Position an oven rack 4 to 6 inches from the broiler and preheat. Double a very large piece of heavy foil. Scatter the onion, garlic, ginger, cloves, anise and 5 grinds of pepper on the foil. Broil for 5 minutes, turning the pieces once. You want the onion to have some toasted edges and the spices should be fragrant. Scrape everything into a 6-quart pot. Be sure to get all the anise seed if that's what you used.
Add the broth, sugar and fish sauce and bring to a gentle bubble. Cover tightly and simmer for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, put the rice noodles in a large bowl and cover them with very hot tap water. (To keep them hot, cover the bowl with a plate.) Soak the noodles for 10 to 15 minutes or until they are tender but with a little more firmness than you want. Stir a few times. When they are ready, drain and rinse well with cold water. Divide the noodles between two large soup bowls.
While the broth is simmering and the noodles are soaking, arranging the table salad on a platter and set out the sauces.
To serve, divide the beef between the soup bowls. Ladle the bubbling broth into the bowls. Top each serving with selections from the table salad.