San Diego, CA

Pho Ca Dao Grill - San Diego Vietnamese Restaurant

Dinh Lee

Pho Ca Dao Grill is a traditional, authentic Vietnamese restaurant founded by the Huynh family, who came from Vietnam. They currently have seven locations throughout the entirety of San Diego including locations in Mira Mesa, East County, Rancho Bernardo, Santee, Poway, Mission Valley and Chula Vista! Each location has a menu that differs from each other slightly. Today we will be talking specifically about their Mission Valley location as that is the one I personally went to myself.

First and foremost, I absolutely loved their pho. I ordered their oxtail pho with bone marrow, which is slightly out of the ordinary for me, I usually only order the regular pho with rare steak, but I wanted to try one of their signature house dishes and oxtail and bone marrow sounded particularly amazing. And I am so glad that I ordered this because it was delightful. The braised oxtail was absolutely delicious and literally fell off the bone, extremely tender and flavorful, I loved the texture of it! The bone marrow was very satisfying to eat and the flavor was also impeccable, it was a great addition to the pho. But the pho itself was also fantastic. I’ve had a lot of pho in my days and I’m quite particular with my pho so I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and flavor of their pho. The broth was just perfect, so flavorful yet not overbearing, and still a very hearty and comforting broth. The noodles were really well cooked as well. Sometimes noodles can be too al-dente or too soggy, but these were perfect and they really absorbed a lot of the flavor from the broth which made it even more amazing. Overall, I definitely recommend their oxtail pho, but if you don’t like oxtail, I’d say their pho in general is very solid and you simply can’t go wrong with it!

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Pho@sanfoodiego/Instagram

As for their grilled salmon spring rolls, I’d say I wasn’t blown away by it but it wasn’t bad either. The salmon was a little bit dry, but their dipping sauce (which is a major component to all spring rolls) was delicious! It was exactly what I expected and paired with the spring roll very well. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this as the appetizer of choice though because I feel that they offer better appetizers, like their Vietnamese chicken wings, you can never go wrong with those!

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Spring Rolls@sanfoodiego/Instagram

The rice noodle salad bowl we ordered customized with beef, shrimp, and egg rolls was rather disappointing. The shrimp was slightly burned and overcooked. The beef was decent and the egg rolls were great. But all together as a dish I’d say it wasn’t worth it. The noodles were really good, however, and their fish sauce worked well with the dish but given how great their pho was, I can’t recommend this. I also feel like they have other better entrees, I would definitely recommend choosing from their signature house dishes.

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@sanfoodiego/Instagram

As for drinks, their thai tea was really good, I love thai tea and it definitely satisfied my craving for thai tea, I would recommend it! Now, for the dessert, we ordered their tri-color bean pudding, also known as che ba mau in Vietnamese. This is a very popular dessert in Vietnam which traditionally features the ingredients mean beans, pandan jelly, red beans, coconut milk or cream, and ice. The reason it is called tri-color is because there are three different layers with their own distinct colors, notably green (from the pandan jelly), brown (from the red beans) and white or yellow (from the coconut milk/cream or the mung bean). This a very lovely and creamy dessert, the coconut milk really pulls everything together. You can basically eat all of the ingredients by themselves and it would taste good like that, but people usually like to mix it all together and get a bit of each ingredient in every bite. I personally love the pandan jelly the best and it is the ingredient I gravitate towards, but the red beans and the mung beans are very enjoyable as well.

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Join me on my quest to eat at all the best restaurants in town and around the world! Follow me on Instagram @sanfoodiego for more food recs.

San Diego, CA
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