Spaghetti with bottarga, the must-order at La Ciccia.
I've been wanting to try Soup Junkie's Vietnamese soups for a long time now—specifically, their signature crab and tomato noodle soup with pork meatballs. Now that we're working on a story on Asian noodles for our February issue, I figured I could chalk it up to "research." So, I herded a bunch of editors and art directors from the magazine together and we headed down from our office near Levi's Strauss plaza to Market and Front Street, boldly leaving our umbrellas behind.
We got to the tiny window-front with a large crowd gathered around it. When I stepped up to order, I was so excited, envisioning the soup to come, except … they were out! Out of the crab and tomato noodle soup. Out of the pho. Dejectedly, I ordered the veggie noodle soup, feeling a bit abused. We dried the rain water off a couple of the sidewalk tables and sat down to eat. A few bites in, I realized that this was no ordinary veggie soup with rice noodles and tofu, mushrooms, and Thai basil. The broth was full of flavor—enough to make me fleetingly ponder vegetarianism—and with a little chili sauce, even better. Perfect for a winter's day and totally delicious.
Except … it started raining. In the name of good soup, we perservered. Part of me was reveling in it—reflecting back to a trip to Tokyo where I had the best ramen of my life in the rain—the rain being an essential ingredient in the whole experience. But part of me was getting really wet, so we bagged our open-air picnic and headed for shelter.
Clearly, this weekend is going to be a soup kind of weekend. Tweet out to @saradeseran and @sanfranmag to let us know what your favorite Asian noodle soups in the city are—in the name of research!