Pho An Sandy
Take a cue from one of the many multigenerational Asian families quietly slurping enormous bowls of bun bo hue topped with beef shank and cubed pork blood: This pho joint on Sandy Boulevard might look like a former burger stand from the outside, but it's the real deal. Decor within consists solely of a few hanging bundles of plastic fruit and a fish tank, but the light, almost sparkling broths loaded with noodles and proteins as diverse as pizzle (penis) and sliced tripe, plus a wealth of add-ons including fresh culantro, provide all the atmosphere you'll need.
Pho Oregon makes some of the biggest and baddest pho in Portland, with some of the most terrifically fatty broth. The restaurant, which looks like a Mexican adobe turned into a Motel 6, with inexplicable palm trees on either side, serves its specialty, dac biet—a noodle bowl heaped with round steak, flank, fatty brisket, tendon, tripe and beef meatballs and a Kinfolk-approved plate overflowing with sprigs of herb, sprout, and limes—all for $9.99.
Teo Bun Bo Hue
8220 SE Harrison St., No. 230, 503-208-3532.
You don't need a menu at Teo Bun Bo Hue. The friendly server at this tastefully appointed Vietnamese soup shop will ask you only one question: chicken or beef? There is no wrong answer. Beef (both bowls are $10.50) means bun bo Hue, and is a whirlwind of spicy, sour, sweet and especially floral. But the chicken pho is even better, a pure and rich stock stuffed with noodles and bone-in chicken, like something your grandmother would inject you with as cure for the flu.
The cult-favorite big gun of Tokyo ramen opened its first American outpost in Portland just days before this guide was published. It is a beautiful restaurant—with an extensive sake list and ambitious cocktails, sushi rolls, composed spoon "bites" and its own documentary crew filming Japan's Jiro of noodles, Hiroto Nakamura. Already the shiitake broth is ridiculously deep, the shoyu intense, and the fish-bone-broth shio so pure in its flavor and unlike other broth in town it's like being introduced to a new cuisine.
Japan-based Kizuki distills soy, miso and fish deeply in its broths. The shoyu ramen ($8), thick with greens and a flavorful slab of pork, is a great introduction to the ramen portion of the menu. From the spinach goma-ae ($4), a small mountain of steamed spinach slathered with a subtle sesame dressing will make you feel good about healthy eating and great about spending time in the wilds of unincorporated Washington County.
Ha VL/Rose VL
Ha VL, 2738 SE 82nd Ave., Suite 102, 503-772-0103.
Rose VL, 6424 SE Powell Blvd., 503-206-4344.
For years, you could never get a bowl of Ha VL's amazing Vietnamese soups after noon. But since summer 2015, everything has changed for the better. Now, every day but Sunday at Ha VL's rose-walled sister soup shop Rose VL—a sparse, brightly lit space with 1980s cityscape paintings on the walls—$9.50 will get you a choice between two different bowls of plush heaven in liquid form. Nothing is oversweetened, overspiced or oversalted here, only deep—whether subtle tom yum that puts the usual amped-up galangal bomb to shame, or a light, marrow-rich chicken noodle with bamboo shoots.