Quan Hop's Bun Rieu - Westminster
If I may indulge you in an analogy: Beer is to pho, as a cosmo is to bun rieu. A bowl of pho is usually swigged, pounded down like a brewski -- poured and served in as many places as there are varietals of ale. On the other hand, a good bowl of bun rieu is rarer to find, slightly pink, and more apt to be sipped and savored; the Vietnamese noodle soup equivalent of a girly drink.
By comparison, pho is a masculine, seemingly testosterone-filled meal. Think of the proteins that inhabit a bowl of pho. Tendon. Beef brisket. Ahem, beef balls. Chewy things that hint of flexing muscles and manly brawn. The broth is bold, often wrenched out of ox bones, then seasoned aggressively, smelling of musk and labor.
As I've said before, the pho at Quan Hop is one of the finest in Orange County. So good, in fact, that it has distracted me from their even more fantastic bun rieu. And as they say, behind every good man, you'll find an even better woman.
In it, I met an elegant and sexy mistress. Its noodles caress my tongue in lustrous, feathery wisps. You don't chew it, you just let it melt. Briefly, you hear its bare whisper of sweet nothings, and then it's gone.
The broth it swims in is delicate and clear, but rimmed with chili red rouge; an elixir as intoxicating as a whiff of perfume from a passing beauty.
Shrimp -- chopped up and reformed into figure eight patties -- are as pink as naked skin. Nubs of sea snail chew softly but naughtily with a slight crunch. Cuts of fried tofu keep things grounded.
Then there's meat from a crab, packed loosely to disintegrate in your mouth as gently as a kiss. Floating in the bowl, a perky set of boiled tomatoes, both supple and plump, drips with juice as you squeeze them between your lips.
And if you kept your eyes shut, you could mistake the cube of congealed pork blood for silken tofu or pudding.
Quan Hop's bun rieu is a bowl to savor; a bowl to fall in love with.
15640 Brookhurst St
Westminster, CA 92683
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