With the heat wave we experienced this weekend, the phrase “Dog Days of Summer” kept running through my head. It also reminded me that I still needed to write up this post of my trip to the Little Italy Mercarto with Z-baby (brother’s girlfriend’s puppy).

I was watching the puppy for a weekend and I thought it would be fun to take him to Little Italy Mercarto since they allow dogs.  When we got there, Z-baby was a huge hit. Everyone kept commenting on how cute he is and how cute his ear is. He has this one ear that always sticks up permanently. It’s something that developed a few months after he was born, and it makes him always look like he’s curious about something.

I always love trying out recipes with interesting names. These cookies were published in Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours, where she named them “World Peace Cookies” after her neighbor was convinced that eating these cookies could bring world peace and happiness.

The chocolate sable cookies are rich, chocolatey, and melt in your mouth. The dough is also easy to make.

Pho Ban Mai

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.