Lunch Q: Huong Binh

by Harlan Yee on September 10th, 2010

Huong Binh 015Today, we visit one of my favorite Vietnamese restaurants, Huong Binh. I’m not even sure how to correctly say the name, I usually just mutter it. My co-worker who is Vietnamese has introduced me to many Vietnamese restaurants and this one ranks high on my list. Huong Binh is located in a strip mall at the base of Beacon Hill in Seattle’s International District. It is a small barely noticable restaurant among many in a crowed strip mall but serves up very tasty Vietnamese dishes.

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As we were ordering our food, I noticed that they had gotten new customized soup spoons and tea cups plus bright green chop sticks. Nice! Also, the sign outside was new.

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For an appetizer, we ordered the Goi Cuon or fresh salad rolls. They’re filled with shrimp, thin sliced pork, vermicelli noodles and bean sprouts wrapped in rice paper. This is quite a fancy presentation they have here and the salad rolls at Huong Binh are enormous! The peanut dipping sauce is superb and even better with a couple spoons of hot sauce added to it.

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Today, I decided on the vermicelli noodle bowl known as Bun Thit Nuong which can be described as a Vietnamese noodle salad with BBQ pork or other meats on top of cold rice noodles and garnished with pickled carrots, radishes and cucumber. I always order mine with a combination of BBQ pork and meatballs. They are simply the best here. The grilled pork is awesome. How do they get so much flavor in that pork? And the meatballs are fat and juicy! Other places I’ve been to have meatballs that are too dry and tough.

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The dish comes with a dressing called nuoc cham that is slightly tangy and sweet. Pour some of the sauce into the noodles and save a bit for dipping the meat. It seems like a very light dish except with all that meat on top, that definitely adds to the calorie count. The pork is tender and not necessarily lean. But I love this dish. Great in the summer.

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My co-worker got another dish I like very much called Bun Bo Hue which is a spicy beef noodle soup. You can tell there is some serious heat coming from that bowl! It comes with thin slices of tender beef topped with raw onions. It also has something like a large shrimp cake sliced into patties but I’m not quite sure what it’s made of. Plus a pork hock. This dish is accompanied with a plate of fresh bean sprouts, lettuce and basil. It’s the best on a cold rainy day. The noodles are thick rice noodles (unlike those used in pho) and served boiling hot! This one will make you sweat!

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Huong Binh is one of those little restaurant treasures that few would ever experience without a recommendation from others and this review is my way of saying try it out!
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