No. 15: Bun Bo Hue at Thanh Da
The bun bo Hue at Thanh Da presents a dark tempest of a beef broth.
Let's enumerate the ways bun bo Hue -- named after the city of Hue (pronounced "Way") in Central Vietnam -- differs from the signature noodle soup of Saigon, pho (pronounced "FFFah"). First off, the noodles are wheat instead of rice.
Second, rather than including a catalog of sometimes odd beef cuts, bun bo features beef shin.Third, the broth is less complex, darker, and more beefy tasting. Fourth, that broth is laced with chile oil, and though you are invited to zap your pho with sriracha (pronounced "see-racha," the first "r" is silent), in bun it's an objective of the soup maker to make it hot from the get-go.
A tree of Asian basil graces the top of the soup, and, maybe because of the spiciness, the bowl seems more filling than pho, which always seems kind of light to me. The bowl pictured above comes from Thanh Da in Sunset Park's Chinatown. There's another branch of the cafe just off Eighth Avenue, but it's really just a carryout grocery. The Eighth Avenue place offers a few tables, and is a perpetual candidate for best Vietnamese restaurant in the city. The cafe is hilariously fast and east to get to on the N train. Give it a try!
Thanh Da 6008 Seventh Avenue Sunset Park, Brooklyn 718-492-3253
100 Days/100 Dishes is an almost-random alphabetical collection of delicious dishes from around the five boroughs. See the entire series so far.
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