My bowl (amusingly called "small") consisted of round bun noodles in a lemongrass, chile and fish sauce infused broth. [Note: The New York Time's style guide has decided that the proper spelling of "chili" is "chile," and who am I to argue?] Toppings included copious amounts of tender beef shank meat, chewy pork loaf and boneless thin slices of pig feet. Veggies in the soup included onions and Vietnamese cilantro that I could suss out, and mint, lime slices and bean sprouts were served on the side. The noodles were surprisingly springy, more than I thought I could hope for, rivaling even wheat noodles for toothsomeness. (Perhaps that's an advantage of round versus flat rice noodles.) With my first sip, the broth seemed only mildly spicy, but the
chile chile heat intensified as the broth cooled and I ate my way deeper into it. Overall, the spice level was just right, to my taste. Only a real chili-head (oh, there I go again) would need to add pepper flakes or squirts of hot cock.
*A useful comparison of bun bo Hue and pho, and why bun bo Hue is not pho can be found in this excellent blog.
Where slurped: Ngoc Mai, 547 Hyde Street, San Francisco