Translating to “hello” in Vietnamese, Xin Chao is greeting its new neighbors in North County, where the restaurant recently opened at Del Mar Highlands Town Center as part of an ongoing influx of new food and drink options that includes the Sky Deck and the incoming Omomo Tea. As one of the few Vietnamese establishments in the area, co-owners Joyce and Justin Nguyen, who signed their lease three years ago before the start of pandemic, tell Eater that they want to specialize in a small menu of popular favorites, including pho, so they can focus on making each dish excellent.
Xin Chao Eatery’s House Special Pho consists of a tender, fall-off-the-bone back rib with a good portion of filet mignon, meatballs, and brisket plus wide or thin rice noodles in a fragrant, long-simmered pho broth; optional add-ons include bone marrow and extra meat. There’s also the TNG, or Tai Nam Gau, which contains rare steak, flank, and fatty brisket, an oxtail pho, and variations of the noodle soup made with shrimp, chicken, and tofu.
Other dishes range from shrimp summer rolls packed with vermicelli, shrimp, carrots, and lettuce to fish sauce-glazed chicken wings, crispy tofu fried rice, and a selection of banh mi, or Vietnamese sandwiches, which come with a side of bone broth and shrimp chips.
Xin Chao Eatery sold out of its pho broth during its first Friday dinner service, forcing the restaurant to shutter for the rest of the weekend. The kitchen spends 10 to 12 hours making the aromatic, complex soup base.
“I feed my customers like I would feed my family,” Ms. Nguyen told Eater. “I use fresh ingredients. We don’t microwave or defrost anything.” This is the first restaurant that the couple has opened together, though Ms. Nguyen comes from a family of local restauranteurs.
Ms. Nguyen tells Eater that she dreams of opening a business enterprise where she can “help other individuals achieve their own dreams.” She wants to mentor budding entrepreneurs, sharing her experience with business plans, investment, staffing, training, and other logistical matters that go into launching a restaurant.