My honey and I were a little intimidated by the huge milling throng of people spilling out the doors of Yum Cha Cafe this morning, so we decided a change in our plans was in order. After failing yet again to talk her into banh mi, we wandered into the closest available hole in the wall which was Soon Peace BBQ on Ord between Broadway and Hill.
Although one entire wall was fenced off by a steam table covered in braised miscellaneous, I was encouraged by the sight of what seems to be the standard BBQ display case sitting in the back. I ordered (via the point-and-smile method) a bowl of noodles with BBQ pork, bok choy and broth, and a braised tofu dish that had the right texture for my honey's post-dental-surgery jaw.
The tofu was kind of generic (but the roast pork it was mixed with was pretty good), and the noodles (rice noodles) a little overdone and apt to break free from the chopsticks and splash back into the bowl. But the BBQ pork slices were quite tasty, and the broth they were floating in was liquid heaven. I've had broth at pho joints all over the city (some of it good, much of it mediocre) but this stuff was on par with the best of them. When I go back, I'll probably order my meat with rice instead of noodles, but only if they'll let me have a bowl of that broth on the side.
The food at Soon Peace is probably not all that remarkable, as Chinatown BBQ restaurants go -- I'm sure you could get as good or better at Sam Woo or somewhere. But the prices are low enough to qualify the place for a high rating in the "best bang-for-your-buck" category. A huge plate of stir-fried whatever, rice included, will run you $3, while my bowl of BBQ and noodles and that fantastic broth was only $2.50. There were several kinds of roasted fowl available priced somewhere around $7 per half, and a meat that I think was roast pork was labeled at $6.50 a pound.