Many of Portland's finest chefs, like Andy Ricker of Pok Pok/Whiskey Soda Lounge and John Gorham of Toro Bravo/Tasty n Sons, told us that one of their favorite spots to grab breakfast is a Vietnamese restaurant called Ha VL, purveyor of labor-intensive homemade noodle soups. So we listened up and went to eat a bowl of 8 a.m. noodles.
The restaurant is in a little shopping center on 82nd near Division, and makes two types of soups a day, usually sold out by noon. The soups vary; on the day we were there, the choices were pho ga and Phnom Penh noodles. Inside, the place is lime green, a little steamy, and very colorful, with lots of fake flowers, a fish tank, and photos. The owners are hospitable, friendly, and proud of their work, as well they should be. We went for the pho ga, chicken noodle soup, which had a clear broth with a thin layer of rich yellow chicken fat on top, bits of white and dark meat, nicely cooked noodles, and some fresh herbs. A little spoonful of the toasted chiles with oil on the table made it perfect. Noodles for breakfast is the way to do it: Portland's breakfast of champion (chefs).
2738 SE 82nd Avenue #102, Portland