Wednesday, January 12, 2011
The area around the Othello Light Rail station is jam-packed with restaurants - from Mexican to Cajun, Chinese to Southern, Thai to African. But more than anything, there are Vietnamese restaurants. I count about a half-dozen in a two block radius. But reportedly the best is Hoang Lan.
Not much to look at, it's your typical acoustic tile ceiling, formica tables kinda place, with a TV in the corner playing Vietnamese shows, and a clientele of exclusively Vietnamese folks. In fact, a fair number of the people eating tonight appeared to be family of the owners, as they all sat together to eat.
What's not typical at Hoang Lan is the soup. I'd read some reviews that claimed it serves possibly the best Pho in Seattle - a title it vies for with Pho Bac III. But I was there for something slightly different: Bún bò Huế.
Similar to Pho in many regards, Bún bò Huế is like its cousin from the wrong side of the tracks. Like Pho, it's a beef broth with vermicelli noodles (thicker here than at other Pho places). And it's served topped with onion and cilantro, with a plate of lemon wedges, shredded lettuce, bean sprouts, basil, jalapenos, and some sort of shredded vegetable we couldn't identify. But unlike the tamer Pho variations, Bún bò Huế has pork hock, pork blood cake, and delicious little beef tendon meatballs swimming in the broth, along with strips of beef. It's like a big bowl of offal, and it's really, really good. I can definitely see now why the words Bún bò Huế are bigger on the sign out front than Hoang Lan.
Dan stuck with the more familiar Pho Ga (chicken soup), which he said was equally great.