Duck soup, an unsophisticated bowl of goodness
5259 Linda Vista Road, San Diego
Before I left on my Euro Odyssey 2015, I would have divided (if pressed to do so candidly) the local Thai food scene into two camps: Sab-E-Lee and Everything Else. I know. Haters gonna hate.
In all fairness, Everything Else was, and still is, pretty good in terms of virtually identical take-out food. Sab-E-Lee just stands out as the Grand Poobah of local Thai dining. Perhaps hole-in-the-wall Asia Cafe in Chollas View could rate, but that place is really Something Else and ultimately neither here nor there.
Now there is a third category to my otherwise rock-solid division of Thai food. J&T Thai Street Food makes for a sort of triangular third option between the insane spicy goodness of Sab-E-Lee and the relative banality of just about every other Thai joint. In part, this is because the place is crazy cheap. $3 chicken wings and lettuce wraps are a smoking hot deal. Same price on the tom kha or tom yum soup (both good), with $1 extra for the “expensive” meats such as shrimp. Your curries and noodle dishes are all $7.50, and all seem worth it.
But the kicker is the duck soup. $8 for a bowl of piping hot, tangy broth teeming with rice noodles and concealed hunks of roast duck. I want to say it’s heavy on the tamarind, which gives it this sweet richness that’s somehow more intriguing than the straight-up umami MSG — sorry, “autolyzed yeast extract” (or other glutamic acid euphemism) — kick we’ve come to expect from noodle soup.
This isn’t an elegant soup. Far from it. It’s a downhome, unsophisticated bowl of goodness that smashes together everything you like about pho with all your favorite things about soy sauce flavored ramen. Go get some.