This past Saturday was particularly cold for San Diego standards. I was completely bundled up but when the wind blew, I felt like I wasn’t wearing anything. Hot noodle soup sounded perfect for the chilly conditions.

Mien Trung is a small Vietnamese restaurant, located next to Sushi diner and around the corner from K Sandwiches. The small space and worn sign makes it hard to spot.

Unlike the usual Vietnamese places that I have visited in the past, Mien Trung does not serve pho, but instead serves various Bún (rice vermicelli) dishes. I’ve been wanting to expand my experience with Vietnamese cuisine for a while and after some good posts on Mien Trung from mmm-yoso and A Radiused Corner, along with a recommendation from my friend Steve, I knew this would be a good place to check out.

I originally was there to try the Bun Bo Hue, which is a beef noodle soup. However, once I arrived and perused the menu, there were so many other broths and ingredients available. We decided to all get something different.

BF ordered the Bun Bo Hue

There was a lot of chili oil in the broth though you can’t really tell from the picture, and it made things a little too spicy for him. I thought it was on the spicy side as well, but I really enjoyed the lemongrass flavor and the richness of the broth.

I ordered the Bun Mang Vit, which is rice vermicelli soup with duck and bamboo shoots. The broth did not taste the same as the bun bo hue, but it was enjoyable. I liked that it arrived piping hot. I was pleasantly surprised that there were quite a few pieces of duck, though the ducks seemed to have been cooked too long because it didn’t have much flavor. The bamboo was a little tough and dry.

Baby Bro ordered a Bun Rieu, which has a crab flavored broth. I could definitely taste the crab flavor in the broth and I think I will try this next time.

A large plate of shredded cabbage was given to us to be added to the noodle soups.

Baby Bro’s GF ordered a dry bun dish with eggrolls and bbq pork. Her bowl consisted of some raw vegetables, topped with cooked vermicelli noodles and bbq pork and eggrolls cut up. I’m not a big fan of the dry bun dishes. I always think it’s weird that there isn’t any flavor in the noodles. I guess you are supposed to treat eating the plain noodles like eating rice.

We also got an order of eggrolls because I always want to try the eggrolls.

The skin of these eggrolls was very thick and slightly sweet. I don’t particularly like this type of egg roll skin.

We also got the steamed rice cake with shrimp and meatball.

The little rice cake pancakes are topped with shredded dried shrimp. There were also a few slices of the vietnamese meat loaf. The rice cakes by themselves did not have any flavor, but when dipped in the fish sauce, they were pretty tasty.

Overall, I really enjoyed my experience here. The hot soup was perfect on such a chilly day. The prices were quite reasonable. We will be back to try more dishes. The place is pretty tiny though so it’s not great for a large crowd.

Here is the menu:

Mien Trung
7530 Mesa College Dr Ste A
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 576-0962
Mien Trung on Urbanspoon

I’ve been searching for the perfect chocolate muffin recipe for a while. Every recipe I’ve tried has been disappointing. Chocolate flavor too mild, texture too spongy, batter too dry, etc. I was looking for a chocolate muffin that had a deep chocolate flavor, was sweeter than what would be considered a healthy breakfast, but not as sweet as a cake, with a texture that is that of a muffin rather than a cupcake.

My search is finally over. During my last attempt at a chocolate muffin recipe, a reader, Meryl, left me a message. She suggested a chocolate muffin recipe by King Arthur’s Flour. As soon as she made the suggestion I got excited. I had a feeling I had found “the recipe.” You see Meryl is the same person who introduced me to the my favorite chocolate cake recipe when I was on my search for the best chocolate cake. I stopped my search after I tried the Cook’s Illustrated Chocolate Cake she suggested to me.

Meryl was generous enough to provide me with the recipe with her notes. I wanted to make the recipe for a while, but I was always missing an ingredient. Finally I got around to it this weekend. The recipe was so easy to whip together. Could the best chocolate muffin recipe really be this simple?

