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Apologies in advance to the Vietnamese language. The proper characters just don't exist on most keyboards in the US. That said, there is an amazing soup from Vietnam and it is not pho. It is called Bun Bo Hue, or BBH. Hoai Hue, halfway out the Boulevard at the Menlo Ave. intersection, specializes in this dish.

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The signature dish from the city of Hue, BBH is composed of rice vermicelli noodles floating in a bowl of spicy, red beef broth that has been seasoned with lemongrass.

Braised beef shank, sliced pork, creamy beef tendon, and (wonder of wonders) congealed pig's blood mingle with the noodles to make a complete meal. Priced at $6.50, a bowl of BBH is enough lunch to send most people towards an afternoon nap.

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Hoai Hue has other dishes, if the signature BBH doesn't appeal. Banh Canh Tom Cua finds tapioca noodles and seafood meatballs in a shrimp, crab, and beaten egg broth.

Prices on the main plates never exceed $8.

Smaller plates include Banh Bot Loc, which is pork and shrimp tapioca dumplings steamed in banana leaves ($6), and the intriguing Banh Beo, steamed rice cakes topped with pork rinds, ground shrimp, and a side of sweet fish sauce.

Worth trying out at $3.25 for a small order, the texture of the rice cakes is amazing, but the combination is stranger than eating the congealed pig's blood in the BBH, which tastes like liver.

Vietnamese-style iced coffee, loaded with condensed milk and strong espresso, is $2.

Hoai Hue
4660 El Cajon Boulevard
619-563-5358
hoaihue.com
8am-7:30pm, closed Mondays

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