Pho Ban Mai

TAI GAU bowl of pho (pronounced "fuh") with rare steak and fatty brisket.

8991 Mira Mesa Blvd
San Diego, CA | MAP

WHAT TO EAT: Pick a pho, any pho...
EATER TIP: For a spicy kick ask for sate (pronounced "sa-tay") chili

Every time I approach the facade of what I believe to be San Diego's best Vietnamese restaurant, I seriously get excited. I don't mean "yay im going to eat some food" excited, but I mean "DROOL IS DRIPPING OUT MY MOUTH, BUT I DONT GIVE A BLEEP" excited. That's because whenever I open that front door, I know my tummy is soon to be filled with the best pho I have ever laid my taste buds on.

The first thing you notice once you're inside is how darn clean the place is: smudge-free menus, the seats don't stick to your butt, and you don't smell anything you shouldn't be smelling. It's always a displeasure when you reach for a bottle of sriracha or hoisin that looks like it's had a little accident, but here that's never been a problem. All of this of course has no direct effect on the quality of the food, but hey it helps.

There is never a shortage of friendly staff members who will ensure your experience is repeat-worthy. I've taken advantage of the personable service by inquiring how to pronounce my favorite dishes in the Vietnamese tongue. Having practiced over and over (with each and every visit) I am now able to order my usuals without saying numbers or pointing.

"Tai Gau" I order with an unavoidable smile. "LARGE."

BANH XEO  crispy crepe filled with shrimp, green onion, and bean sprouts. 

Other delicious dishes I've tried here include the egg rolls, chicken wings, char siu bánh mì (Vietnamese grilled pork sandwich) and bánh xèo (crispy Vietnamese crepe). One day I would like to try their traditional rice dishes which I've heard are quite good, but it ain't easy when I've gotta have my pho!

Until I pay a visit to the actual city of Hanoi in Vietnam (known to serve the best bowl of pho in the world), I will seek pho-fillment (sorry, I had to) at Pho Ban Mai.