Beyond Seattle: Bun Bo Hue at HA & VL

ha_vl_500It’s been a couple of weeks since I promised to write about HA & VL in Portland. I just returned from a long loop of travel, criss-crossing the Columbia River many times in going back to Portland and then on to the Yakima Valley, Quincy, Wenatchee, and Leavenworth before returning to Seattle. I had an ambitious eating itinerary, especially in Portland, and had intended to go back for a second visit to HA & VL, but that was the one place that sadly missed the cut as I needed to save some stomach space.

More on my many Portland meals in an upcoming post. For now, I can simply report that I enjoyed my bun bo hue at HA & VL (pictured above). I’m a big fan of beef noodle soup, and the Vietnamese version is one of my favorites in the realm that country’s cuisine. One of the workers told me “our soups are home-style, not restaurant-style.” The bun bo hue was clean-tasting and fresh, with the advertised tenderloin beef and pork balls, but I was missing the pork blood cubes and beef or pig knuckle that I’m accustomed to seeing in the soup.  The lemongrass level was good, and I was able to spice up the soup with the accompanying pepper sauce and paste, both of which I used generously. The “salad” of mints, Thai basil, shredded cabbage, bean sprouts and lime also help doctor up the soup.

ha_vl_soup_menuWhat I find most remarkable about HA & VL is that they offer up different soups each day of the week – and two on each weekend day. (Hence my disappointment in not returning on the recent trip, as Akiko and I were slated to go on a Sunday, with a chance to try two different soups.) I was told that the restaurant is especially popular with Portland-area chefs, so there are many familiar faces there, especially on Sunday mornings. I can see why. The workers are friendly and take pride in what they serve. (In addition to soup, you can find Vietnamese sandwiches, smoothies, coffee and bubble tea.)

ha_vl_interior_500While some might find the fake flowers and brightly colored chairs and walls a bit over-the-top, HA & VL is full of positive spirit – and soups worth waking up for if you have the stomach space. I will allocate such space next time, for sure.

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Ha & VL Sandwich and Soup on Urbanspoon

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