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Jun 22, 2004 05:28 AM

Best Soup (PHO) in San Diego

  • m

I discovered Pho - Vietnam Soup by getting bored with the usual restaurants, especially when I am trying to avoid a overly filling large starchy meal

Started out with a couple of places further down Mira Mesa Blvd, but were not always the cleanest or the best tasting. Crowded and noisey with uncleared tables were a turn off. The broth was not consistently good.
During the past two years I have been driving past a place only a mile from home until I just had to try it.

Well, it turned out to be the very best prepared soups making for a very satisfying meal. The long simmered broth was light and easy on the stomach. A large portion off the VERY leanest ribeye center cut is thinly sliced and cooks at the table in the bubbling hot broth, which is promptly served after ordering. It comes with a large plate of VERY fresh and crispy Basil leaves and bean sprouts and several leaves of NGO GAI, which they do not know the English name for. Neither does anyone else apparently, since they have been trying to find out. I hope to have it within the week from the Vietnamese gal, who manages the NASA food service in Houston. There are several slices of a small green pepperlike veggie, also. Forgot to ask for name of that. But will ask on the next trip down the hill. There is more then enough noodles, and I have learned to ask for only half of the amount in the large bowl of PHO. It is just perfect now and I feel great. They also serve small bowls.
What is even more amazing is the price for the VERY highest quality served. At $4.65 for a large bowl, it is a steal. What is even more surprising is the 50% off for two bowls!! Certainly a large tip would still not be enough for the good food. I have never been disappointed here.

There are many more combinations with the usual choices of cuts of beef, that are typical for the Vietnamese. I order the same thing everytime cause it is so GQQD! High in protein and LOW in fat.
There is also Chicken soup, which I will have to try very soon.
The Spring Rolls are the freshest ever served to me, anywhere, and good to take home for a filling snack. Many more things are on the menu, but too numberous to mention.

PHO HOA HIEP is a family owned Vietnamese restaurant since 1991 located in Scrips Ranch/Mira Mesa at 9910 Mira Mesa Blvd. #A, San Diego, CA 92131. Phone (858) 578-1468. Hours Sun-Thurs 8AM-9:00PM (10:00PM Fri-Sat). It is located on the North side of Mira Mesa Blvd in the block East of the I-15. Go East to the End of Mira Mesa and make a LEGAL U-Turn, enter second driveway and turn to the right to park right in front of the front door.

Their other Location is PHO HOA HIEP - LINDA VISTA at 6947 Linda Vista Road #H, San Diego, Ca 92111. Phone (858) 268-8406. Hours Monday-Sunday 7:00-8:00PM.

This is family run and you will see them working to keep the places spic and span. It was recently remodeled and very comfortable. No dirty dishes or used napkins left on the tables.

Will look forward to your comments.



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  1. two places i like are pho hoa #1 (4717 el cajon blvd) and the one my parents frequent on linda vista rd(i don't know the name, it shared a building w/a rollerrink, in the parking lot w/ the big market). both are a bit grungy, but that's not really an issue for me when it's good. i'll have to branch out & try some other places mentioned on this board when i'm in sd-pho hoa hiep, pho pasteur.

    the green pepper should be either serrano or jalapeno. one bite will confirm this. i tend to like places w/the bitter & metallic tasting herbs thrown into the usual condiment mix.

    check out the link below to see explanations w/pictures


    17 Replies
    1. re: petradish

      Thank you for the information.

      I found the answer in the list of herbs.
      Ngo Gai is Mexican coriander or Culantro!

      A little Understood Herb, native to Central America.
      I am sure it aids digestion, as so many of the berbs do in addition to adding flavors.


      1. re: petradish

        As an aside - did you know that Pho Hoa is a chain??

        Of course that does not diminish, or in any way change how good/or bad the food is. We've eaten at both Pho Hoa locations in SD, and the one on ECB is much better.

        In fact, one of most pleasant meals we had when visiting Seattle in Dec was at Pho Hoa in the International District - one of the best tasting broths I've ever had.


        1. re: KirkK

          I checked out the link that KirkK posted, and was surprised to see what a big operation the Pho Hoa chain is. But I also noticed that they didn't list any locations in San Diego County. In an article I read several years ago, it was mentioned that there are many Pho restaurants that have the same name, because they are named in honor of famous Pho restaurants of the past in Vietnam. Sort of like opening a New Orleans style restaurant overseas and calling it "Antoine's." Kirk (or anyone else), do you happen to know for sure if the San Diego places are part of the chain, or perhaps coincidentally have the same name?
          . . jim strain in san diego.

          1. re: Jim Strain

            Funny - they used to be listed. Could be that they do the same thing that Ba-Le does, pseudo franchise their name. Let me ask them the next time I drop in.

            1. re: KirkK

              OK- spoke to someone I know....the Mira Mesa Pho Hoa is: Pho Hoa Anh.
              The Linda Vista Pho Hoa is Pho Hoa Hiep or Pho Hoa Huong.
              Sort of like all of he spin-offs of the Roberto's name that we have around town.

              1. re: KirkK

                I thought it was clear, that the two locations are not part of any chain and is certainly not the Anh!

                They are PHO HOA HIEP. And the addresses are given for the two family restaurants.

                NO need for any further confusing disinformation.

                1. re: msclonly

                  This is not disinformation - I was responding to petradishes post!

                  1. re: KirkK

                    Wednesday I enjoyed an early lunch, the #2 with rare beef, well-done brisket, tendon, and beef balls, at Pho Hoa Hiep. On East 12th Street in Oakland.

                    I think there's one on Buford Hwy in Atlanta, too. I know there's a Pho Hoa, the chain one.

