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Jan 13, 2007 10:23 PM

bun bo hue at pho tu do.

went with some old friends to pho tu do on clement street thursday night. i wanted to go to turtle tower, but my friend prefers the bean sprout/herb plate style, and we were by the beach (freezing! terrible idea...)

it was my first time there since the makeover, and i have to say i really miss the bamboo forest wallpaper. anyways i opted against pho and decided to try the bun bo hue. this is a dish that i imagine is a near perfect food when prepared well. i've tried a few versions, but i haven't gotten there yet (recommendations graciously accepted!) i have no idea of these folks are from anywhere near hue, for example.

anyways i enjoyed my meal quite a bit. i like the thicker noodles, about the thickness of spaghetti cooked past al dente (but not in a bad way). the broth had a thin sheen of bright orange chili oil, which looked spicier than it tasted. strong lemongrass flavor. thinly sliced pork and brisket, two half moons of...uh..that off-white vietnamese meat product often found in banh mi. which also tastes much better than i described it. there were also small chunks of pig's blood curd floating in it.

it used to gross me out when i would see koreans eat blood in haejang kuk, but i thought it would be foolish not to try it out this time. i like blood sausages, after all. but the texture turned me off, like extra extra firm tofu with an unpleasant but dull metallic taste.

in this unusually cold weather, this noodle soup was the perfect thing. spicy, bracing, floral. but i sense i'm missing out on the real thing in terms of depth of flavor and perhaps tradition. i'll keep looking, but this was pretty good. maybe the next time i go to the tenderloin i'll put aside my usual craving for pho and search out good bun bo hue places instead. i suppose i should do a search on this board....

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  1. I like bun bo hue, but am not that fond of the chunks of porcine blood either. Try it with some shrimp paste next time, usually you have to ask for it. Found out that the place in Newark that had the version I liked the best is out of business, so nowhere to send you.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      thanks for the shrimp paste tip. after doing some research i think i might try the version at ngoc mai this week. i'll be sure to ask. are you supposed to mix it in the soup, or use it as a dip?

      1. re: augustiner

        Some people mix it in the soup. But I don't like it to flavor everything and prefer to use it as a condiment for the meats or to add a couple chopstick points worth to random spoonfuls of the broth. I've been wondering about Ngoc Mai's version, look forward to your comments.