For years, you could never get a bowl of Christina Luu and William Vuong's amazing Vietnamese soup at 82nd Avenue's Ha VL after noon—and if it wasn't gone by 11 am on a Saturday, you were lucky. But since this summer, everything has changed for the better. Now every day but Sunday at their rose-walled soup shop Rose VL—a sparse, bright-lit space with little 1980s cityscape paintings on the walls—$9.50 will get you a choice between two different bowls of plush heaven in liquid form. A subtle tom yum on Monday puts the usual amped-up galangal bomb to shame, while a light Wednesday chicken noodle with bamboo shoots is rich with marrow and undercut by the slightest hint of earthy herb and ginger. Nothing is oversweetened, overspiced or oversalted. The fishcake's a little wharfy for my taste, it's true. But that's the best thing about the VLs: The Western palate isn't even in consideration.
Pro tip: Here's your soup schedule: shrimpcake (or tom yum) Monday, fish noodle Tuesday, bamboo shoots chicken noodle Wednesday, crab flakes noodle Thursday, peppery pork ball Friday, Vietnamese turmeric noodle Saturday, Maruchan ramen at home Sunday.