Restaurant Guide 2013: Ha & VL

2738 SE 82nd Ave., Suite 102, 772-0103.

[SOUP'S ON FOLKS] There's nothing better than a steaming bowl of noodle soup on a chilly, rainy day. Unfortunately, many Portland versions would have you believe that all Vietnamese noodle soups consist of gristly beef lying atop stiff noodles, soaking in an anemic broth that needs to be doctored with hefty doses of lime and hoisin before it's remotely edible. Not true. Ha & VL's crabflake soup made me forget there were such things as condiments. It was one of the best noodle soups I've ever had, with large, silky rice noodles, perfectly cooked quail eggs, mushrooms, shrimp and shredded pork, all suspended in a thick, flavorful pork broth. While they also serve a steady selection of decent banh mi, these magnificent soups are the real reason people drive from all over Portland to cram into this tiny, lime-green dining room plastered with clippings. They serve two daily, and most days they run out by 1 pm—noon on weekends. Picky eaters, be cautious: If you're allergic to shellfish or don't like seafood, stick to Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays (they're closed on Tuesdays). For everyone else: It's impossible to go wrong. Top off your meal with coffee and sweetened condensed milk. Like everything else here, it's one of the best I've ever had. 

Ideal meal: Sunday's special turmeric noodles, with shrimp cake, shrimp, shrimp, pork, ground pork, shrimp, ground shrimp, pork and peanuts. This special costs a dollar more than their usual daily selection and is totally worth it.

Best deal: Dude, everything is $8.

Pro tip: Cash only for tickets under $15. They open at 8 am and if you call ahead, they'll reserve an order for you to pick up. But if you forget about it and take it away from someone who actually drove there to eat it, I will personally hunt you down and sew an "I'm A Dick" patch to your forehead. It's that good.

8 am-4 pm Wednesday-Monday. $.


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