Posts Tagged 'pho'



Pho, pronounced “fuuh” is the national dish of Vietnam. It’s a highly-flavoured beef broth with noodles, garnished with a selection of fresh herbs and condiments. A typical pho is served with a platter containing slivered red chillis, fresh limes, onion, coriander and mint. The diner is also provided with a selection of condiments including nuoc mam (Vietnamese fish sauce), soy bean paste, chilli sauce and white pepper. The idea is that the diner is able to adjust the dish according to their own taste. It’s usually a breakfast dish, but it is eaten at all hours of the day.


My first pho encounter was at a famous Saigon chain restaurant called Pho 24. It’s founders vision was to take street food indoors, offering diners a clean, air-conditioned environment to experience this great street food. We ordered two large bowls which comes with two types of beef: brisket and fillet, brisket offering lots more flavour and fillet practically melting into the soup. The beef is barely cooked, the chef dipping the meat into a ladle of hot broth, just before serving. This ensure the beef is still tender and slightly rare.


The star of the show is the dish of garnishes. Vietnamese red chillis are seriously hot! Vietnamese mint doesn’t taste like our common or garden mint; rather it tastes a little like liquorice. I exercised no restraint with my choice of garnishes. Everything went in; all the herbs and beansprouts pictured above, some chilli sauce and huge blob of soy bean paste. It was absolutely delicious, I’d recommend you visit Pho 24 if you find yourself in Saigon or Hanoi. Just be careful when you receive the bill; I ate here 3 times in two different cities and every time I ended up with ‘extras’ added to my bill. Not huge amounts, a dollar or two, but enough to irritate me. (I understand that most people in Vietnam earn very little money, but I’m the kind of tourist who’ll gladly tip if I see someone putting some effort into the service. Just don’t steal from me!)


I also visited a place called Pho 2000 near Ben Thanh market whose claim to fame is that they fed no less than Bill Clinton. It’s true, his photo (in fact, several!) is on the wall of the restaurant. The pho here is pretty good too, the broth is stronger and tastier, but the meat was tougher. Somehow this place felt a little more authentic than Pho 24. Nice friendly service.


As we’re spending a good few days in Saigon next December, I thought I’d research some Vietnamese dishes. I don’t want us to end up eating KFC for a week! The excellent Thorn Tree forum on Lonely Planet recommended, a Vietnamese food blog written by a witty chap called Graham Holliday.

The author takes a classic Vietnamese dish such as pho, a noodle broth, and reviews a wide range of restaurants, markets and shacks serving it; from Saigon to Hanoi. If you’re into Asian food, check it out.

The French colonial influence can be found all over Vietnam it seems, and not just in the architecture. Take the Vietnamese version of our breakfast roll, a banh mi: French bread filled with pate, cucumber, chillies, coriander, shredded pork and sprinkled with nuoc mam, the Vietnamese fish sauce. It’s got to be tasty stuff.