After work today I had some errands to run, and got hungry afterwards. So I headed down to Glen Burnie to find some quick and cheap grub. I know there's a lot of it to be found off of Ritchie Hwy. But as I was driving around, with this very blog post in mind, I tried to find non-chains. And you know what? There are so many chain restaurants along Ritchie Hwy! Apart from a few sorry lookin' Chinese all-you-can-eats, some cheerful, toxic-colored diners and a Cluck-U-Chicken (another chain - God, that sounds rude, I don't know why), I had a difficult time finding a place to nosh this afternoon.
I had considered going back to a really great Korean place my sister and I stumbled upon a month ago. I never got to write about Goong Jeon Restaurant (map), which is a shame because they have a tasty spread and a beautiful restaurant. The two of us easily over-ordered, and we left with stomach-aches. No dessert for us! A heaping plate of sweet and sour chicken, plus bulgogi, kimchi, spring rolls, Korean dumplings, sushi (so many Korean restaurants also offer Chinese and Japanese food), lots of sides (the banchan of which kimchi is only one prominent player). We spent $70 between us, including for the $32 dinner for two, which we found out by the end of the meal was plenty filling for both of us!
Goong Jeon had good food. But I wasn't looking for a sit-down restaurant. I wanted something I could take home. But I parked in the Food Lion parking lot across from Goong Jeon, just in case I changed my mind.
Walking around the shopping center - less a strip mall and more an open air mall - I saw a few places: chains, pizza and one closed-down place. Then my nose caught a somewhat familiar smell that I couldn't quite place - vaguely Southeast Asian. I followed the smell to Pho Miss Saigon (map)- A-ha! I was right! This big Vietnamese place was far from a hole-in-the-wall, even though it had only a few people in it (too early for dinner). The decor is friendly, almost sandwich shoppish in nature, with lunch specials written in multi-colored chalky curly letters.
And it is a cheap eats kind of place. For $10.49 I got the following:
- goi cuon, the overstuffed summer rolls with peanut sauce on the side. Most of the stuffing was rice vermicelli, but each piece (two rolls each cut in half) had a big half of shrimp and a thin slab of pork. Cold, not at all crunchy (though they sell the crunchy kind, too), thick. And the peanut sauce was really good, too.
- pho dac biet, their pho house special. It is so called because it has a little bit of every meat they put in their pho. It was the reason I ultimately decided to take a seat instead of lugging all that hot soup home. The last time I did that I spilled pho all over the floor of my car, and I had no desire to clean pho out of my rental car too. This pho really did have many different meats: meatball, flank steak, round steak, tripe, tendon. I am not a fan of tripe, and after this pho - well, I'm still no fan of tripe. But the other meats were good. And some of that meat, as is the nature of meats in pho soup, was raw when it went in the soup, but cooked during its time in the broth - thin enough to cook that fast, in a broth hot enough to cook it. My one big complaint is with the vermicelli, which by that time had all massed together into one large lump of noodles. But with my chopsticks, I was able to loosen it up in a minute or two. Also tasty were the bean sprouts, basil, lime and jalapeño slices (seedless and deveined, mind you, but still hot) on the side.
Places I visited:
Goong Jeon (Korean) - 202 N. Crain Hwy, Glen Burnie, MD 21061; Phone: (410) 768-9788
- Would I eat there again? Sure
- Would I go out of my way to eat there again? Sure
- Would I eat there again? Sure
- Would I go out of my way to eat there again? Sure, it's the closest pho to me anyway