7002 SE 82nd Ave., 771-1141. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.
Even as the glory of pho spreads across suburbia, there's still something of the underground sensibility lingering about bun bo Hue—an adrenalized variant of Vietnamese bone broth originating in the former imperial capital. Hidden behind barred windows amid a sketchy stretch of 82nd Avenue's deep south, our own local bun bo temple doesn't exactly lure foot traffic, and, for an establishment named after its signature dish, placing orders isn't always so easy.
Though the daunting menu surely contains manifold delights, best stick with an appetizer like the spongy, peppery shredded pork rolls ($3.25) and focus on the large bowl of bun bo Hue with fresh beef ($11.50). You will not flinch when the softly diffident server, less Soup Nazi than soup administrator, asks if you want blood in your soup—and, as with the accompanying fish cakes and pigs trotters, you can decide for yourself whether the congealed cubes are best left submerged. You will devour the thick vermicelli, you will sup every last drop of the lemongrass-fueled bouquet, and you will envy dearly the regulars who order their soup from across the room, with a silent gesture indicating portion size.