7002 SE 82nd Ave., 771-1141.
[BLOOOOD] Bun Bo Hue isn't much
for atmosphere. Hidden at the base of Mount Scott deep in Southeast
Portland, the small restaurant is covered in graffiti, sports barred
windows and the TV is constantly turned to Vietnamese news. But
Portland's pre-eminent source of its titular dish has the power to turn
you into a soup vampire. Asked what was in Bun Bo Hue's bun bo Hue
($7.50), the waitress doesn't beat around the bush: "blood and pig
meat." The "pig meat" is unidentifiable chunks of muscle, fat and bone
sitting at the bottom of the broth. Greedily dipping for it, you'll
quickly forget that chunks of what looks like red tofu is actually
coagulated blood. With seven variations on the signature dish and a
broth that strikes the right balance between spicy and sweet, it's
unclear why bun hasn't yet replaced pho as the prime Southeast Asian
noodle dish. (Oh, right, the blood thing.) By default, Bun Bo Hue serves
iced tea instead of water, and every dish comes with a multitude of
side sauces for sprucing up already bloody flavorful soup.
Ideal Meal: Anything from the bun section of the menu with a side of egg rolls ($3.75).
Best Deal: The prices for everything are within $1 or $2 of each other, so there's really no wrong choice when it comes to value.
Pro Tip: They may be great when it comes to noodles, but the fried rice dish ($8) is a bit oily and bland. If you want rice, get the white with some meat on the side.
9 am-10 pm daily. $.