At about 12:30pm, this tiny spot, Phung Hoang, hidden away within the interior corridors of Eden Center was deserted. About 1:45pm, there was a gush of people coming in with some waiting to get seated. Do the VIetnamese eat lunch late?
People were there for the bun bo hue, a spicy noodle soup. Here it is served with sliced beef, what looked like some pig's foot, and a cake of blood. The broth is thin and fiery. It's been a while since I've had bun bo hue; I used to order it all the time at the old Cafe Saigon in Clarendon, where it was a thicker and more potent concoction. Here it is spicy but not complex.
Also tried out the hard-to-find bun mam, normally a soup with a fermented fish paste as its base. Here it was similar to the bun bo hue, but less fiery and with an oddly sweet tang. It has fish and shrimp with the noodles and bean sprouts. But the only way to get that funky hit was to add some anchovy paste that is on the table.
I was a bit disappointed with both soups.