QUESTION: On my last trip to Vietnam, I ate a spicy-red beef noodle soup that was quite delicious. Presumably the dish is available in Los Angeles, but every time I ask about it in a Vietnamese restaurant, they bring me a bowl of pho. Pho is good, but it’s not what I’m looking for. Any ideas?
ANSWER: The noodle you are looking for is almost certainly bun bo hue, a specialty of the central Vietnamese city Hue made with beef, spices and pigs’ feet, a gelatinous soup with a chile punch, thick, soft rice noodles, and a strong, gamy quality that isn’t always to everyone’s taste. You can find bun bo hue at almost any decent local noodle house — I like the version at Golden Deli — but for the platonic version you will have to drive south to Westminster’s Little Saigon neighborhood. Quan Hy serves many Hue specialties, including tiny steamed rice cakes with shredded shrimp, garlicky fried chicken with fried lozenges of sticky rice, and delicate steamed dumplings stuffed with mushrooms, but the bun bo hue, balanced, light and just funky enough, is worth the drive down all by itself. 9727 Bolsa Ave., Westminster, (714) 775-7179.