Hold on to your spoons, because THIS IS THE LIST. Below are 14 Asian soups to eat over the course of one week—two soups a day for the best seven days of your life. Swim in chili-laced broth! Slurp one thousand noodles! Let your fingers swell ever-so-slightly due to high sodium intake!
Or just use this as a checklist to get through the rest of the winter. In an homage to the two rotating soups a day served at Ha VL and Rose VL (definitively the best places to eat soup in Portland), here is a daily guide to what soup is on and where.
Any soup from Rose VL
THIS IS YOUR DAY, SOUPIES! James Beard-nominated Rose VL throws down the three best soups on its menu each Saturday: the super rare cao lau, a memorable Mi Quang, and a chicken curry noodle that won’t quit. Cao lau, which is technically dry noodles served with a side of broth, is shamefully unheard of in the US; because this specialty from the central Vietnam city of Hoi An heaps crispy pork bites, crackers, chicken, and all the fresh herbs over tapioca noodles for a truly wonderful bite. The turmeric noodle and curry noodle are also served at Ha VL, but you should just go to Rose VL every Saturday for the rest of your life. 6424 SE Powell, available only on Saturday (restaurant open Mon-Sat).
Shanxi knife sliced noodle soup at Noodle Man
I’ve journeyed to Happy Valley and back, and I am better for the trip. Noodle Man’s beef and tomato noodle soup is also worth ordering, but I fell hard for the homey chicken flavors, fat ass noods, and piquant chile oil in the Shanxi knife sliced soup ($13). This is a necessary road trip. 15888 SE Happy Valley Town Center, Happy Valley, open daily.
Ph Oregon c bit at Pho Oregon
This pho is the best pho. You can @ me. Go for the No. 1, with round steak, flank, fatty brisket, tendon, tripe, and meatballs for $11.95. The broth is always spiced to death, and never too sweet. This is a Sunday pick because there is no better hangover breakfast. 2518 NE 82nd, open daily.
Budae jjigae at Han Oak
Chef Peter Cho slices the tops of the hot dogs used in this ubiquitous Korean soup to look like little surfacing octopi! This version of “Korean army stew” contains the necessary American cheese slice and instant ramen noodles, made nice for $12 from a top chef. 511 NE 24th, open Fri-Mon.
Crabflake Noodle Soup at Ha VL
If you haven’t been to Ha VL, start with this unusual thick-brothed baby filled with udon-thick rice noodles, crab flakes, straw mushrooms, quail eggs, shrimp, and shredded pork meatloaf. It’s among their finest soups, and certainly one you won’t find anywhere else (other than Rose VL on Thursdays). 2738 SE 82nd #102, available only on Mon, open Wed-Mon.
Vegan Tonyu Red Ramen at Marukin
Vegan ramen can be tough, because ramen’s simmered bones make for the depth and fat we humans crave. [For more vegan soups, see page 37.] But I like the soy milk-based spicy version ($12) at Portland’s best ramen shop, Marukin (suck it, Afuri). It’s got nuance for days, and if you’re not vegan, a soft-boiled egg makes this tofu and mushroom concoction all the heartier. 609 SE Ankeny on Sun, Mon, Wed, & Fri; 126 SW 2nd (inside Pine Street Market) on Tues, Thurs, & Sat.
Tan Tan Ramen at Kayo’s
Unless you’re a spice bro, don’t go hotter than medium with this ramen version of a Chinese classic at Kayo’s. It’s got a nutty vibe, with sesame paste and ample chili in the broth, and topped with seasoned ground pork or tofu for $14. Very cool: For the gluten-free and carb cutters, they have veggie noodle options. 3808 N Williams #124, open Mon-Sat.
Phnom Penh noodles at MeKha Noodles
A reasonable $11.95 gets you rice noodles in a pork broth dank with aromatics, heaped with prawns, sliced pork, ground pork, pork liver, and pork ribs. (Just making that list made me feel like the pork version of Bubba from Forrest Gump!) 6846 NE Sandy, open daily.
All-You-Can-Eat Hot Pot at Hot Pot City
Hot Pot City may not be the finest hot pot (that award goes to Little Sheep in Beaverton), but it is downtown, and it wins because it’s all-you-can-eat. After 10 years of visits, the owners are starting to recognize me, which maybe isn’t a great look at a buffet. Gather your bounty, then retreat to your personal counter-mounted hot pot boiler and slurp ’til you can’t slurp no more. 1975 SW 1st, open Tues-Sun.
Gamja Tang at Spring
This vermillion-brothed pork bone soup ($11.95) looks like the inside of a volcano, arriving boiling hot in a stone bowl. But it rests like a warm hug in your tummy. Simple ingredients of fragrant wild sesame seeds, potatoes, and green cabbage transform into one of the most developed soups on this list. Recently, my dad choked on a chili pepper, turned as red as the soup, and kept eating ’til it was gone. Inside the G-Mart at 3975 SW 114th, Beaverton, open Tues-Sun.
Bun Bo Hue at Teo
There are no menus, just three choices—beef pho, chicken pho, and Bun Bo Hue ($12), the beef and pork soup that bears the name of Vietnam’s former national capital. All are superlative, but we’re sending you here for the last one, a spicy soup with thick rice noodles, pork knuckle, beef, and a distinctive blood cube that’s savory with the texture of firm tofu. 8220 SE Harrison #230, open daily.
Beef noodle at Wei Wei
Wei Wei opened, then closed, then reopened again late last year. A recent visit under its new owners confirms its signature Taiwanese beef noodle soup ($13) is up to its old snuff. Served in a metal bowl, thick wheat noodles luxuriate under a rich beef stock piled high with braised beef. Pickled mustard greens add bright pops of acid, while fresh baby spinach slowly cooks down with the hot broth. 7835 SE 13th, open Tues-Sun.
Super Bowl A at Good Taste
If I hadn’t witnessed it myself, I wouldn’t believe that anyone could eat an entire Super Bowl A in one sitting. This $11.95 bowl is a gargantuan mess of garlicky broth topped with the Chinese barbecue triumvirate of roasted pork, roasted duck, and barbecue pork—cut from slabs hanging in the windows of this Old Town hole in the wall. THEN there’s shrimpy wontons, noodles, and bok choy. It’s two meals, easily, unless your name is Darin. 18 NW 4th, open daily.
Khao Soi at Kinn Kao
At Kinn Kao, the standard chicken, egg noodles, and crispy wonton skins of this yellow curry soup are augmented by sharp shallot and pickled Thai cabbage, along with a customizable level of spice. At $12, it’s not a happy hour dish, but go between 5 and 7 pm to take advantage of one of the best happy hour menus around. 3131 NE Broadway, open daily.