Viet Cali on Mira Mesa Blvd.
Had lunch with at Viet Cali in Mira Mesa today.
I was the guest and my dining companions did not even open the menu, and when the server arrived they told him what we wnated by by number, the 20 and 30. What was I going to have???
They ordered the #20, rice noodles with chicken soup @ $4.75 and #30, spring rolls with shrimp, @ $3.95.
I was told that I would be experiencing the best chicken soup I have ever had. I come from a long line of chicken soup makers, wife, mom, grandmother and aunt. This was a real build up for disappointment. They were right. We had to ask for a fork for the noodles and chicken. We each got our own bowl. I was told it was the small bowl. The soup came accompanied with a plate of basil sprigs, bean sprouts, limes and sliced chilis. After eating half the bowl I decided to try the lime and basil, which added a real taste explosion to already fantastic soup.
The soup was a clear broth and it was great!!! It was rich with rich chicken flavor and the bowl was filed with chicken pieces, scallion and noodles. If it had a matzo ball, it would have been complete.
They had 104 items on the menu, 98 of them were under $9, with a majority of them averaging about $6.50. They even serve beer and wine.
This is the one in the same strip mall as Spices Mira Mesa, Yoshi Sushi, and Bally's, right?
I eat lunch there at least once a week and it's pretty good. My favorite's #49, the broken rice plate with grilled beef (substituted for the standard grilled pork loaf) and Vietnamese quiche, otherwise known as cha. Good stuff and there's nothing like rice soaked in fish sauce.
Next time you're there, head to the bakery (Sorrento European Bakery) a couple doors down. The owner's really nice and the cakes/pastries are great.
Ironically, it was the reverse for me a couple of weekends ago. The parental units were visiting and we wanted to eat at Yoshi Sushi. Turns out both Yoshi Sushi and Pho Viet Cali are closed on Sunday, which is not surprising given that the weekday lunch crowd fuel their business, so we went to Spices. It was shockingly bad. I know Spices isn't the world's best Thai, but it used to be consistently decent. Maybe Sunday's an off-day.
I love the idea of pho ga with a matzo ball, by the way. I like the matzo at DZ Akins, but if you know of any other places with better matzo, please let me know!
The Sorrento European Bakery has wonderful french pastries, cookies and breads. Their stuff often turns up at big meetings where I work. I suppose it's a marketing decision not to call it the Sorrento Viet Bakery, which in a way is kind of sad. Anyway, I just discovered that the bakery also offers a short selection of sandwiches -- both traditional (turkey, tuna, etc.) and Banh Mi -- at really low prices. As the lady was wrapping up my sandwich to go, I suddenly spotted a warming compartment with pate chaud -- biscuit-sized puff pastry stuffed with ground pork and onions. They're only $1.19 each, and after I was back at my desk and had consumed it, I wished I'd bought four or five of them. Haven't yet tried the Banh mi, but I'm frankly a little cautious, just because they're so cheap ($2.85), but in light of how good that pate chaud turned out, I'm probably going to get one for lunch today.
re: Jim Strain
If you ever see the pate chaud case empty, it's because my boss emptied it. He buys them out of the day's worth whenever we drop by. To be honest, theirs is the best I've found in SD, but I've had even better ones up in LA.
The owner told my boss that he was in Sweden for two decades before immigrating to the States. That's where he trained, so I think that's why he's calling it a european bakery. He does have some Swedish treats that look interesting. I really liked the rum-cream filled pastry (it's not Swedish ;)). It's in the case to the right and it's two thin flaky pastry crisps with a cream filling in the middle.
Another fabulous thing they have is the tea bread, which is basically a egg-based, yeasty bun. It's simple and works beautifully for breakfast with tea or coffee.
My boss had the banh mi and said it was pretty good. Pho Viet Cali also has decent banh mi for about $2.50. Don't worry about price... they're supposed to run fairly cheap and if you're paying more than $3, it's probably not worth it. If you're ever at 99 Ranch, there's a Vietnamese food stand right across from the checkstands. Their banh mi is fabulous.
I like the pho ga at Pho Hoa Cali, too. (7351 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., eta: now called Pho T Cali, same place) Will have to try Viet Cali, thanks.
Next time ask them to add some meatballs called "Bo Vien" to your soup. Then it will almost be like having a matzo ball.