1. Hà VL
2738 SE 82nd Ave., Suite 102, 503-772-0103.
Hà VL is so popular that if you show up after noon, the kitchen has probably run out of the soup you've set your heart on slurping down. Cross your fingers the hu tieu nam vang ($12) is still available—the pork and seafood noodle soup is light but packed with umami and brightened by spring onions and a squirt of lime. It's served with accompaniments like lettuce and chile sauce, but you probably won't need them.
2. Afuri Izakaya
923 SE 7th Ave., 503-468-5001, afuri.us; 50 SW 3rd Ave., 971-288-5510, afuriramen.com.
Afuri comes directly from Tokyo, and while its inventive cocktails and beautifully fresh sushi are notable, the star of the show from start to finish is the ramen. The sleeper hit is the vegan hazelnut tantanmen. It's perfectly enjoyable as is, with the hazelnuts giving the miso broth a rich nuttiness, but even better when topped with egg and pork for an additional $3.
3. Kenny’s Noodle House
8305 SE Powell Blvd., 503-771-6868.
Even at the improbable hour of 2 pm on a Monday, you have to wait in line behind two other parties to squeeze into this tiny bungalow. But it's worth it, because the congee with rockfish and bok choy is one of the best in town. It's simmered until the rice has just released its gluten, unspooling itself into a creamy porridge that suspends roasted peanuts and spring onions on its smooth, white surface and conceals chunks of restorative fish and veggies underneath.
4. Teo Bun Bo Hue
8220 SE Harrison St., No. 230, 503-208-3532.
The casual, busy cafe lacks menus and serves only three things—its signature bun bo hue, as well as chicken and beef pho. The namesake soup is an enormous, steaming bowl of rich, savory flavors, and the chicken pho is reminiscent of American chicken noodle: a soothing, aromatic basin of noodles and chicken offered bone-in or boneless.
5. Pho Oregon
2518 NE 82nd Ave., 503-262-8816, phooregon.net.
Many Portlanders consider Pho Oregon's broth the best in town. But patrons awaiting a massive, beefy bowl of Vietnamese noodle soup second-guess their choice as the aromas of sizzling short riPbs, chargrilled pork skewers and myriad other rice and noodle soups waft by. If you manage to venture into the menu's vermicelli noodle dish section, chargrilled chicken skewers are a good gateway.