With the arrival of winter, the warmth of a bowl of Vietnamese noodle soup beckons. And while Seattle may not boast the same level of quality as parts of northern or southern California, you can get good Vietnamese food here. In fact, when visitors arrive from out of town, Vietnamese is one cuisine I'm sure to show off in this city.
While some call it Chinatown, Seattle's International District is partly comprised of an area known as Little Saigon. This region is concentrated with Vietnamese grocery stores, delis that do inexpensive banh mi sandwiches and rice boxes (a healthy portion of rice plus a couple of entrées for about $3.00), and reasonably priced sit-down restaurants. There are other Vietnamese restaurants scattered around the city as well, especially pho shops that compete with teriyaki joints in being the ubiquitous fast food of Seattle.
I love the interactivity of Vietnamese soups, as most come with a side plate of herbs, vegetables, and lime wedges. It's a must to taste the broth as presented, and then figure out how to spice it up, both with herbs and perhaps jalapeños for heat. A squirt of lime can quickly brighten up the broth.
Best of all, bowls of Vietnamese soup offer a great diversity of noodles and other ingredients. Noodles can be made of rice, wheat, tapioca, and more. Meanwhile, your bowl may be filled with surprises like banana blossoms, ham hocks, quail eggs, pork blood cubes, and fish cakes—all offering fascinating flavors and textures. I could have happily recommended Huong Binh, featured previously for its congee and dumplings, as the best for many of the bowls, but in an attempt to offer more dining options, I present from eight restaurants ten bowls of Vietnamese noodle soup worth seeking in Seattle, as shown in the slideshow above.
About the author: Jay Friedman is a Seattle-based freelance food writer who happens to travel extensively as a sex educator. An avid fan of noodles (some call him "The Mein Man"), he sees sensuality in all foods, and blogs about it at his Gastrolust website. You can follow him on Twitter @jayfriedman.