Thursday, January 31, 2008

Mien Trung

Yeah, yeah, we're finally caught up. This meal is from January 30, y'all. I'll admit something... I've taken a vow of less eating out. I don't generally eat out for lunch, but we've had some fantastic meals, a lavish (and insanely busy) holiday season, and a trip 3,000 miles away. Needless to say, some budgetary evaluation needed to take place. I don't spend my money on much. It's either clothing or food and, frankly, food outweighs clothing easily.

I also took a good long look in the mirror and, well, it ain't pretty. I was moving from square-shaped to dreidel-shaped. Now I'm looking at Oompa Loompa. I'm also wasting money on a gym membership and it's really starting to hurt my wallet when it should be hurting my body. That next Pilates class is really going to burn.

With that said, more restraint was practiced in January and the posts after Dad's Birthday covered the eating out for the month. January 30 was a great eating day, with Mien Trung for lunch and Market for dinner.

Let's start with lunch... Mien Trung is the true definition of "mom-and-pop" operation. Mom's cooking in back, Dad overlooks the dining area, and the kids help out. I spotted another woman in the kitchen, but couldn't tell if she was related or not.

It's in Kearny Mesa, next to Mesa College. The specialty of the house is bun bo hue, which is spicy pork noodle soup. Fantastic stuff. I had a love/hate relationship with it growing up because of the spiciness. Mom's version is fabulous, but this one holds its own very well. I'm going to have to take Mom and Dad here the next time they visit.

El Jefe tells me that to have the real thing in Hue, Vietnam, is close to a religious experience. His expectations were high and it seems they were met, as this is our second visit and he's the one who insisted on coming here.

I had a regular bowl of bun bo hue. The broth wasn't too spicy, which fits me perfectly. I love this broth so much. The rich pork flavor and the lemongrass is a little bowl of paradise. Besides the broth, I don't prefer much else about BBH, generally. Typically, the stock meat is served with the noodles and, since the bejeezus has been boiled out of it, it's rather bland and kind of dry. It's utterly broken down, so it's soft. The noodles are thick, long, and slippery. The pho noodles are much more wieldy, so when I can, I order this dish with the pho noodles.

Anyhoo, Mien Trung's BBH has the usual meat: brisket and hock. I'll eat the meat, but there's not much to say about it. The noodles are fantastic. Perfectly cooked, they stay long and tender. Most places cook the hell out of it and it breaks into little 2-inch sections, which I can't pick up with chopsticks. I'm sure it's more of a commentary on my chopstick-wielding skills than the noodles.

In the end, the broth wins out. Throw in a big handful of cabbage/lettuce and add a squirt of lime, the richness of the broth is complimented by the freshness of the greens.

The aforementioned greens:

Jefe had bun rieu oc dac biet, which is a bowl of crab and tomato broth that serves as the base for BBH (I think). The word "oc" was translated to "snails" in the menu, but it was actually conch. Looked pretty good. I might have to try the bun rieu next time I'm there.

We had a side of banh beo, steamed rice flour patties topped with dried shrimp, dried onions, and cha lua (Vietnamese pork sausage). They sell homemade cha lua there, so I bought a log to take home. Yum. It's compressed pork wrapped in banana leaves and steamed. Gorgeous. I'll have to post again when I have some tonight.

Another lunch spot for the rotation. Can't wait to eat here again.

5 bites:

Anonymous said...

Hi Geekyfoodie!
I first found your site about a week ago through Alice Q's blog - but now you list it on ch -wonderful!
I wish I knew about it before! I've been reading some of your archive - even a Super Cocina Post! Yay..
I would love a recipe to make my own Ban Xeo - the video - to understand the technique is great! Mom's are the best.

You should come to the chowdown on Saturday at the Imperial Ave. Farmers Market at 10am. Josh, Alice Q, Jturtle, joseph and Epicurious eggplant will be there with me.
Are you on the SDChow list?

Meandering Eats said...

Hey Alex!

I'm so excited that Alice linked my blog! I'm not sure how she found it, although it could have been that phantom post to the Banh Xeo thread (the thread never updated, but the post wasn't deleted until I alerted the mods).

Anyhoo, I'll post a recipe after I see my mom next weekend (Chinese New Year... food!!!).

I'd love to join the SDChow list... wasn't sure how to do it. Do I have to open a Yahoo account?

Thank you for inviting me to the Chowdown! I'd love to come, but we'll be shopping for our Super Bowl party on Sat. morning. Next time, perhaps? For the shopping, there will be a stop at Northgate for sure, so I'll post about it.

Anonymous said...

I think all you have to do is click on the blue Join button, gf.

We'll have to decide on a next chowdown after this one - I wonder where?

Have fun shopping - you should check out that little candied fruit stand in the front. The coconut stuffed limes are really good.

For the nopales - I think the easiest way is to gut them into halved green bean sized stips and boil them until they change color - cool and mix with diced onion cilantro tomato chile and olive oil and lime. Sprinkle with cotija cheese and toasted pumpkin seeds.

You could also roast the whole paddles with some oil. Top with cheese and grilled carne asada. for a huarache azteca - an aztec sandal. Serve with slices of avocado.

My favorite salsa is a chile de arbol and grapefruit juice - the color is amazing!

Buy some chile de arbol and fry with some cloves of garlic in olive oil till slightly under charred- toss cooled into blender and add fresh squeeze grapefruit juice and salt. Really good.

Thanks for a fantastic blog!

KirkK said...

So...I managed to track you down...he-he-he. You got conch in the Bun Rieu...that's odd, we've always had Oc, they must've run out. If you enjoy Cha Lua - try out DaNang Food to Go on ECB. I liek their version.

Meandering Eats said...

Hi, Kirk! Wow, it's a little CH reunion off-site. I hope you don't mind that I've linked mmm-yoso to my links section.

I do love cha lua. It's been a while since I've had a good loaf (log? link? what's appropriate?) to munch on. I'll have to check out DaNang.

5 bites