Hu Tieu Nam Vang at Kim Loi in San Jose
Random bites from Kim Loi, located next to Lion on Tully Road, have turned up little to recommend.
But when everything else nearby was locking the doors and I needed a bite, the banner promoting hu tieu nam vang as a specialty drew me in again. A few years ago I’d been pretty obsessed with the Vietnamese version of Cambodian noodle soup and tried more than a dozen versions. Then I figured out that I didn’t really like it that much, nor the many poor examples I came across and abandoned the hunt. But perhaps it had been long enough since the last bite, as seeing those words again made my heart beat a little faster and I bit.
This turned out to be an about average version, not the best nor the worst. And for once, something at least decent here. Use of fresh rice noodles gave this a leg up. The broth was mild, tasting more chicken-y than porcine, but with a minimum of MSG.
Proteins included pork liver, pork heart, slices of pork leg, and one lonely but good quality shrimp floating on top. But oddly, no ground pork, one of the defining ingredients of hu tieu nam vang.
Long-boiled pork neck bones were served on the side. Instead of stronger Chinese celery, the usual garden variety, and scallions instead of Chinese chives.
All in all, not textbook hu tieu nam vang, but a pleasant enough bowl of noodles in a pinch. No prices were posted for this dish, and at the cashier, my tab of close to $9 was more of a money pinch than I felt it was worth.