Thanks to Charlie_b's description of the #26 crab vermicelli soup at Lily's, I twice chose it over my regular and very destination worthy bun bo hue. And I just want to report back that it is, as described, amazing. I found the ground meat to be extremely crabby, with a pepper bite, and once I stirred a bunch of chili flakes/oil into that dreamy broth, it was the best bowl of soup I have had in a long, long time. Light yet complex broth - flavor and texture carnival.
With two down, I can't wait to get back and work my way through the soups - but there were more discoveries this day! My son wanted the banana-leaf wrapped sticky rice pyramid offered on the cart near the register, and it was insanely delicious, and as he in his 5 year old wisdom noted - "this is like an asian tamale!" And so it was.
A friend wanted a sandwich, but when we were ordering, they said the bread wasn't ready yet. As we were paying and leaving, they wheeled out a load of fresh baked baguettes - fragrant, lovely....I bought one, and found it - past the crust - limp, flavorless and not worth finishing. This may be the fundamental reason their bahn mi don't get raves on this board. Fresh out of the oven, enticing, and really - not good.
But the soup.......the soup......