Kirbie's Cravings

Spotted Cow

The food court inside Zion Market is just about complete.

Spotted Cow recently opened and Cocohodo Walnut Pastry Cafe has its menu up and looks to be in its finishing stages.

Spotted Cow is a made-to-order Vietnamese Pho place. I was a little cautious about how good it would be, especially with the lack of good pho in this area, but I decided to give it a shot.

When I had first read about the place, I had been under the impression that this would be more of a “build-your-own” pho place, especially since they have a bar of the fresh ingredients. However, instead, you can only choose from four different bowls, making the selection quite limited.

Once you order, they scoop out the noodles, the ingredients, and finally the soup. Everything is done in front of you. Then you pay and grab a seat in the food court area.


I personally didn’t quite understand why this “made-to-order” concept was made into such a big deal. While I’ve never seen the inner workings of a Vietnamese pho restaurant kitchen, I imagine that what happens behind those closed kitchen doors is very similar to the process at Spotted Cow. The noodle bowls can’t just be sitting around because the noodles would get soft and soggy so they can’t be put in until after your order is placed, and same with a lot of the ingredients that goes into the pho bowl.

#1 Special Beef Pho

There was a generous amount of flank and rare steak in this bowl. The tripe was limited to the one chunk seen in the photo. The soup base was decent, but a bit on the light side. The noodles, unfortunately, were overcooked and soft.

#3 Vegetarian Pho

For variety sake, I chose the vegetarian pho. I probably should have tried the beef stew instead. While this was a colorful bowl, it was too bland for me and I really missed the beef broth. Again, the noodles were too soft.

Overall, we weren’t very impressed with the offerings here. I was also disappointed to discover that this place–and every other place in the food court other than Korean Food– charges you for a to-go container for any leftovers you want to take home. Most of the places were charging around $.54-$.58 per container.

I had a hard time finishing my bowl of pho and actually ended up getting some jajangmyeon next door at Noodle J-I.

For my other Zion food court posts, check out:

Noodle J-I

Paris Baguette: Initial and Kronut visits

CDD Tofu & Grill

Spotted Cow (inside Zion Market)
7655 Clairemont Mesa Blvd
San Diego, California 92111

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11 comments on “Spotted Cow”

  1. Hey Kirbie – I’m not impressed by the Spotted Cow either…….

  2. I like the concept but see how it might be hard to execute. For me, pho has to come out piping hot. How was the temp of the broth after you got the bowls?

    • It was piping hot since they put the soup in last and I think the containers are heated. But I just didn’t really love the taste or the limited options.

  3. Too bad that this place isn’t that great. 🙁

    I hope Cocohodo is better! I’m curious to try their pastries.

  4. Aww darn, I was excited about this place =(

  5. What a bummer! I love the name, anyway. Cocohodo sounds really interesting!

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