Saturday, August 16, 2008

Oh Me, 'Pho Mai'! Vietnamese Food that's Sure to Please

A lot of people talk about how Temecula is just teeming with "big box" retailers and restaurants, usually in a way that let's you know that they much prefer the hole-in-the-wall / mom-and-pop / living-the-american-dream type place....the kind of place, they imply, you're not gonna find in Temecula. Um, have you ever been to Temecula? I mean, yes, you can go to Chili's or Tony Roma's or Outback if you want, but there is also no shortage of tiny, poorly decorated,

totally delicious, absolutely wonderful hole-in-the-wall joints. Joints owned and operated by people who grew up cooking and eating that kind of food, who have no experience with tasteful interior design, and who are so thankful to get up every morning in a place that lets them have their own place. Places without a corporate training crew but with food you crave on a lazy Saturday afternoon and a strange obsession with instrumental versions of Tom Jones songs.

Today's delicious excursion was to Pho Mai Vietnamese Restaurant. Located conveniently, and quite unglamorously, in the K-mart shopping center on Ynez Rd, you'll find no pretense or ceremonious service rituals (i.e. writing of the servers name on your paper table cloth; leading you to your table; smiling...). What you will find are the strange nautical-inspired booths (shown above) a mildly disconcerting interest in preserved butterflies,
and incredible, amazing, delicious, awesome, and cheap Vietnamese food. As the name implies, you'll have your choice of Phos (yes, with menu descriptions that go something like this: tendon tripe brisket tendon with noodle and tendon tripe. Pictured below is #15. I don't pretend to know what's actually in it. Really, I don't), which is why the hubby and I go,but you'll also get a lot "Mai" (haha! get it? instead of "more"? sorry....). Like these mouth-watering spring rolls (#04) , filled with, in addition to all the usual spring-roll ingredients, barbecue pork and an actual small eggroll. You will absolutely drool when you taste that peanut sauce! And for the kids in your life, because I know you've probably got 'em and I'm guessing their not so into tendon-tripe-jalapeno-brisket-tripe soup, there's a whole bunch of great stuff to choose from, like this Vietnamese version of fried rice (#54) that had generous amounts of shrimp and sausage throughout. Or this plate (#49?) that came with half a barbecued chicken, rice, and salad. Yum!

Now this part might not be as important to all of you as it is to me, but I have a child who is's call it 'sensitive', to gross bathrooms. Gross bathrooms and no-name restaurants tend to go hand-in-hand. Not at Pho Mai, my friends!

And although the decor falls squarely on the tacky side of fancy, it was clean, and updated, and as close to SoCal chic as I've ever found in a restaurant of this variety.I must confess, I'm a little embarassed to end a post with a photo of a I'll close with a shot of the generically generic shopping center window of the best not-at-all generic Pho restaurant this side of the international date line.

Pho Mai Vietnamese Gourmet

26487 Ynez Rd

Temecula, CA 92591

(951) 296-1880

Monday thru Saturday: 10 am - 8:30 pm

Sunday: CLOSED


Erica said...

LOVE it. hilarious. Can't wait to try the pho.

Anonymous said...

Ooo, I LOVE Pho Mai! They have a noodle plate I usually get that is delicious!

dwija said...

Yum! I forgot to mention that they offer a "fresh-squeezed lemon soda drink" that I was expecting to be either lemondade or sprite, but it was neither, and the kids loved it and it was served in old-fashioned float glasses (for that extra touch of tacky glamour ;) ). The grown ups had a hard time keeping their hands off!