After I let the muffins cool, I took one bite, and I knew my search was over. These were exactly what I was looking for in a chocolate muffin. I only wish that the I hadn’t used oversized muffin cups because I ended up slightly overbaking my first batch. I realize taste is very subjective and so this might not be the “best” recipe for you, but it the perfect recipe for me. Thank you Meryl!

Best Chocolate Muffins (from King Arthur’s Flour)

Yields: 12 muffins

INGREDIENTS:

2/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa
1 3/4 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon espresso powder, optional
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips
2 eggs
1 cup (8 ounces) milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons vinegar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
coarse pearl sugar, for topping (optional) (I omitted this)

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Line a standard muffin pan with paper or silicone muffin cups, and grease the cups.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, espresso powder, salt, and chocolate chips. (I put the chocolate chips in last after the rest of the batter was finished). Set aside.

In a large measuring cup or medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla and vinegar. Add the wet ingredients, along with the melted butter, to the dry ingredients, stirring to blend; there’s no need to beat these muffins, just make sure everything is well-combined. (I still had some little bumps in mine. I then stirred in the chocolate chips).

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tin; the cups will be heaped with batter, and the muffin will bake into a “mushroom” shape. Sprinkle with pearl sugar, if desired. (I left out the pearl sugar)

Bake the muffins for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove the muffins from the oven, and after 5 minutes remove them from the pan, allowing them to cool for about 15 minutes on a rack before peeling off the muffin papers or silicone cups.

Financiers are small french tea cakes made with almond flour, egg whites and brown butter. They are light and sweet and usually topped with fruit.

I recently saw some gluten free financiers on Une-deux senses. Her financiers were so elegant and pretty. I’ve seen the gluten free version before and have been wanting to make them. Instead of using regular flour, it uses sweet rice flour. Since I like sweet rice flour desserts, I was curious to see how financiers would taste using sweet rice flour.

I thought the sweet rice flour might make these very dense, but they didn’t. They still remained very light. I loved the light golden color of these financiers. I usually make mine with berries but this weekend I saw some gorgeous dragonfruit on sale and knew I wanted to try making them with dragonfruit.

Dragonfruit is a tropical fruit that looks very exotic, with its magenta colored skin and cactus-like shape. Funny thing, every time I am picking out dragon fruit, someone always approaches me asking how to pick dragon fruit. Honestly I don’t know too much about picking the fruit. I try to choose ones that have a dark pink skin and ones that aren’t too firm but aren’t soft/mushy.

To eat a dragon fruit, you simply cut it in half and you can eat the white flesh inside. The white flesh is very soft. You can use a sharp knife and cut the flesh into cubes and use the thick skin as a bowl. Dragon fruit has a very mild taste. It’s not very sweet and doesn’t taste much like anything. As a result, many people are disappointed and don’t like the taste. The little black seeds add a little crunch. I personally love dragon fruit. But then I love almost all tropical fruits.

You can use a variety of different molds for financiers. Usually I use a muffin tin. However, to get a nicer shape, I decided to use my tartlette pan this time. I was afraid that the financiers might stick to the fluted edges of the molds, but they slid out very easily.

Recipe: Dragon Fruit Financiers

(adapted from Une-deux senses)
Print Recipe here

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup ground almond flour
  • 1/3 cup sweet rice flour
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 cup dragon fruit, cut into small cubes

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Spray the inside of 12 financier molds or muffin cups with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, and let the butter melt and bubble. After a few minutes, you will hear the bubbling stop. Remove from the heat and let it cool for 5 minutes (the froth will dissipate) before straining it to remove the little dark butter particles at the bottom of the pan. If this is your first time browning butter, you can read more about it here.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the powdered sugar, ground almond flour, and sweet rice flour. Add the egg whites and mix. Add the brown butter, and mix with a whisk until smooth. Divide the batter among the molds. Press 3-4 pieces of dragon fruit onto the surface of each. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until golden brown.