Jeff Smith 2 p.m., Dec. 18
Lunch on Convoy: Viet Bakery and Pho
I finally got around to visiting Viet Bakery and Pho, a newish place on Convoy Street in Kearny Mesa. I’ve been driving by it since April, but just didn’t have the right combination of time and hunger to stop in.
I like the soft greens and jewel-like glass tiles, but the look of the dining room is so spare that it feels unfinished.
The bakery part of Viet Bakery is just four simple shelves of packaged desserts, but my visit was during the week, according to the menu, the selection on weekends is better.
There’s no Banh Mi on the savory menu, which in itself is different for this part of town. Several appetizers, pho, Banh Cuon, steamed rice rolls, and Com, rice dishes. As with the desserts, there are weekend additions, most of them vermicelli noodle/tomato soup/seafood based. Nothing on the menu exceeds $7.50.
I went with a standard order of Goi Cuon, Spring Rolls, for $2.99, and one of Banh It Tran, three to an order for just $2.99.
The spring roll was above average, nicely cooked shrimp, good ratio of lettuce, noodles, and herbs, but those long stalks of scallion really got in the way. They were impossible to bite through and would have been too pungent even if they had been. They were easy enough to pull out, and I didn’t miss them. Peanut sauce was okay; I did like the big sprinkling of coarsely chopped roasted peanuts on top.
The Banh It was decent; the sticky rice flour outside was just a bit thick. I would have loved more of the ground dried shrimp and crispy shallot topping. Inside, diced shrimp and pork, with a bit of yellow mung bean, needed the flavor boost from a small bowl of nuoc mam cham on the side.
Viet Bakery and Pho is open daily from 8:00 am until 9:00 pm.
Viet Bakery and Pho
3904 Convoy St. (between Ostrow St & Othello Ave)
San Diego, CA 92111