went with some old friends to pho tu do on clement street thursday night. i wanted to go to turtle tower, but my friend prefers the bean sprout/herb plate style, and we were by the beach (freezing! terrible idea...)
it was my first time there since the makeover, and i have to say i really miss the bamboo forest wallpaper. anyways i opted against pho and decided to try the bun bo hue. this is a dish that i imagine is a near perfect food when prepared well. i've tried a few versions, but i haven't gotten there yet (recommendations graciously accepted!) i have no idea of these folks are from anywhere near hue, for example.
anyways i enjoyed my meal quite a bit. i like the thicker noodles, about the thickness of spaghetti cooked past al dente (but not in a bad way). the broth had a thin sheen of bright orange chili oil, which looked spicier than it tasted. strong lemongrass flavor. thinly sliced pork and brisket, two half moons of...uh..that off-white vietnamese meat product often found in banh mi. which also tastes much better than i described it. there were also small chunks of pig's blood curd floating in it.
it used to gross me out when i would see koreans eat blood in haejang kuk, but i thought it would be foolish not to try it out this time. i like blood sausages, after all. but the texture turned me off, like extra extra firm tofu with an unpleasant but dull metallic taste.
in this unusually cold weather, this noodle soup was the perfect thing. spicy, bracing, floral. but i sense i'm missing out on the real thing in terms of depth of flavor and perhaps tradition. i'll keep looking, but this was pretty good. maybe the next time i go to the tenderloin i'll put aside my usual craving for pho and search out good bun bo hue places instead. i suppose i should do a search on this board....