On the Menu: OB Noodle House and OB Noodle House Bar 1502
When lines longer than a chow fun noodle started snaking around the corner of the Asian restaurant at 2218 Cable St. in Ocean Beach, the Yeng brothers knew it was time to scope out a second location — and perhaps even a third — to keep their loyal customers well-fed, entertained and happy.
Kyle “Dak” Yeng, eldest of the trio of restaurateurs (his brothers are Steve and Scott), reminisces about his family’s treacherous journey from Cambodia to California, with a pit stop in a refugee camp in Thailand, where they sought asylum for five years before immigrating to America.
They settled in Ocean Beach in their aunt’s one-car garage. Food was the cornerstone that solidified their family during those tough times, and it became the focus of their future. Though Yeng graduated with a biochemistry degree at UC San Diego, it was his love of good food and home cooking that steered him from the chemistry lab to the kitchen.
Get Point Loma-OB Monthly in your inbox every month
News and features about Point Loma and Ocean Beach every month for free
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Point Loma-OB Monthly.
At a young age, he marveled at his mother’s culinary skills that ignited his passion for gustatory pursuits. That started in spring 2008 when a Vietnamese fusion restaurant in Ocean Beach’s then-notorious “war zone” closed, and the brothers decided to take the plunge.
“I never even took a cooking class, nor had any restaurant experience, was young and stupid and wasn’t afraid of what I didn’t know,” Yeng said.
Then on the third day after opening, the chef didn’t show, and the young restaurant owner taught himself to cook through grit and baptismal fire, whipping up secret family recipes using his mother as his muse.
OB Noodle House & Sake Bar, which Yeng calls “the original location,” blends flavors from Vietnam, China, Korea and Cambodia amid “dive bar decor” two blocks from Dog Beach.
With pop-culture murals of Asian warriors dressing the rustic walls, strings of purple neon lights draped throughout the joint, and black lacquer tables blending with the distressed slate-hued wooden floors and dim lighting, this could be a scene from an old-timey espionage flick with James Bond and Jackie Chan huddling in a mysterious haunt in Saigon over a steaming bowl of pho and a side order of intrigue.
The intimate spot buzzes with crowds of locals, tourists and San Diegans of all ages. Popular delights include the wagyu Korean-style short ribs, sizzling basa fish (freshwater catfish) topped with caramelized ginger, scallions, garlic and cilantro, a variety of traditional beef-based pho soups, crispy garlic wings, house-special fried rice with Chinese broccoli, homemade sausage, shrimp, beef and a chili sate sauce, along with more amalgams of noodle dishes than fish in the Yangtze River.
There are crispy egg noodles (both dry and saucy wet versions), vermicelli and chow fun rice noodles (also dry and wet), topped with choices of tofu, vegetables, beef, pork, chicken, Baja shrimp and calamari.
Guy Fieri walked in with his camera crew to shoot a segment for his popular Food Network show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” featuring Yeng’s Noodle House. Soon after the show aired, customers flooded in, spilling down the block with three-hour waits.
To solve this wonderful problem, the brothers opened location No. 2 called OB Noodle House Bar 1502 (numeric code for OB), a much larger space at 4993 Niagara Ave., just a stone’s throw from the pier.
Bar 1502 serves the same fare as the original location but offers a more varied drink menu, a spacious dog-friendly patio and an eye-popping concrete tree as the focal point of the bar-restaurant. At this venue the brothers created the popular Skrewball peanut butter whiskey during a “Barmageddon” reality competition on truTV, launching another successful venture for the family biz.
Next stop is 5046 Newport Ave. and the Yengs’ third child, named The Holding Co., a music venue with bands performing six nights a week, plus rooftop ocean views and brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday.
Offerings include chicken and waffles with Skrewball whiskey peanut sauce, surf-and-turf house Benedict with crab and brisket, birria ramen noodles and kimchi bacon fried rice, accompanied by brunch mimosa specials.
Yeng’s credo is to give back to the community where he grew up and still resides. He has recruited a huge staff of close to 300, primarily OB denizens, while he supports local purveyors.
Yeng also covets his family’s secret recipes, like the sauces and seasonings that are a precious part of his heritage.
OB Noodle House & Sake Bar
Where: 2218 Cable St., Ocean Beach
Hours: Noon to 10 p.m. daily
Information: facebook.com/OBNoodleHouse, (619) 450-6868
OB Noodle House Bar 1502
Where: 4993 Niagara Ave., Ocean Beach
Hours: Noon to 10 p.m. daily
Information: facebook.com/bar1502, (619) 255-9858
• 1½ ounces Skrewball peanut butter whiskey
• ½-ounce coconut rum
• 1 ounce fresh orange juice
• 2 ounces pineapple juice
• 1 ounce cream of coconut
• Shake all ingredients with crushed ice.
• Pour into a cocktail glass.
• Garnish with powdered nutmeg and two pineapple leaves.
Courtesy of Kyle Yeng