Pho means a lot to many Vietnamese including my husband. But for me Hu Tieu Mi means so much more! I think it’s because I grew up eating it. It’s also my Dad’s favorite noodle soup. When eating out at Vietnamese restaurants, my husband focuses mostly on the Pho section of the menu where I browse through the “Other Specialty Noodle Soups” section. 8 out of 10 times I’d order Hu Tieu Mi and 9 out 10 of those times I’d leave the restaurant very disappointed. So I’ve learned from my experience and now if Hu Tieu Mi is not in the name of the restaurant I won’t order it… LOL. That’s my rule.
When we lived in the DMV area Mi La Cay at Eden Center in VA was our go-to restaurant for this noodle soup. My husband would order the dry version and I’d go for the soup. Both are equally good there to be honest! Another good experience I had was when traveling to San Francisco for work. We went to a hole-in-the-wall Hu Tieu Mi spot in San Jose. It was one of the best Hu Tieu Mi I’ve had outside of Vietnam! My then 2-year old son finished his noodle and lifted the bowl to drink all his broth. He truly enjoyed every bit of that bowl!
So now that we don’t live in MD anymore and we don’t travel to California much either I decided to re-create this dish at home using my beloved Instant Pot. It can be time consuming depending on how many toppings you want to make. But it’s very doable with ingredients that you can find at your local Asian stores. Most people would argue that dried squid is necessary for Hu Tieu broth. To be honest, I never add it. You could also substitute dried squid with a handful of dried shrimps if you like. My recipe omits both 🙂