Pho Ban Mai revisit

Dennis and I keep finding ourselves revisiting Pho Ban Mai when craving local Vietnamese food... or when we are in the mood for these:

butter chicken wings at Pho Ban Mai

Buttered Chicken Wings (8.99). These remind us of Dennis's family's butter chicken wings, which we only get for the holidays! So now we don't have to wait that long or make a big mess frying things at home! They are well salted, have a thinner yet crispy batter and are juicy and moist inside! I even got my brother and his girlfriend addicted after introducing it to them once.

nem nuong / nem tom at Pho Ban Mai

We also like to order the specialty spring rolls here: Nem Nuong x 4 (6.99). The price is really good for these, $1.50 for pork meat and $2 for shrimp meat. Earlier in January, I went to a restaurant that was selling spring rolls for $3 each! Too much!

nem nuong / nem tom (pork/shrimp spring roll) closeup at Pho Ban Mai

Here's the cross section: shrimp is on the left and pork is on the right. I also love how spring rolls and other Vietnamese dishes tend to have veggies. It's one of the healthiest cuisines out there and great for new years resolutions.

banh xeo (vietnamese pizza) at Pho Ban Mai

Their version of Banh Xeo (7.99) works great for me too. That's a "Vietnamese pizza" as my mom called it!

banh xeo (vietnamese pizza) at Pho Ban Mai

Here's what it looks like on the inside. They cook the meat and onions, add the batter, stuff it with bean sprouts, then fold it in half like an omlette! I asked for bean sprouts on the side since I don't like them.

banh xeo (vietnamese pizza) at Pho Ban Mai

This is how I was taught to eat it: break off a piece, wrap it in lettuce, then dip in the fish sauce. So good that I wish I had some now.

tofu and eggplant at Pho Ban Mai

I also tried the Eggplant and Tofu (7.95) dish here and really love the flavor of the sauce with the eggplant. I wish I knew how to make this dish! One thing I didn't like as much was that some of the eggplant skin pieces were still attached and on the chewier side. I feel like it should all be soft.

pho dac biet xe lua (extra large special pho) at Pho Ban Mai

Dennis also tried out the large bowl of Pho Dac Biet (7.50), the special pho which is the one that comes with everything, including tendon, tripe, etc. Tastewise it's decent but we were amazed on how much meat came in this dish too, at least for a pho dish!

Hu Thieu (rice noodle) at Pho Ban Mai

I also tried the Hu Thieu (7.95) rice noodle dish and really enjoy the vietnamese style gravy. I think it's been a while too so I was digging into all the saucy broccoli bits!

I'll probably try the bun thit nuong cha gia (rice noodle with bbq pork and eggroll) next time. I'm sure there are plenty of other tasty options based on what you like. Pho Ban Mai is super busy on the weekends, but the wait is never that long. It's a nice spot for good comfort Vietnamese food!

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Pho Ban Mai
8991 Mira Mesa Boulevard
San Diego CA 92126
(858) 271-7199

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Jinxi's picture
Submitted by Jinxi (not verified) on Wed, 01/28/2015 - 12:38am

Ooh I love banh xeo! Looking at that photo almost made me drool hehe. I'll have to try that at Pho Ban Mai next time =)

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Wed, 01/28/2015 - 11:53pm

The photos make me crave it too! This version reminds me of my mom's. I definitely want to try at a few other places though for more comparison!

J.S. @ Sun Diego Eats's picture
Submitted by J.S. @ Sun Dieg... (not verified) on Wed, 01/28/2015 - 5:05pm

I've always seen the omelette thing but never ordered it as it doesn't seem that appealing to me....but wrapped in lettuce and dipped in fish sauce!! That's a whole other story. And I love bean sprouts too so I think I would be a fan.

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Thu, 01/29/2015 - 12:01am

Well now you know how to do it right! Hope you get a chance to try it!

Faye's picture
Submitted by Faye (not verified) on Thu, 01/29/2015 - 1:28pm

I didn't know they had chicken wings here! The sauce for the spring rolls looks yummy. I like eating the raw bean sprouts with the peanut sauce for some reason. Is there a reason you don't like bean sprouts?

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Thu, 01/29/2015 - 3:41pm

We discovered the chicken wings on our second visit there. I much prefer that fried skin goodness over other versions covered in sauce. As for bean sprouts, they're generally bland in taste and don't really seem to add much to a dish for me. I always try to eat my banh xeo without them!

Lisa Tran's picture
Submitted by Lisa Tran (not verified) on Thu, 01/29/2015 - 10:33pm

I got drooly looking at these pics. Looks great! A little expensive for Viet food? Idk, I feel like my mom would scoff at some of these prices but it still looks seriously good!

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Fri, 01/30/2015 - 1:01pm

Hmm, most stuff is under $10 plus there's more variety than the two long-standing pho places in Mira Mesa... it's much cheaper than the places we visited during SD restaurant week!

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