Huong Duong in Rainier Valley specializes in Vietnamese food but attracts a global crowd.
A popular place among the refugee community in Rainier Valley, Huong Duong sits in an inconspicuous strip mall across from the screeching of the Othello light-rail station.
The salary men lunch here, and come evening, a mix of Southeastern Asian, Mexican and African customers hunch over giant bowls of pho. Come one, come all: It’s as diverse a crowd as you will find. The Vietnamese food isn’t exactly nuanced. But that is hardly the point. The draw is that the grub comes in copious amounts, and the price is right — most dishes range from $6 to $8.
The menu: It’s a typical, large-format menu you find in Chinatown International District restaurants, featuring more than 50 appetizers, noodles and rice entrees, mostly Vietnamese dishes and a few Chinese stir-fries.
7136 Martin Luther King Jr. Way S., Seattle
Hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday; closed Sunday
Etc: credit cards accepted; no beer or wine; no obstacles to access; lot and street parking
What to write home about: An order of two pork chops caramelized over the grill with fish sauce, served with fried egg and rice ($7.95), is the best value. The hearty duck noodle soup with steamed thigh meat may be a bit pungent and high maintenance for the mainstream (served with bones with a gelatinous duck skin), but this rich chicken- and-duck broth, with generous chunks of meat sprinkled with fried shallots for texture, is a favorite among the Vietnamese locals. A shrimp mango salad comes with bright slivers of fruit, one of the fresher variations in Seattle.
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What to skip: The deluxe beef pho came with a heaping of round eye, tripe, tendon and meatballs but was served in a bland, light broth. Portions range from a small ($6.95) to a large ($9.95), though its regular serving ($7.25) is sufficient.
The setting: With the exception of some biblical passages adorning the walls — the owner is Catholic — Huong Duong looks a lot like those nondescript hole-in-the-walls in the Chinatown ID. Even if it’s crowded, the food comes out fast, and the crowd turnover is quick.
Summing up: A shrimp crepe ($5.25), shrimp mango salad ($6.59), deluxe pho ($7.25), duck noodle soup ($8.59), vermicelli noodle bowl ($8.25) and pork chops with rice ($7.95) totaled $43.88 and was enough to feed four.