                    Don't know why they do it. I know I like it.

                    1. re: Shep

                      To help clarify any confusion, Pho Hoa is a big chain, as apparent on their website. There are a lot of spin-offs, if you want to call them that. Some of these "spin-offs" are great, some not so great. Many Vietnamese restaurants that specialize in pho like to use "Pho Hoa" and then something else to distinguish themselves. I'm a lunch regular at Pho Hoa Hiep (work in Scripps Ranch) and mentioned to the gal, who manages the place for her family, about the Pho Hoa Hiep in Oakland, as referred by Kirk. She told me that her family doesn't own the ones (apparently there are more than one) in Oakland, but it's a nice coincidence since they have a good reputation for good foods as well.

                      Last week I went out on a limb and tried something new on their menu. I tried the char-grilled chicken over rice. It was very well marinated and tasty, a great alternative from the always wonderful pho.

                      This was an enlightening discussion, all over a bowl of pho! By the way, they have a website that gives a brief introduction about their restaurants:


                      1. re: shaynes

                        Thank you for all that information and the website. It would have saved a lot of posting and time, if I had known about it. The bottom line is it is a first rate place and consistently GQQD!

                        Will have to become adventurous and try some of the other dishes. Asking for only half the noodles makes it just the right amount and I don't feel guilty about leaving any or finishing them off.


                        1. re: msclonly

                          About three years ago my co-workers and I set out on what we call
                          "Tour de Pho" The idea was to try all the pho restaurants in San
                          Diego and any other city that we visit for business.

                          This became easier as my co-workers got hooked on the Pho. Each
                          restaurant we visit we swipe a business card and give an overall
                          assessment of the restaurant (i.e. food, service,
                          decor, cleanliness).

                          It been an on going crusade and to date we have about 20 Pho
                          restaurants under our belt. Out of the roughly 6 Pho restaurants
                          in San Diego we alway end up back at Pho Pho Hiep (about 3-4
                          time a week). I know we have a Pho addiction.

                          Our tour continues...See you there -->


                          1. re: nika_dang

                            Thanks for the confirmation as to the outstanding quality of the PHO HOA HIAP. It is the greatest and consistently excellent.
                            I got a kick out of your TOUR to find the best.
                            But only 20 places in three years seems a little low. But I understand, that all of you always want to go back to the HIEP 3 times a week, so it is hard to force yourself to go to another place, that just won't stand up to their standard. I believe twice in one week is my record. ALthough I much admit, I wanted to go a third time.
                            I think I am seeing more people eating there, since this string started. Perhaps the diners have a problem going somewhere else after going to the HIEP!

                            It seems like there are more then 20 PHO places just along Mira Mesa Blvd! But I have not had most of them pull me back bowl after bowl like the HIEP does. :)
                            Tried the new large place with a name that looks more Brazilian then Vietnamese, to do a taste test. It didn't make the grade! Small flimsy Mottled Basil and culentro leaves and OK broth. So I hesitate even trying another PHO shop other then the HIEP. :(

                            GQQD PHO to you,


                  2. re: msclonly

                    Last evening over a bowl of excellent PHO, I got the scoop on Pho restaurants.
                    PHO is what the Vietnamese call their soup in every home.
                    HOA is the name of the guy, who started PHO restaurants in the late 1970's, and called them "HOA"

                    In the early 1980's, he began to teach students to make PHO and started a Franchise called PHO HOA.

                    PHO HOA HIEP is NOT related to the Franchise chain or to HOA! There are two PHO HOA HIEP family run restaurants! The LINDA VISTA shop is about 17 years old, and the Mira Mesa shop is about 3 years old. See the first opening message for addresses, phone numbers, and hours of operation. They are VERY clean and have no uncomfortable smells. The tables are clean and you can put your arms down on them without getting smugged.
                    The very fresh Basil, bean sprouts, and Mexican Coriander leaves are crisp and healthy. The broth is very tasty and well prepared. A bargain at $4.25 or $4.95 for the large bowl. Special - 50% off the second bowl.

                    The Restrooms are also clean and odor free, which is not so common elsewhere.

                    I hope this clears up any misunderstandings or disinformation, that has crept into this string.



                    1. re: msclonly

                      Just to clarify, just in case I'm the subject of this diatribe...I never said that Pho Hoa Hiep was a franchise - I did state that Pho Hoa was a franchise - which is correct. If you didn't want to start a discussion about PHO, and wanted to just write about Pho Hoa Hiep (which we tried and is pretty good), you should've put that in your title line - not just Best Pho in San last word on this...enough already, I know you love the place and it does serve a good bowl of Pho - there was no harm intended, I realize it's all good....

                  3. re: KirkK

                    The ANH is coming to an end. It is being closed.

                    It is not the PHO HOA HIEP!
                    The HIEP is as good as ever and highly recommended.

                    Try it, you'll like it!


                    1. re: msclonly

                      The owner of Pho Hoa Hiep is actually good friends with my dad, but I say this with no bias--theirs is one of the best pho I've ever had!

                      Unfortunately, the Mira Mesa Blvd location is no longer there. They've moved to National City. But the Linda Vista location is still around.

                      My other favorites are Pho Ca Dao on Mira Mesa Blvd and Pho Cow Cali (once known as Pho Hoacali) on Black Mountain.

                      Keep in mind that pho is a lunchtime food, so the freshest pho is served then. By dinner, the broth has been simmering all day and may not taste as good. I remember going to Pho Hoa Hiep one day because I was in the Linda Vista area and being sorely disappointed.

                      1. re: hilarly

                        "Keep in mind that pho is a lunchtime food"

                        Pho is eaten 3 times a day in VN, really around the clock.

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