Cold Noodle Season, Dispatch #2: Bun


Noodle: House special bun

Source: Pho Cyclo, 406 Broadway E., 329-9256,

Price: $8.15

Seattleites have the most overdeveloped sense of entitlement when it comes to weather. It's too gray. Its too rainy. It snowed for two days this month. Whine, whine, whine. Last week, apparently, it was too hot. The temperature hit 90 degrees, people, with negligible humidity. As one friend twittered, this would be a nice spring day in Texas.

That said, 90 degrees is still excuse enough to work at home, walk around in shorts all day, and eat bun for lunch. Biking to the ID was too sweaty. Walking over to Pho Cyclo on Broadway to eat bun seemed like the appropriate amount of exertion.

Pho v. bun: the yang and yin of American Vietnamese food, the stubbiest decision tree in most people's minds. The deluxe version of "You want pho or bun?" is "You want Imperial rolls or spring rolls to start?" My decision tree usually ends with a quick look over the list of different pho or bun options, and ends with the words "dac biet" (house special). I prefer to cherish the belief that if the restaurant says a dish is their house special, they're putting extra love into it instead of tacking "house special" on the most expensive thing on the menu.

And as you can see from the picture, the cold rice noodles were almost invisible for their toppings: pickled vegetables and cucumber, grilled pork, grilled shrimp, and pork meatballs. All three meats were nicely cooked, not that pork jerky that you sometimes get on your bun or banh mi. Pho Cyclo's usually the spot I walk to for a quick bowl of pho -- nearby Than Brothers can't compensate for its dismal decor with good broth like Pho Bac and Pho Hoa can. I'll probably keep going to Cyclo just for soup, since the rice noodles were broken and flaccid, and the nuoc cham I poured over the bowl could have given Willie Wonka cavities. One last whine: Perhaps the house special was just too special for me. There were so many hot toppings that the cold noodles and greens underneath warmed up to lukewarm, which didn't have the cooling effect I was hoping for.

Then again, it wasn't that hot.

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