I finally met up with some friends yesterday for lunch. We ended up at Kim’s Vietnamese & Chinese Restaurant in Encinitas but to tell the truth, I was a bit reluctant because of some of the reviews I’ve read. But I was willing to try due to the “high” recommendation of Kim’s pho from one of my friends.
It was a bit of a haul from where I work but luckily, I had a bit of time. I got there around 11:30 am and there was only 1 occupied table. One of my friend, the one who recommended the place, got there just as I did. We chatted and caught up while we waited for the others. Once everyone showed up, it was clear we were all there for pho, well, because of the recommendation. Everyone had the beef pho but I decided on the beef, tendon and tripe pho just to be different.
Not too long after, our pho came out. Other than the difference between the size of a regular and large order, all the contents looked the same. The tripe and tendon in mine were buried beneath the noodles. Sorry the picture is so terrible but we were sitting in the back of the restaurant, which was very dark, and I had to resort to my Blackberry camera with flash. But that table cloth really is pink. As a matter of fact, the whole restaurant is rather pink.
But back to the pho. The tripe was decent but the tendons were tough and hard on the tooth (crunchy), not very flavorful. Our “recommender” was going on about how great the broth was but I’ve had better. The broth had some spiciness to it that I couldn’t put my finger on. But overall, it lacked depth and “beefiness” that I like. One of the eaters gave it a 7.5 out of 10. He thought the broth had good flavor, vegetables were fresh, but thought the beef wasn’t as tender as he would like. I agree with the beef. But there was a decent amount of it. Another eater gave the pho 4.5 out of 5! Guess I’m the odd duck out, hehe. His only complaint was that he wished the broth was hotter. Another thing he noticed was that the after taste of pho didn’t stay with him the rest of the day.
The side vegetables were the typical, which none of us really touched. I didn’t see if there was saw tooth leaves because I was too busy (and hungry). There was a whole lotta cilantro and green onions, a bit too much for my liking. You can see some of the stalks I fished out on the side of the plate. This actually would have been a decent bowl of pho if the noodles weren’t a bit overcooked and slightly mushy. But I was the only one who thought the noodles were a bit overcooked. I prefer my noodles a bit al dente with a bit of “tooth” to it. What can I say?
Although the “regular” bowl is bigger than a typical small bowl at other pho shops, at almost $10 (what a large bowl costs elsewhere), I think I’ll stick to my usual haunts.
Since none of us had anything else, I can’t comment on how good any of the other dishes are. But the menu is very extensive and I’m sure there’s got to be at least 1 dish that I would find appealing. But I certainly wouldn’t go out of my way to drive all the way back just to find out.
Kim’s Vietnamese & Chinese Restaurant
745 S Coast Hwy 101#J
103Encinitas, CA 92023
Postscript: One thing about pho that I’ve learned over the years is that every pho joint I’ve been to have good and off days. I’ve been to Pho Hoa Cali many times at 2 locations, having good and not-as-good meals. Same goes for Bolsa, Pho Ca Dao and a few other places. I haven’t figured out why it’s good 1 day and not another but the lesson I learned is to pick the places where I’ve had the most consistent “good” meals. And then throw in a few new places here and there. And with that not-so-mind-boggling insight, now go and eat well.