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HaVL’s shrimpcake noodles in pork broth.

A drizzly, cool Monday morning. After traveling for the past three weeks, Jeff was home, briefly, before heading on the road again. And I, having been laid off about 8 weeks ago, was starting to feel itchy and unsettled. Anxiety and self-doubt were creeping in, especially with my recent solitude.

Jeff took the day off — a day of rest and laundry before leaving again the next morning. I suggested checking a to-do off my unemployment bucket list: Have a late breakfast/early lunch at HaVL on SE 82nd.

HaVL made my to-do list after the noodles repeatedly appeared in the Instagram feed of a trusted foodie-friend. When I quizzed her about the must-try dish she said: “They only have 2 soups daily and usually sell out by 11 or noon. Get there early and go every day of the week until you’ve tried all 14! All of them are unbelievable. Secret tip: you can call early and reserve soup for later if you can’t make it early. They’ll just take your name and save them for you.” (Note: They’re closed on Tuesdays, so there are only 12 soups. “Only.”)

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Crabflake noodles with straw mushrooms and quail eggs.

We arrived around 11am and the small space still had a few tables available. I expect it was an anomaly given that all the tables were full only shortly after we arrived. The vibrant green walls brightened the small space, even on a dark day, and the staff quietly hustled around taking orders and delivering wrapped bánh mì sandwiches, steaming bowls and smaller plates of add-ons: sprouts, mint, cilantro, lime.

On Monday, the soups were crabflake and shrimpcake. We got one of each, naturally. Shrimpcake soup had a lighter, but deeply flavored, pork broth and skinnier rice noodles. The crabflake soup had a velvety, thickened pork broth and fat, slippery rice noodles.

My friend was right — both were unbelievable. A couple extra spoonfuls of fiery chiles, and our bellies were warmed to greet the rest of the week. “Go to HaVL” was crossed off my unemployment bucket list, only to be replaced with, “Go again. Soon.”

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Noodles for breakfast.

Delicious noodles for breakfast.

I had a pretty typical childhood. I loved swimming in the summer; my friends and I pretended we were “Charlie’s Angels,” packing heat and fighting crime in our Salt Lake City neighborhood; I adored kittens — more than once my sister and I dressed up the family cat in old baby clothes. And I ate Top Ramen regularly for breakfast. OK, maybe not completely typical.

Of course, on the weekends, I enjoyed traditional breakfasts: pancakes, French toast, oatmeal with a little brown sugar. But around the age of 12 and on through high school, my breakfast of choice during the week was ramen.

I must have learned this breakfast behavior from my dad, Levi Mike, who never ate “normal” breakfast food. Instead he would make soups and stews, vats of collard greens, Mexican menudo, the leftovers of which would be his morning sustenance. So my penchant for ramen was not terribly unusual. Every morning, I’d start a saucepan with a finger of water and cut the top of the flavor packet, leaving a graveyard of silver trimmings in the drawer where the scissors lived. In less than three minutes, I had a savory, salty, warming pan of noodle soup. Rather than dirty a bowl, I would eat the soup right out of the cookpot, and to get to the “meat” of the meal faster, I would slurp the liquid with a giant mixing spoon. (J and I still have that spoon and use it often, though it’s been retired as silverware.) Once the broth was out of the way, all that remained were the delicious, slippery, curly noodles. I would savor them lovingly, making them last as long as possible. After one unfortunate morning when my mother asked for “a bite” and ate HALF THE NOODLES on one forkful, I became fiercely protective, guarding my noodles with the ferocity of a junkyard dog.

Though I don’t often eat ramen for breakfast anymore, every once in a while I wake up with a craving. I’ve graduated to bowls, and I now use a regular soup spoon. But don’t ask for a bite, even on your birthday. Call me selfish, but for 20 cents or so you can have your very own bowl of noodles for breakfast, in under three minutes. I’ll start the water for you.