Friday, January 27, 2012

Soup Junkie's Bun Rieu Is All it's Cracked Up to Be at Vinyl Wine Bar Pop-up

Bun rieu from Hung Lam, "Soup Junkie" at Vinyl Wine Bar
The legendary news commentator Wes "Scoop" Nisker liked to urge his KSAN listeners "If you don't like the news, go out and make some of your own."  I guess it can also be said "If you don't like the noodles, go out and make some of your own," which seems to be the attitude of one Hung Lam, who calls himself the Soup Junkie.  According to Eater San Francisco, Lam did in fact get into making his own soups when he wasn't happy with the ones at local restaurants. Tonight he brought his consummated passion to a pop-up at the Vinyl Wine Bar on Divisadero (all the good stuff happens North of Market, no?), to the good fortune of 40 or 50 people who showed up with noodles on their minds.

I arrived early at the Vinyl Wine Bar and Lam and his sidekick were running a bit late, so I had time to nurse a glass of Raging Bitch IPA (like a good wine bar should, Vinyl also has a nice beer list) and let my anticipation grow for the soupe du jour, bun rieu, a Vietnamese crab and tomato rice noodle soup. My expectations were high, baited by the handout which promised "Fresh Crab Omelette, 6-Hour Crab Tomato Broth, Housemade Pork Meatballs, Curled Water Spinach, Tomatoes, Fresh Herbs, Silky Rice Noodles."  Thanks to my early arrival, I was also one of the first to receive my bowl of soup, about 45 minutes after my arrival, while people arriving around that time were told to expect a further hour's wait. .

I had only had bun rieu once before, a version that didn't particularly excite me, and the Soup Junkie's rendition came as a revelation.  A first sip of the broth discovered a complex crab-tomato flavor which held up to the bottom of the bowl. The noodles were as springy and toothsome as I have ever experienced in rice noodles.  As can be seen in the photo above, the airy crab "omelette" (more like a cross between a souffle and a fritatta) was a generous portion, as was the number of little pork meatballs that slept at the bottom of the bowl, a hearty finish to a very substantial and satisfying soup.

I'm usually annoyed when people describe foods as "crack" but since Hung Lam calls himself a soup "Junkie" I'll stretch the metaphor and say yes, what he's dealing is crack for the noodle lover's palate.

Follow @soupjunkiesf to find out where Mr. Lam will be popping up next.

Where slurped: Vinyl Wine Bar, 359 Divisadero St., San Francisco

1 comment:

  1. Dang, I haven't had bun rieu in forever! I really miss all the powerful flavors in that dish.


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