My friend picked up a take out menu a few weeks ago and then we kind of forgot about it. Then I happened to read about it on Kirbie’s Cravings (my go to San Diego food blog) and remembered! Sovereign Vietnamese Kitchen and Bar was technically not opened yet (update: it’s opened now) but the little Grab and Go Food Shop next door was opened.
Grab and Go Food Shop (and Sovereign Vietnamese Kitchen) is the creation of “Michelin-starred, James Beard ‘Tastemaker’ Michael Bao Huynh.” And the Grab and Go Food Shop is the perfect little place for a quick bite located in the Gaslamp in downtown San Diego. My friend and I decided to check out Grab and Go Food Shop on a week night for an early dinner. I would have walked right passed the place because it was surrounded by construction and the little shop was kind of discrete (look for the ‘A’ frame sign outside). Lucky for me, my friend knew where he was going.
There are a couple tables outside, four little tables inside, and a few bar seats right by the counter. It was early so the place was pretty quiet and gave me some time to figure out what I wanted to eat. I actually really liked how the menu is set up. It has the basics: Banh Mi (Vietnamese sandwiches), Pho, “From The Wok”, and Bowls. The way the bowls were presented actually attracted my interest. The menu at Vietnamese restaurants are usually pretty big, and if you look closely it’s all pretty much the same thing just in a slightly different variation. Here at Grab and Go Food Shop, they kind of presented it like places like Chipotle. You basically start out by deciding if you want vermicelli noodles, rice, or salad; then you choose what kind of meat (or tofu) you want. The topics are all the same, but I’m assuming it will be easy to customize that.
After staring at that for a long time, I ended up not getting a bowl (I guess that’ll have to wait for next time). I ordered the BBQ Beef Banh Mi for $6 and my friend ordered the Pho Tai Nam: Rare Slice Beef and Brisket Noodle Soup for $10, and we each got a little sampler of the Jalapeno Lime Lemonade.
I ended up getting the BBQ Beef Banh Mi because I remembered reading about it on Kirbies Craving’s and I remember wanting to give it a try because she said “it didn’t taste like any banh mi I’ve had before. In many ways, it actually didn’t even feel like I was eating a banh mi” which just made me curious. I ordered it with pate in it (just because I really like pate in my Banh Mi) but I couldn’t taste any of it so I’m guessing they didn’t add it in for me.
It was basically the normal BBQ pork banh mi you can get at any Vietnamese sandwich shop just with beef instead of pork. It was still a very good sandwich though.
I was willing to try the sandwich because my friend ordered the Pho Tai Nam: Rare Slice Beef and Brisket Noodle Soup which means I still get to try it. Normally when I get pho I order Pho Chin Nam which is pretty much the name thing just with cooked sliced beef instead of the rare beef. And when the pho was served the beef looked cooked already, though my friend said it wasn’t fully cooked I was just not paying attention and too busy taking pictures of my sandwich.
We were served with the perfect amount of vegetables and herbs on the side for us to add into our pho (where as you would usually just get a plate full of everything). The soup base was a good clear broth and with quite a bit of meat. What I enjoyed the most was the brisket (Nam). The Brisket was served in thickly cut pieces instead of all of the thinly sliced meat I’m used to of.
My only complaint with that was the fact that it felt like a very small bowl of pho for $10 (the sandwich felt very small too).
This place has all of the inner workings of a traditional Vietnamese restaurant with a modern twist. I’m waiting for Sovereign Vietnamese Kitchen + Bar to open so that I can check it out. I want to see what additional twists there will be. As for Grab and Go Food Shop, I’ll be back but I’ll take it home to enjoy (oh and I need to remember to get the Jalapeno Lime Lemonade).
Sovereign Vietnamese Kitchen and Bar update!
In the time it has taken me to finish this post, there seems to have been quite a bit of change to Sovereign Vietnamese Kitchen and Bar, the actual restaurant has opened next door to Grab and Go Food Shop and according to the San Diego Eater, the famous “Michelin-starred, James Beard ‘Tastemaker’ Michael Bao Huynh” has left the restaurant and is now back in Vietnam working on his next project. As for the San Diego restaurants, the sous chef has been promoted. With this bit of change, I am actually kind of looking forward to seeing what they will (or will not) change.