After discovering Bun Mam at Bun Mam Soc Trang in Oakland, I have been on a warpath for this funky soup. I tried it at two places in SF. Ngoc Mai and Mong Thu Cafe both in the Tenderloin.
I love Ngoc Mai but their Bun Mam was the weakest so far. Too sweet. Mong Thu was pretty funky, and the broth had a lot of pieces floating in it. I'll give it another try. The strangest version at a strange little place.
Then I went to San Jose. Holy crap was the Bun Mam good at Bun Mam Ha Tien. This area of San Jose has upwards 50 Vietnamese restaurants. But now I can't imagine trying any of them. This was by far the greatest soup I've ever had. Less sweet than all other renditions, except their bbq pork which was like pig candy. I really don't know what else to say. Great shrimp, great squid, great fish, greatest bbq pork, greatest broth, fine noodles. Good fresh veggies (banana blossom included).
Oakland is a lot closer, so I'll still go to Soc Trang... also the woman who runs the place is one of the nicest restaurant folk I've ever met. And they have my fresh pennywort I love.... but It's now worth the hour drive to San Jose for 1 bowl of soup.
Despite the lack of yelp reviews (one being me) Ha Tien obviously has a following as they had a steady stream of customers at an off time on the Sunday I went.
Bun Mam Ha Tien: 3005 Silver Creek Rd, San Jose.
Bun Mam Soc Trang article: