Over a month ago, I mentioned that Hoai Hue Restaurant would be opening in the former Huynh Hoa Tuu location. A quick check down the street confirmed that they closed up their old shop, and had moved to larger and more pretty digs. Truth be told, I was going to miss having people look for Hung's Tattoo Parlor and the Alcoholics Anonymous to find the place......
The pepto bismol pink interior has been repainted, and a few decorative items added, but "the bone structure" of the restaurant is the same.
The menu here reflects some regional differences in the names of a couple of dishes. For instance, what we usually call Bun Rieu is Bun Tom Cua. Still, there's no mistaking the freshness of the veggies that arrive in advance of your soup.
The brisk freshness of the herbs and greens, and the abundance of mint makes this one of two areas where Hoai Hue is superior to our favorite, Mien Trung.
The Missus's Bun RieuBun Tom Cua ($6.75) arrived first, looking quite nice.
The Missus went over Her key points with regards to Bun Rieu.... the correct style noodles were used, and was cooked perfectly. The flavor of the broth was milder than Mien Trung, could have used a bit more of a pungent-savory punch, and for what is a deal breaker for the Missus, it was served lukewarm. We prefer this style of soup to be very hot, to better soften the usual amount of herbs a vegetables one adds to Bun Rieu and Bun Bo Hue. The usual crab-seafood patty is replaced with what is almost a seafood ball. It has a bit too much "squeak", and wasn't as pleasurable as the soft and tender crab patty.
There are three different Bun Bo Hue on the menu here, the Bun Bo Hue, Bun Bo Hue Dac Biet, and what I ordered, Bun Tom Hoai Hue($7.50), which had the addition of the seafood "meatball".
The second thing that Hoai Hue does better then Mien Trung are most of the cuts of meat. The pork hock has nice flavor. I'm not a fan of the two different "meatballs" served in the soup; the afore mentioned seafood meatball, and the bland meatball that replaces the typical Cha Lua was also not a great addition in my opinion. The broth was milder then Mien Trung's version, and really didn't have that spice, along with a nice lemongrass kick. Less pungent meant the addition of Mam Tom as well. My soup was also barely over lukewarm, but the noodles were perfect in texture.
We did notice that the soups here have changed a bit over the years, and now looks a bit more refined. The young man running the place initially thought we were Vietnamese, and was surprised when we told him we weren't. Hoai Hue still makes a decent bowl, our favorite next to Mien Trung. And it sure has been great Bun Bo Hue weather recently!