Mere dilettantes wouldn’t dare open a soup shop in the middle of a record-breaking heat wave. But for Ha “Christina” Luu and William Vuong, commitment is all, and every day is the right time to eat the soups they love and labor over: herbaceous, flavor-saturated, old-school, slow-simmered formulas from Vietnam.
The couple’s Rose VL Deli opened over the weekend on Powell Boulevard to hordes of hopefuls and well wishers eager for a fresh taste of Luu’s formidable broths.
On Saturday night, she delivered: a new fish-noodle soup from central Vietnam, deep and delicate, teaming with salmon and Asian knife fish—and best eaten with banana blossom shreds, fresh lime, crunchy lettuce, fragrant herbs, and spicy fishy sauce provided on the side.
It’s the next chapter for the Vuongs and their devoted customers. HA & VL, the couple’s original 82nd Avenue restaurant, is a destination for rabid regulars and national food writers alike. Several years ago, they sold the shop to son Peter, a talented cook himself. In late May, Christina, a spunky 65-year-old, and William, who just turned 75, told Eat Beat they were coming out of semi-retirement to continue their cooking adventures, carting with them a few HA & VL soup and banh mi signatures, but most importantly, debuting some new, rarely seen regional Vietnamese noodle soups. Unlike HA & VL, which is only open during the day and often sold out by 1 pm, Rose VL Deli serves an early evening crowd, Wednesday-Monday, 4 to 9 pm.
The new space, set in a mini strip-mall, feels like a Vietnamese soup shop gone to an American prom. The 30-seat room gleams in semi-formal white: white oilcloth, white chairs, white floors, set off by walls of mustard yellow and hot purple. In two small corner eating counters, bright red plastic stools jump out like happy flowers.
The menu format feels familiar to HA&VL devotees: two different soups each day, a good-sized collection of banh mi, smoothies and bubble teas, and, critically, Luu’s fantastic Vietnamese iced coffee, dripped to order. The menu is still in flux, but I’ve got my eye on Fridays, when Luu plans to pull out her original recipe for “Dry Chicken Noodle,” with shredded chicken, rice noodles, and chicken broth on the side. Another dry rice-noodle dish, this one from Phnom Penh, promises “shrimp, fish balls, ground pork, squid, sliced pork liver and sliced BBQ pork”—and that’s without Luu’s magic touch. Sunday is devoted to a new, northern Vietnam “Bamboo Shoots Chicken Noodle Soup” as well as HA&VL’s legendary Mi Quang turmeric noodles, spiced to make you swoon, crowned in roasted peanuts, and capped with a puffy sesame cracker.
See you there.
Rose VL Deli
6424 SE Powell Blvd
Wed-Mon, 4–9 pm