6, J, N, Q, R, Z to Canal St.
Worth St. to Houston St., Bowery to Lafayette St.
In the three-block radius around the Manhattan Bridge entrance, you’re never far from a bowl of pho, Vietnam’s answer to matzo-ball soup. Xe Lua differentiates its version by serving the House Special Noodle Soup in a bowl big enough for swimming laps. Equally friendly is the Polynesian décor of turquoise murals, blond plastic bamboo, a gurgling fountain, and a torch-lined footbridge separating the airy front room from the fishnetted back. Despite the surf theme, turf dishes win out. Vietnamese pork chops are thinly sliced and chopstick-friendly; bún—rice vermicelli, pickled carrots, and chopped lettuce—gets tossed in a sweet fish-sauce vinaigrette and topped with saté-like rolls of caramelized beef. The fairly typical menu also earns points for linguistic originality: Entrées are categorized as “Porky,” “Chicken Little,” or “Where’s the Beef?”Recommended Dishes
Famous Vietnamese pork chop, $10; hollow vegetable with garlic sauce, $10; barbecued beef with nuoc cham bún, $8