Elotes & Banh Xeo SD
- kare_raisu Jan 19, 2008 06:48 PM
There was a taco truck up north that I used to stop by on my way home from work for a snack. That snack usally consisted of an Elote. If you are not familiar with these, they are steamed and/or grilled corns on the cob that the cook then lovingly embelishes. The embelishments are the twirled smear of mayo or crema, then an important very liberal coating of snowy cotija, followed by a dusting of powdered chile. You are given limes on the side. You eat these dowel impaled beauties messily...or at least I did. I liken the experience of biting into a juicy, sweet, hot, salty, and spicy delight enrobed with deliciousness.
Have you seen these in SD? I recall DD pointing out an Esquite vendor at the Escon. SMeet but no elotes. Its not corn season but I thought Id try anyway...
On a completely unrelated topic, I had a Vietnamese "crepe" for the first time last night. It was great - do you know which Viet restaurants in SD excel in its production. Ideally, I am looking for a wispy, lighter than air edging on the omelette and lots of herbs with the lettuce for wrapping.
My little Mexican market, La Tiendita, commonly has Elotes during the season. All the fixings and boy is it good. La Tiendita is at the corner of Clairemont Drive and Clairemont Mesa Blvd. Nice little carniceria, some okay verduras, frutas y platanos. Tambien chiles seco y fresco. Occasionally they have some verdolagas, huazontle and fresh hoja santa that they feature on their checkout stand. Good fresh crema and quesos that I suspect may not be USDA approved...not too sure.
Try it sometime.
All in all, not a bad little market.
A good banh xeo is really, really hard to find. The best I know of come from Mom, but she isn't in SD. Anyhoo, where did you try it? The only place I've seen it here is at Phuong Trang and, quite honestly, it's mediocre. The shell is heavy and slightly burnt and the filling is ok. They do provide lots of herbs/lettuce to go with it. Despite it's yellow color, the shell contains no eggs, but rice flour, instead.
When I lived in LA there was a guy who would walk around my neighborhood pushing a cart with bells on it selling Elotes. We would hear him coming and we would run outside like kids running to meet the ice cream man. We always just called him "the corn guy." A friend of mine used to actually drive around looking for him if he didn't show at his usual time. Not long ago I heard those same types of bells outside our house here in SD and I ran outside hoping and praying it was "the corn guy." Unfortunately, I never found the source of the bells. Seriously, it's that good.
I've had banh xeo at Saigon on El Cajon Blvd., Pho Pasteur on Linda Vista, and at a little place off El Cajon Blvd. who's name escapes me. (I'll ask my brother about the last one, as we were together.) Saigon's was greasy, crispy but very greasy, and Pho Pasteur's was less greasy but a little flabby. I remember the third place's as being the best of the three, not great, but okay, but I'll have to get back to you on that one. I've made them at home, and yes, they're tricky b/c the batter can stick easily if it's not rested a bit and the temp of the pan isn't right. Mai Pham has a good recipe in her book Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table.
ETA: I emailed bro, and he says the third place I mentioned above is Que Hong, off University, not off ECB. He remembered the banh xeo there as striking a balance between crunchy and greasy, definitely worth a try.
4455 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92115
Anh Hong Pho Pasteur Restaurant
7612 Linda Vista Rd, San Diego, CA 92111