The visits to Cam Ky BBQ a few times these past weekends were sort of a rediscovery. As most Vietnamese/Chinese restaurants in these parts, I'm fairly sure my first visit to Cam Ky was inspired by reading one of Kirk's posts (back in 2007). I had an overall good experience back then but I somehow never made it back.
I was in the mood for a plate of duck with rice, or maybe even Roast Duck Noodle Soup. So randomly decided for a revisit. Re-familiarizing myself with their menu I found a dish simply called Egg Noodle Soup w/ Duck Leg (Mi Vit Tiem). At $7, was a dollar-fifty more than the regular RDNS .
Man I really enjoyed this. I was bracing myself for a very light broth as usual but it was instead very dark and quite flavorful. I felt maybe predominantly a mushroom based stock but a total guess where maybe the yummy whole shiitake skewed my taste buds. In either case the sprinkled bits of crunchy fried garlic and shallots were quite nice and the duck leg was large and had a nice flavor (though not of five-spice but something else). I know Cam Ky has at least two different styles of duck and I asked if this was the Pha Lau version but the lady said it wasn't. Whatever, it was tasty.
Noodles were the crinkly very thin Mi egg noodles similar to what Tan Ky Mi Gia uses. I admit this style took me a bit getting used to where in fact I didn't care for it much in the beginning, but I now strangely find myself in the mood for it time to time.
A little of the house hot oil made the bowl even better, adding some extra umami rich heat and sodium.
As far as I know it's an original concoction. Nice spicy flavors with a little sour plummy-ness.
I also ordered the fried Chinese Turnip Cake with Eggs appetizer ($3.95). I had one similar at The Noble Chef off Balboa a while back but I somehow enjoyed this version more, I'm not sure why. Maybe it had more eggs?
The egg wrapped soft turnip carbo-cakes are very good by itself with a sprinkle of salt or with the accompanied sweet dark vinegar sauce.
The sweet pickled (green) papaya was really great too, the texture being a cross between a Granny Smith apple and a turnip maybe.
The newer black marble printed tables were a bit of a distraction for me personally but it at least seemed to have a nice patina that matched the rest of the cozy interior of the place.
Ice Cream Truck!! Sorry couldn't resist the photo op.
Quickly, my first meal at CKBBQ (July 2008). I had the Two-Item Plate, then $5.50, now a quarter more.
The room temperature roast pork took some getting used to personally. The skin was a nice crackly hard senbei in texture but the thicker layer of fat between it and the meat was a bit chewy. I remember the duck being on the lean side and low on five-spice flavor but well rendered and not gummy like some, so I'd say pretty fine.
The accompanied small bowl of soup had an impressive amount of pork pieces.
Unfortunately low on flavor but it was free with the meal so hard to complain.
And a little S&P did remedy most of that and the pork meats that was in it was very tender.
Recently had a plate of just the roast duck. I think it was $5.
Except for the areas around the drumstick it was fairly lean but really liked again how the fat is well rendered and I especially loved the crackly skin. Like I couldn't remember the last I had Chinese roast duck (aside from Peking Duck) that the skin was actually crispy.(?)
Seems Cam Ky's is done low in five-spice flavor but the lightly sweet orange dipping sauce was great with.
There are now a few more mainstream offerings like Salt & Pepper Chicken Wings, Kung Pao Chicken, Broccoli Beef, I'm guessing for those few patrons who unsuspectingly walks in? All $5.99 with a bowl of rice.
Of course I had to try the Mapo Tofu, haha. But I'm saving that for another report on my Diverse Interpretations of Mapo Tofu Findings.. ;)
The stuff in the case always look so tempting... So I thought I'd give the Three-Item plate a shot. Soy Sauce Chicken, roast pork and roast duck. That's a lot of food for $6.75.. :)
The pork was much leaner this time and I enjoyed it more. The duck was ok, didn't have the wonderful crispy skin as my last but it was a nice leaner and moist which I liked. Of the three I think I enjoyed the Soy Sauce Chicken the most. Again on the lean side but had the most flavor.
This day the pork piece in the complementary soup was Gianormous! The meats literally fell off the bone and was melty tender. Too bad the soup was again under seasoned and bland but again with a good shake of S&P not too hard to remedy.
I really look forward in trying out more of their different dishes. And while navigating through the menu can be a little hard for me, the prices are definitely right that I feel I can do so without much stress. With the casual homey atmosphere that I enjoy here, who knows, I just may be back for some basic fried rice and egg rolls. ;)
Cam Ky Chinese BBQ, 4141 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92105