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Rush Hour Station: warming Bloomington hearts since 2011

Sweater weather has officially descended upon Bloomington, which means cool days and chilly nights. If you ever find yourself stuck in the occasional cold rain with your teeth chattering with no idea what to eat, try heading over to Rush Hour Station. 

Rush Hour Station was established in late 2011 as a grocery store, but was later converted to an Asian-fusion café in 2012, with a special focus on Vietnamese-inspired soups and sandwiches. 

Nestled in a neighborhood strip mall on East Third Street, it might be easy to miss the little diner at first glance. On rainy fall nights, however, the warm lights always shine through the blinds offering diners a bit of privacy as they enjoy a bowl of hot, steaming pho — a Vietnamese-style soup — or a carefully made banh mi — a Vietnamese-style sandwich. 

Walking through the front door, guests see a welcoming blend of red and white colors. The counters are colored red, the walls white, while the steel-and-wooden chairs and tables give the restaurant a sleek and crisp vibe. A large poster, upon which multi-lingual phrases that all mean "I love you" are written, hangs from a wall. 

The menu, projected on electronic display screens directly above the counter, features a standard selection of Asian-fusion dishes, a notable example being the Rush Hour fried rice that contains radishes, sriracha sauce, onions, carrots and tomatoes, along with the diner’s choice of protein. 

The two centerpieces are the banh mi and pho collections. Sandwich lovers can choose between banh mi or wraps. According to the menu description, both come with ingredients like fresh carrots, cilantro, cucumber, pickled daikon radishes and mayo. Guests then pick a protein, which range from chicken, beef and shrimp for meat eaters and tofu and mushrooms for vegetarians. To top everything off, Rush Hour also provides a sauce menu with choices like Asian BBQ, lemongrass and sweet soy.

Looking at the pho menu is a pleasure in its own right. Each dish comes its own name, rice noodles soaked in a soup base and a side of basil, bean sprouts, jalapeños and lime. “Smile from the Soul” has tofu, “Be Kind to Each Other” features chicken, while the meatball pho dish is aptly named “Your Path has Many Meatballs.” 

“Anger Management” never fails to amuse me, given that the name may be a subtle nod to its spicy chili soy broth.

Grab your favorite sweater and head to Rush Hour Station to experience the flavors that can be found on East Third Street.

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