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May 14, 2007 02:18 PM

Pho, Ramen, Noodle Soup near Downtown SD

Anyone have any idea about the closest place I can get decent pho, ramen, or chinese noodle soup from downtown San Diego? And please, don't say SD Superior Court.

I occassionally need to satisfy an intense craving, and driving 10 miles to Convoy is getting a bit much.


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  1. Saffron on India St. (near Shakespeare's) has noodle soups, though more Thai style. I know some folks on the boards don't care for Saffron, but I've always found their noodle soups to be very tasty. They are somewhat reminiscent of pho, in that they have a clear broth and thin rice noodles.

    I understand that there's a place that opened somewhat recently in Hillcrest doing an upscale take on Vietnamese food.

    You also have the option of driving up to City Heights, which should be closer than Convoy St. There are numerous Viet places up there on University, east of the 15.

    I've also spied a pho place in Mission Valley, across from Mission Valley Center. It's near Sammy's and Hooters.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Josh

      Pho Cali is the one I think you're writing about. It's about as good a bowl of Pho as a former mechanic and an employee of Kodak(which is what I read) can make. You will pay the "Mission Valley" premium of about $1 or more per item, and at the time of my visit Banh Mi was $4.99! I hope it's a really good Banh Mi.

      Pho' Cali
      1400 Camino De La Reina #105
      San Diego, CA 92018

      Open 9:30AM- 9:30PM Daily

      Though I'd rather drive straight up Ulric to Linda Vista, about another mile and a half, for either Pho Hoa or Pho Hoa Hiep.

      1. re: KirkK

        That's a funny description. Haven't yet been there. Haven't been to Pho Hoa or Pho Hoa Hiep yet either, what can you tell me about them? Or should I just look at your blog? BTW, I owe you thanks for all your writing about Ba Ren. I've really grown to love that place.

        1. re: Josh

          Nah, the blog is just a fun food diary.....

          Though the two restaurants have similar names, and it gets a bit confusing, they are literally "night and day" when it comes to broth. We all have different preferences, and I happen to think that the broth is the key element to Pho.
          Pho Hoa Hiep, is a lighter broth, usually with milder flavor, so you can taste the cilantro, green onions, ngo ngai, and such. The broth also tends to have a bit less oil in it. The meat can be inconsistent, though I enjoy the tendon, I've found the rare steak(Tai) to sometimes be really dry and tough, even though it's usually cut very thin.

          Pho Hoa (aka Pho Hoa Huong), when it comes to broth is the polar opposite, the broth is usually on the darker side, ranging from light brown to very, very brown, and is sometimes cloudy, which I've been told marks very poorly made Pho, but I still enjoy it. The broth tends to be a bit more beefy and salty than Pho Hoa Hiep. I tend to have the Pho here when I want something a bit more substantial. I can often times get in and out of this place in 30 minutes or less.

          I'm glad you enjoy Ba Ren, when you first wrote the article in City Beat, they were tickled, and went looking for copies, but didn't know where to look. We managed to scrounge up 8 copies so everyone could have one of their own. While the Missus and I were eating She overheard them trying to figure out who you were, it was quite entertaining.
          I think you may enjoy a visit to Tsuruhashi in the near future.

          1. re: KirkK

            Heh, that's funny. I should identify myself next time. I've been curious about Tsuruhashi, glad to hear it's a worthy desitination. I'll have to go check it out.

            1. re: Josh

              Josh: While we're mentioning Tsuruhashi, here are some pics I've taken since their opening in San Diego... ( )

              1. re: cgfan

                Damn, that looks incredible. I will definitely be checking that out soon. Looks like some liver and tongue in the mix, if I'm not mistaken.

                1. re: Josh

                  Yes it is. BTW the liver that you see is a plate of beef liver sashimi...

                  The standout there so far (and I've already been there 6-7 times since they opened!) is the harami (side skirt). Also a good surprise was the negi rosu (sirloin? w/green onions). The rosu by itself is too lean to be interesting to me, but in the rosu negi they top the slices with a compacted layer of very finely chopped onions, forming a sort of crust on top. The combination is very nice and adds moisture and sweetness to this rather lean cut.

                  I find that the quality of their meat is so spetacular that unlike my earlier visits I order the "jo" (for "jotou", or premium) version less often of the various cuts. (Many of the cuts they offer are avalable in both a standard and a "jo" version.) You'll end up paying a lot less and still have a very good meal...

                  1. re: cgfan

                    man this place is wonderous. they sometimes have another meat between the kobe and the prime, at least that's what the waitress suggested to me.

                    anyway you look at it, delicious.

              2. re: Josh

                Ah ha - I thought that was you! Now I know. I just saw your K Sandwiches review on the wall in there the other day.

                With respect to the original post, I would definitely recommend Dao Son on El Cajon for Vietnamese/Japanese near downtown. I have also had food from the Mission Valley place and it was very good - haven't tried the Pho though.

      2. It won't help you today, but it's one I've really been looking fwd to:

        In late May, Alex Thao of Celadon Thai and Rama will open CHOW in Hillcrest. This urban noodle house will offer familiar pan-Asian dishes like pad thai, ramen and pho, but also feature lesser-knowns such as Thai seafood-tamarind yentafoe. The Rodolfo Ocio-designed space is hip, cool and—best of all—moderately priced. CHOW, 540 University Ave., San Diego, 619-297-8424.

        Info comes from

        1. Word has it that Dao Son on El Cajon Blvd. has great soup noodles and there's a variety of them. It's west of the Oregon St. intersection.

          And $4.99 for banh mi sounds like a travesty to me. It better be a 2 foot long banh mi. :P

          1. There is a great Japanese ramen noodle place (also have yakisoba and sushi) in Chula Vista called Kanpai Restaurant! I lived in Japan and if the food isn't from Little Tokyo in LA it doesn't taste legit to me. But this restaurant is amazing! Its off Palomar & 3rd Avenue!

            1 Reply
            1. re: kawaiicatt

              Thank nonspecifichigherpower, I've been waiting 3 years for an answer to this question, and finally, finally it's here! I'm so hungry...

            2. There's a new pho place on 5th Avenue in Hillcrest, called Pho 5th Avenue. It's on 5th between Robinson and University. Very good pho, I like it a lot.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Josh

                Amazingly close to the pho from Saigon on ECB. Like a dead ringer. Even my waiter is from there. Which is a good thing, saves me fuel.

                1. re: Josh


                  Great place, very good pho- Pho on Fifth.

                  Also a place downtown on 6th Ave below B...can't remember the name. It caters to the lunch crowd, but makes a decent bowl, and they don't skimp on the tendon...