1140 12th Ave (across from American Savings Bank)
Vietnamese food has been a big trend for me recently. I just crave the hot clear soup broths and the fresh herbs in all of the dishes. Probably the first restaurant I had vietnamese food was at Hale Vietnam. Hale Vietnam (in the popular Kaimuki dining area) is always packed. Having never been to Vietnam, I can't vouch for their authenticity, but I love eating there.
Every single time I’ve been to Hale Vietnam, it’s been packed. The most recent trip we saw 2 tables of Japanese tourists, perhaps HV has made it into the tour guidebooks now. The décor is very casual.
We ordered the sour soup with vegetables, cold noodles with lemongrass chicken, and tofu with peanut sauce. Each dish had a very different flavor, but they all went well together.
The sour soup is my favorite. It’s a clear broth flavored with lemongrass and galangal that is super sour. It’s a flavor totally unique to Vietnamese cuisine. Then it’s filled with veggies: taro stalk (a spongey green veggie, looks a little like zucchini), tomatoes, onions, and tofu.
*left, chicken bun. right, tofu with peanut sauce*
The tofu with peanut sauce reminded me of a Chinese dish. It had a very peanutty sauce, some onions, and was topped with cilantro. The lemongrass chicken noodles were interesting: cool rice noodles, topped with boneless lemongrass chicken stir fried with celery, and liberally sprinkled with green onions and cilantro. It came with a sweet-spicy chili sauce on the side.
Plus, the giant buddha in the front is just so cool.