Bun Bo Hue An Nam (San Jose)
Before you ask, no I didn’t get it with the “buffalo mix”. I was too chicken. Sorry!
So...there are basically 3 things on the menu at Bun Bo Hue An Nam.
1. Bun Bo Hue (spicy beef noodle soup), $6.95 for small, $7.50 for large
2. Bun Bo Hue with “Ngau Pin” (which turns out is actually bull’s uh, you know, appendage, not buffalo)
3. Pho with your choice of meats, $5-$7 depending on size and what meat(s) you get
I was really tagging along with a viet co-worker who took me and 3 others to this place, his fave spot for BBH. We all got the #1. You can request less spicy or spicy, and spicy had chile flakes & more of the red chili oil. Less spicy tasted quite mild, spicy packed a good (not huge) amount of heat. You can also order extra meat for $1, or extra veggies for $1 (which I did but they forgot it).
Photo below is after I added my veggies & shredded my mint over it. I should’ve arranged the abundance of various meats on top, sorry I didn’t stage my food better. My bowl had 2 med-small cubes of pork blood, many thin slices of beef shank (not as tender as I hoped), 2 or 3 pieces of surprisingly flavorful (bit sweet) viet “bologna” which from the color & taste seemed like chicken bologna, not the usual pork bologna, 2 thin slices of pork with a nice layer of fat under the skin, and 3 or 4 big hunks of beef tendon (these were the chunky chewy long sections, like my mom likes, not the unctuous gelatinous rounds like I like).
The plate of veggies was mostly sprouts & cabbage, with a small amount of shredded banana blossom. No curls of rau muong (water spinach). Plus mint and 2 wedges of lime.
Broth is very flavorful, tasting more of beef than of spice (which I like), but the lemongrass & other spices are definitely there, as is the chile heat. The sheen of fat is like in a good ramen – silky on the lips but not very visible in the bowl. Only weakness is that it’s on the salty side (but I’m not a salt fan). Even after squeezing my 2 lime wedges it was salty and I downed glasses of water at work afterwards. I was really wishing for the extra veggies because I fished out most of my noodles (I was low-carbing it). Noodles were perfectly bouncy/chewy.
All in all a very good rendition, better than Bun Bo Hue #1 on Senter Road.
Nathan's mention of Bun Bo Hue An Nam, with link to Wes At Eat's review:
Bun Bo Hue An Nam
740 Story Road, San Jose
(don't bother with phone #, they never answer & only speak vietnamese
)Parking in that strip mall is NEVER anything but completely packed. If you get there before 11:45 you can park in the residential area on the cross street, Roberts Ave.
Oh, it was already full inside at 11:50 AM, with a 10 minute wait. By noon it looked like the line outside quadrupled.
Thanks for the history on BBH An Nam, I thought it was a sister restaurant of Pho An Nam. It's interesting that their BBH ended up getting more customers than their pho, because I think their Pho Ga is more special than their BBH (we had a Chowdown there some years ago). I'm not a big fan of BBH in general, because of the salty heavy taste (just like I'm not a big fan of ramen), but once in a while it makes a good meal and at BBH An Nam with the variety & abundance of toppings and flavorful broth I can see why it's popular.
Sometime ago (late last year or early this year) I went to look for BBH Dong Ba on Tully, and never found it. I walked up & down the storefronts in the 1100 block of Tully Road and didn't see anything that could be it. There was one storefront that looked like a closed down restaurant with papered windows, so maybe BBH Dong Ba has closed.
Without a doubt it is the most popular Vietnamese Bun Bo Hue in the South Bay. I personally dislike this dish quite passionately. The reason you drank lots of water afterwards is most likely due to the loads of MSG.
The restaurant is actually an offshoot from Pho An Nam, down the end of the building at the inside corner. The family started out as pho restaurant, with specialty in Chicken pho; with 1 offering of Bun Bo Hue as a line item in the menu. It was so poplular they opened a dedicated restaurant for it, which ended up getting even more customers than the original pho place.
Thanks for the report and photo, Alice! The BBH looks mighty fine! Broth looks like it has good complexity, but sometimes it's hard to judge by looks for this broth so I'm glad to have your impressions. Bean sprouts look nice and fresh.
How would you compare this version to Quang Da's, if you can remember? I'm thinking that QD's may not be as rich and have more subtlety in flavor? May not be a fair comparison since a group of us shared the bowl at QD, but just curious...