I got a tip from one of my readers, Sandy, that a new pho shop had opened up on Mira Mesa Blvd which was pretty promising. This of course meant only one thing. Another pho trip!
Baby bro never gets sick of pho, so he was eager to go. Pho Ban Mai is located in the same plaza as our beloved Filipino fast food joint Manila Fast Foods (though maybe not as beloved anymore as they’ve changed owners and the food hasn’t been very consistent).
When we stepped inside, I was immediately surprised by how nice everything looked. It didn’t just look like a new restaurant, but it looked more fancy than the typical casual pho joint. I actually had to double check to make sure I walked through the right door and didn’t mistakenly walk into the Thai restaurant next door, especially since the booths. menu and decor reminded me more of a Thai restaurant.
We were seated in one of the fancy looking oversized booths. Once seated, we were given a very large and heavy menu, complete with a hard cover. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the menu prices did not reflect the decor and were on par with other pho joints in the area.
One thing I did immediately notice was that Pho Ban Mai did not seem to be sticking to the universal numbering for beef pho options. I suddenly had a new number for my usual order.
Some other things I noticed about the menu was that they offered a lot more different spring roll dishes and also more dessert smoothie drink options.
Once we ordered, we were given a basket of clean utensils! Having just encountered fresh and clean utensils at Nam An, I was pleasantly surprised to see this practice at another pho place. This is one trend I hope continues with future pho places.
I don’t know why I was so thrilled by this, but the spoons even came with little dishes for the spoon to rest on.
We ordered our usual egg rolls. The egg rolls here are a little on the slim slide, though they sort of made up for it by making them slightly longer. They were hot, crispy, tasty. I do wish they were rolled slightly thicker.
With so many spring rolls on the list, we decided to check out the Del Mar roll, which is stuffed with shrimp and squid.
FH was not a fan of the sauce accompanying the rolls. Normally the sauce has a more peanut based taste, but this one had sour notes as well. The skin was a little chewier than I’m used to for these rice wrappers. I was the only one who finished a roll, so I guess these didn’t go over that well at our table.
Here was a plate of the usual garnishes including the saw leafed herb. .
I stuck with my usual, rare steak and tripe, so I could properly compare. The broth was pleasant and flavorful, the portions average.
FH doesn’t love pho as much as my brothers so he decided to order a crispy egg noodle dish.
Baby Bro decided to venture for something new and chose a beef stew with noodles. At first, the waiter wrote down the wrong dish (perhaps this is why they shouldn’t mess with the numbering system!), so the wrong dish was made and brought out. Once we showed him that the number ordered was the beef stew, he immediately apologized and we got the correct order.
The stew soup was made with a tomato based broth. It reminded us a lot of the beef stews my mom cooks at home, but with enough broth so that it becomes a soup rather than a stew. It was okay, but we probably won’t order it again.
Overall, we had a good experience here. The nice decor and clean utensils is a plus. This spot will definitely be added to our rotation of pho places.
Pho Ban Mai
8991 Mira Mesa Blvd
San Diego, CA 92126