Oh the weather outside is frightful and if you are looking for soup that is delightful, pay a visit to Green Papaya in Miami Lakes. Between the rain and everyone seeming to have the start of a sore throat, come lunchtime we have been looking for one thing: soup as a meal. Green Papaya, the little Vietnamese restaurant in a strip mall, has a menu category dedicated to just that. While we work through the menu, one soup at a time, we thought it was time to share our latest obsession.
Green Papaya is a tiny restaurant with a -- you guessed it -- green papaya painted on the wall, pleasant music playing and if you are there for lunchtime, you can watch "The Chew" on mute on the TV in the corner. There is a wide range of customers and we have been there when it was crowded and we had to share tables with strangers and when we had the whole place to ourselves. The namesake special green papaya salad ($7.95) is a must order dish, but we have yet to settle on what to top it with because the beef jerky topping option is never a choice that they have available. Regardless, the complexity of the sweet green papaya, fish sauce, mint, carrots, jicama, red onion, peanuts, lime, cilantro and the highly addictive fried shallots is something that we can never get enough of. We mix with our chopsticks until each bite gets better than the next as all the flavor meets to create something magical.
But, oh yeah, back to our friend soupy. Pho is the soup of a thousand puns and the go to dish at most Vietnamese restaurants. Although here at Green Papaya, it is probably the least impressive. Don't get us a wrong, the special beef noodle soup ($8.95) is still a good option. Like the average-looking person, you can dress it up in a million different accessories and it will come pretty attractive. Squeeze in some hoisin, hot cock sauce and lime. Throw in some bean sprouts, torn up mint, and jalapenos. Although the basic broth and the not-rare-enough-beef tossed in makes it a less desirable soup option. However, fully decked out in toppings, this soup becomes pretty tasty.
The roast duck noodle soup ($10.50) is hands down the most slurpable bowl. The broth is delicate and flavorful with the hint of five spice lurking. The soup is cabbage lined and the pieces of roasted duck are unbelievably tender. The yellow noodles have a nice chew to them and less than halfway through we found ourselves duck hunting in the bowl looking for more meat, which thankfully always seemed to turn up. The fried shallots that we were obsessed with in the papaya salad turn up in the soup and while this soup needs no help from the toppings, we still found ourselves squeezing in the lime and tearing up the mint for some customization.
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Another bowl worth mentioning is the hue castle noodle soup ($8.95) it is a spicy soup with both pork and beef. This soup is sure to knock out any cold. The soothing thin rice noodles, the heat of the spice and the freshness of the lemongrass make this a soup worth trying. This soup is much tastier than the basic pho and is our new go to dish with any hint of a cold.
The soups at Green Papaya are so stupendous that we recommend that you slurp them up on more than just a rain day or when you feel a cold begin to strike. It is worth noting that they keep the restaurant mighty cold at all times, perhaps to steer patrons to order up their delicious soups. The thing about all of these soup is that they stick with you. The broth lingers on and becomes a taste that you just don't want to get out of your mouth and the memory is one that hasn't escaped our mind, so we keep returning for another bowl.
Follow Carina on Twitter @CarinaOst