Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Diego >
Mar 21, 2011 09:04 AM

I am a Pho me lose it to somewhere really good.

I want my first Pho experience to be a good one...
Remember, that I don't do beef but chicken or tofu with lots of veggies..
Loved to know where you go for your Pho.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Pho 5th Avenue in Hillcrest is a good starting point, IMO. They cater to vegetarians much more than other pho shops do.

    They have a vegetarian pho w/ tofu and vegetables, which can be made with chicken broth, that my wife gets all the time, though she substitutes mock chicken for the tofu. That's a substitution I'd recommend, it's much tastier that way.

    Their tofu salad rolls are also very good.

    2 Replies
      1. re: Beach Chick

        Josh has the correct answer. They have a great pho mignon, which is rare (pun intended).

    1. This is a tough nut to crack because pho in the U.S. always seems to utilize a beef-based stock. Even the seafood versions use the beef stock as a base. I don't do mammals at all anymore and had pretty much given up hope of finding a decent beef-less pho here in San Diego. I'll have to check out Josh's suggestion.

      Any other really good beef-less phos out there?

      1. Pho Mignon on Convoy is a good choice. It is a bit more western friendly and the Pho is very good. Also, the waiters are all very friendly and talkative and many appear to be 2nd generation. They can explain things to Pho newbies. It also has some great beers on tap. My sister had a very good chicken, bok choy, and Tofu Pho. I did the standard Tai, Nam, Gau, Gan, Sach with the extra fat on the side. I think the broth was standard beef but with less fat than is normal, so some purists don't like as much. You didn't say specifically that you were a vegetarian and I'm not sure if they have a vege broth, but it is likely. My sister also doesn't like beef but was fairly happy with the broth. Soda refills also which is very rare in a Vietnamese place.

        8 Replies
        1. re: thirtyeyes

          do they have Vietnamese beers on tap?
          Do you spice up Pho with chiles?
          Thanks thirtyeyes..

          1. re: Beach Chick

            They also have (or had) a great squid salad special if you do seafood.

            They are expanding the beer menu, but not sure if they have a vietnamese beer on it yet. I've probably been there twice with 2 months between each visit and a lot of stuff changes (for the better) each time.

            As for the chiles, I don't think it's actually pho if you mess with the soup base by default. After they bring it out, the garnish usually gives some jalapenos that you can add to the soup, and you can always add your favorite hot sauce of choice. I suggest that you taste the broth before adding anything, and re-taste as you add more stuff to see how the flavor changes. One of the biggest mistake that most people make is that they start adding a lot of sauce before tasting the broth (and the broth usually tastes different every visit even at the same pho places)

            1. re: karaethon

              love seafood and squid too.

              So, they do have a little garnish plate of goodies..good to know but I hear the heart and soul of Pho is the broth and I always try and taste my food before I gussy it up with spice, garlic and more hot chiles.
              Thanks again Karaethon!

              1. re: Beach Chick

                Here's Nguyen's pho recipe. If you scroll down, you'll see the garnishes she uses which I do also. I love the little Thai chiles but I just put tiny slivers in. And, yes, the broth is divine. I know y'all aren't looking to make this but just reading the ingredients should give a newbie some idea of what to expect taste wise.


                1. re: Beach Chick

                  One of the things I liked is that their garnish plate includes ngo gai in addition to the normal bean sprouts, basil leaves, jalapeno, and lime. This was standard in San Jose, but ngo gai is rare in San Diego. My last visit they also had rice herb (that's what they called it) which was new to me, but it added a nice flavor.

              2. re: Beach Chick

                Pho is served with a plate of garnishes, typically basil, bean sprouts, sliced jalapeno, and limes. Most pho places will also have sriracha, and red chili paste on the table, too. Pho 5th Ave. you have to ask for the chili paste, they keep it in the fridge, but that's my favorite condiment by far for spicing it up.

                1. re: Josh

                  love chili paste too...the hotter the better for me!

                  #P21. Phở Rau Cải Đậu Hũ 6.25 / 7.25
                  Tofu and mixed vegetables with beef or chicken broth.

                  This looks like the one that would work for me..
                  Can't fresh garlic an option?

                  1. re: Beach Chick

                    Not sure on the garlic. Probably?

            2. Hope you didn't have a Pho.. bia about Pho. You can spice it up pretty well plus you'll get a side of veggies to stir in.

              1. Not to split hairs, but by definition isn't Pho beef broth?

                Thus, chicken stock and/or veggie "versions" aren't technically Pho, atlhough I'm sure they can be quite good.

                2 Replies
                1. re: wanker

                  According to Nguyen, chicken pho broth is made from chicken. I think pho refers to the noodles but I'm no expert.

                  1. re: wanker

                    Pho Ga is chicken-based, with chicken broth.

                    Pho refers to the soup - I don't believe it specifically implies one kind of broth or another. The other words at the end describe how it's composed. Apparently in Vietnam vegetarian versions are more common than they are here.