietnamese restaurants in Little Saigon (e.g., $8.50 for a bowl of pho). We left after reading the menu and waiting ten minutes for service that never arrived.

          1. re: MrZosh

            I find even more absurd is the size of their menu...

            It reminds me of many of the operations profiled in Gordon Ramsay's "Kitchen Nightmares". Impossibly extensive menus that can only translate to frozen this, frozen that, and with no attempt at specialization.

            And the resulting food does not lie and clearly reveals the charade.

        2. We dined at Kim's last night on the recommendation of a Vietnamese friend. I am glad I did not read these revues before we went. I too felt the menu was overwhelming but asked our server (the owner's daughter) for suggestions. Since we wanted seafood she steered us to the seafood marinated with lemon grass. She suggested the "small" portion would feed both of us, which at $25 was a bargain! The seafood of shrimp, squid, scallops, and fish was fresh and cooked to perfection. We both agreed we will return and wade our way through the mega choices.

          1. The center where KIm's is located has changed owners and hiked every businesses rent to the ceiling. Thus, to stay in business you see higher than normal food prices. My wife and I have been going to Kim's for eight years. The menu is extensive and because we like about ten dishes, that is what we order from. We order various Pho's, crispy eggrolls to wrap in rice paper, Sate Beef, Papaya Salad with shrimp and pork are our favorites. Comparing Kim's to restaurants in Korea Town in L.A. is stupid. Pho is Vietnamese not Korean. We recommend Kim's!

            1 Reply
            1. re: Foodie King

              "Comparing Kim's to restaurants in Korea Town in L.A. is stupid. "

              No, because that's just how bad it is... (Actually I'm being nice here. In reality it was much, much worse...) More specifically my reference was to the lack of selection in protein items, just as in the Pho shops one finds in L.A.'s Koreatown.

              "Pho is Vietnamese not Korean."

              No one said, or even implied, that Pho is Korean. FK, please (carefully) re-read my opening response...

              Though I suspect most restaurants won't fare well under such critical scrutiny, I remember after dining at Kim's that I wished one could order up a filming of Kitchen Nightmares right away...

              I can just imagine Gordon Ramsay tearing down their laughably "extensive" menu. And I'd love to see just what's in their freezer and walk-in!