Pop quiz! Where is the largest Asian shopping mall on the East Coast?
Did you guess New York City? Because it’s not. Neither is Philly. In fact, it’s not even in a major city—it’s in Falls Church, Virginia, a city located about ten miles away from Washington DC.
There, you’ll find Eden Center, a fixture for the Vietnamese community since the mid 1980s. And while there are a bunch of stores facing the parking lot like a typical strip mall, many people don’t realize that there are actually many more shops located in the interiors of the buildings as well.
In that maze of a mall, you’ll find Phung Hoang, a restaurant that is famed for Bun bo hue, a spicy Vietnamese beef soup. It’s easy to miss—I walked by it a few times because I had assumed that the restaurant was a tiny grocery: they had a little table outside the restaurant entrance where they were selling a selection of fresh veggies and foods.
Once I figured it out, though, I walked into Phung Hoang. However, the lady inside didn’t even give me a menu. Instead, she just asked “Bun bo hue?” To which I said “yes” and that was it.
But seriously. This was easily one of the best bun bo hue I’ve ever had in my life; it was well worth the over hour drive from Baltimore to get it. There was an incredible depth to the spicy broth. Absolutely amazing. I will be back again for sure.