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Best Vietnamese Restaurant Orange County 2008 - Bún Bò Hue So 1

Readers' Choice: Pho 99, Costa Mesa

The trend in Little Saigon for the past couple of years has been to "upgrade" restaurants—clean the floors, buy better ingredients and increase the price by half. Pass. Give us the unpolished glories of Bún Bò Hue So 1. Give us the wonder of its namesake soup, a rude, spicy, red broth spiked with bits of pork blood and pepper, nothing like its gentler pho cousin. There are other dishes—the vermicelli noodle salad bún, broken rice, and other Vietnamese standards—but stick with the namesake. The only nod toward modernity are the giant flat-screen TVs blasting those strange Paris By Night musical spectaculars. And here is the best che (Vietnamese desserts that eschew sugar for natural sweets such as coconut milk and mung beans) in a restaurant not devoted to desserts.

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