BY EVE HILL-AGNUS
Dallas: Last year, I went on a search for bún riêu, the elusive Vietnamese shrimp, crab, and tomato soup. Every Vietnamese friend I asked said that the only way I would encounter anything approaching what they would sign off on was if their mother made it. A friend finally took pity on me, and we spent a morning cooking and being fed by her friend’s mother-in-law. She set before us a bowl: fluffy crab balled into orbs that barely held together in a sunset-colored soup with vermicelli and fried tofu, the tomato broth sour with tamarind and savory with shrimp paste. It was umami-filled and delicate at once. With its tomatoes, crab, and shrimp paste, it was almost like a tangy Vietnamese bouillabaisse.
This was a high bar to set.
In the past months, I’ve slowly widened my search. I flitted. I spent afternoons landing in strip mall mom-and-pop spots, trying to suss out where the innocent, uninitiated public (read: novice) like me could find more bún riêu—dipping into bowl after bowl. I burned to know.
At Sky Blossom Bistro, the rooftop fusion spot nestled in downtown Dallas, there was a bowl with all the usual suspects—and the possibility of accenting it with a cocktail and view.
And now that I’d spent time with the—I’ll say it: hard to find—deliciousness that is bún riêu, it showed up at a pop-up last weekend, executed by the Noodboyz & Thicc Sticcz pop-up at Trinity Cider. They have been among the cohort of Southeast Asian pop-ups revolutionizing and reinvigorating the landscape of late. (If this is not more evidence that bún riêu should be on your radar, I don’t know what is.)