HA & VL
How to develop a cult following in three easy steps: 1. Give your business an inscrutable name (in this case, the two owners' initials). 2. Have a mysterious menu that changes daily and frequently sells out by lunchtime. 3. Make kick-ass soup, the likes of which have never before been seen in this town. That's the winning formula employed by HA & VL, a Vietnamese deli in a funky strip mall on 82nd. The menu rotates through a selection of obscure (in Portland, anyway) regional noodle soups of Vietnam. No average bowl of pho here; instead you choose from Peppery Pork Balls or Shredded Egg Noodles or the now-legendary Crabflake Noodle soup--provided you arrive on the right day and before the noodle-mad mobs have beaten you to your rightful bowlful. Of course, if you do show up late and the soup of the day is sold out, you can always console yourself with a very fine banh mi sandwich and boba tea. Sitting back and watching Vietnamese soap operas with treats in hand, you might almost forget that soupy perfection was nearly within your grasp.