Noodle Soup in the Tenderloin [San Francisco]

I’ve lately been going to the Tenderloin a lot for noodle soup, as it is close to public transportation and has a wealth of places to get noodle soup, particularly in and around Little Saigon.

Some of the places that I like:
Ha Nam Ninh - Hu Tieu Nam Vang, Number 25, ordered “dry” with a fried egg on top. Really addictive. I’ve often thought of trying their regular version of this but always end up getting it dry. Will try the wet version someday.

Zen Yai - boat noodles from the secret menu.

Kyu3 - The boat noodles here are good, but I really like their Sukhothai noodles, which are in a slightly sour broth and garnished with pork cracklings, liver, green beans, crushed chili, fish balls, fish cake, pork slices, and ground pork.

Turtle Tower - Pho ga. I like Turtle Tower’s noodles, which are wider than the vermicelli usually in pho and also seem to have a lighter and more slippery texture.

Hai Ky Mi Gia - Duck leg noodle soup, chiu chow noodle soup, beef stew ho fun. You can get the duck leg noodle soup and the chiu chow noodle soup here “dry” as well with the soup on the side. Have not tried it.

Pho 2000 - The bun bo hue here is pretty good, with fatty pieces of meat and a rich spicy broth. Their bun rieu looks good too but I haven’t tried it.

Does anyone else have any recommendations for noodle soup in the TL?

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Bun Mam at Tuyet Mai, if you like a soup that is both sour and fishy (also available at Mong Thu in the TL). Tuyet Mai’s Bun Bo Hue might also be as good as any in town, though I haven’t tried Pho 2000’s version.

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Thanks for this list. One thing worth mentioning about Hai Ky Mi Gia is that it opens at 8:00 AM. We love having breakfast there occasionally. The second time we went was months after the first, and the women running the place all remembered us and that my daughter studies Mandarin. That was kind of amazing. Looks like Pho 2000 also opens early. Will have to check it out.

Tycoon Thai has some noodle soups on the menu. We went maybe 6 weeks ago and thought the food was excellent, definitely worth returning.

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I second Tycoon Thai, which has a Lao chef onboard and has a number of Isan Thai and Lao specialties. I think their Kao Piak (a signature Lao chicken soup with house-made rice noodles) is better than Champa Garden’s and Maneelap Srimongkoun’s version. Good beers on tap, too, though I doubt they still have a $4 pint of Sculpin IPA like they did at opening.

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I agree with the other picks of yours that I’ve tried, so I should warn you, the bun rieu at Pho2000 is not good–it has a distinctive canned flavor.

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Actually, I was there last week, and the Sculpin is back! I was amazed. They must be losing money on it.

I forgot almost all of the details of the dish because its a while ago. Its one of the noodle dish at Lers Ros. I vaguely recall the broth was rather dark in color and there were fish balls in it. Very nice bowl of noodles.

My Lao friend, who is also a great cook, likes the bamboo soup at Tycoon quite a lot (although it goes there by a different name, maybe mushroom soup).

Probably “Gang Hed Sam Yang” on the “Friend’s Requested” section of the menu. I’ll have to try that one. (I always jump on the noodle soups first for my blog.)

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That’s the one. 3 kinds of mushroom soup, Sam yang = 3 kinds. But it’s really bamboo soup.

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Thanks for the recommendations to try.

I tried the khao piak at Tycoon Thai and it was really good. Haven’t had this dish before. Chewy thick rice noodles (chewier than your usual flat rice noodles) and a good slightly thickened chicken(?) broth as well. Came with sliced fish cake, fried shallot, ground pork, stewed pork chunks, pork blood cubes, cilantro, and green onion. I liked the chewiness of the noodles. FYI the Sculpin IPA and other beers on tap are now $5 for a glass and $16 for a pitcher on the drink menu.

Will check out Tuyet Mai’s bun mam, have not had bun mam before. I have tried the bun bo hue at Tuyet Mai before and thought it was ok. I thought the meat could have been a little more fatty and the broth more spicy. Have only had it once though, maybe I caught them on a bad day. They include a pork knuckle which some places don’t provide.

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The mister, the kid, and I had lunch at Ha Nam Ninh yesterday. I had the “25 dry,” which I liked quite a bit.

Article about that dish here (note that old address is listed): http://www.examiner.com/review/ha-nam-ninh-the-mystery-behind-25-dry

The family thought their pho orders were fine, but agreed that better pho could be had elsewhere.

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You can request the BBH at Tuyet Mai to be spicier, and if you are a gueilao you may have to request to blood cubes too as I did.

It’s all relative. I said the Bun Bo Hue at Tuyet Mai might be the best in SF, not the Bay Area. Just yesterday Andrew Zimmern dubbed (via Instagram and Twitter) the BBH at Bun Bo Hue An Nam in San Jose “Best in USA. Not even close.”

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i’ve had nice bowls of pho at pho 2000 but last night’s meal was disappointing. the menu lists thin or wide noodle options, and in the past the wide meant fresh rice noodles, like the ones offered at turtle tower. last night our server said they don’t have wide noodles. i was too hungry to think to ask if this was a permanent change or if they had simply run out. i prefer the texture, but hey thin works just fine. but the other problem was that i think i got profiled. my #1 pho dac biet had all the right parts, just not in the right proportions. there was plenty of rare steak and well done meats, but it was very stingy with the tendon and tripe. i suspect the place has become more popular of late and many people ordering pho dac biet should just admit to themselves that they don’t really want the tendon or tripe. but i actually do, so if when i return here i’ll make that clear. broth still good, if maybe a touch sweeter than i remember, and they’re open until 8:30, much later than many other joints in the tenderloin.

Oh man. The wait gets even longer.

Off topic- but the one thing I don’t understand about BBH An Nam is that the same people have a shop two doors down called An Nam selling Pho Ga, and the place is never crowded. I don’t understand why they don’t just sell BBH at both the places, unless its some sort of family feud spinoff.

Tycoon Thai seems to have happy hour weekdays 5-8pm, “any beer $3”, $5 bites. They also have a lunch combo menu now in addition to the regular menu. I hope they are not getting desperate for business…

Thanks for the Kyu3 sukhothai recommendation! Satisfying and more plentiful solids than soup, which is my preference. Delicious by itself, but I added some of the “soy sauce” (it’s actually Golden Mountain Sauce).

The server also recommended:
Curry noodle (Khao soi)
Beef noodles (dry)
Boat noodles (w/ blood cubes)

For dry noodles, she recommended :the Garlic noodles basil, w/ bell pepper, green beans, and basil

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I’ve had the khao soi and the boat noodles at Kyu3, both are good.

Not about noodles, but I dropped in on Tycoon Thai’s happy hour. Got a pint of Sculpin for $3 (!), and sai ua and som tum Thai for $5 each. These are smaller portions than the dishes on the menu (two sausages instead of three, for example) but still a bargain, and I got to have two dishes instead of one.

The Kao Piak noodles typically have Tapioca, which adds to the chewiness. This is similar to the Vietnamese Banh Canh

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Thanks for the info. They definitely had a bit of boba-like chewiness.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold