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  • Writer's pictureTravel Vietnam Local Guide

Everything about Pho Vietnam

Updated: May 31

This iconic Vietnamese noodle soup is beloved by locals and visitors alike, and for good reason. Let's explore all things about Pho - one dish you cannot miss in your Vietnam trip!

Pho - a famous Vietnamese dish with international tourists

Pho is a hearty noodle soup that’s famous for its flavorful broth, tender meat, and fresh herbs. It typically consists of rice noodles, a savory broth made from simmered bones and spices, slices of beef or chicken, and a mix of fresh herbs and bean sprouts. It’s a dish that warms the soul and delights the taste buds, perfect for any time of the day.

Main ingredients in a bowl of Pho

The main ingredients of Pho are rice noodles and broth along with thinly sliced ​​beef.

  • "Pho cake", traditionally, is made from rice flour, coated into thin sheets and then cut into strips.

  • Broth is generally made by stewing beef bones, meat used for Pho is beef or chicken, dried squid and spices including cinnamon, anise, ginger, cardamom, Cloves, dried onions, shrimp, prawns, dried ginseng, oxtail, coriander seeds, etc. The recipe of each specific broth for each Pho brand is kept quite a secret.

  • Also included are spices such as: soy sauce, pepper, lemon, fish sauce, chili,... These spices are added depending on the taste of each user.

Differences of traditional Pho in different regions of Vietnam

Pho is usually used as breakfast or dinner. Nowadays, Pho has different processing methods and flavors. In Vietnam, there are names to distinguish them: Pho Bac (in the North), Pho Hue (in the Central region) and Pho Sai Gon (in the South). Normally, Northern Pho is characterized by salty taste while Southern Pho is sweet and full of vegetables. Pho in the South is smaller than in the North.

Pho Bac - the classic Pho in Northern Vietnam

Pho Bac - the classic Pho in Northern Vietnam
Pho Bac - the classic Pho in Northern Vietnam (Source: Internet)

In the north, particularly Ha Noi, Pho is known for its clear, light broth and simple yet delicious ingredients.

  • Main Ingredients:

    • Clear broth made from beef bones, thin slices of beef (often raw and cooked by the hot broth), rice noodles, green onions, and cilantro.

    • The focus is on the purity of the broth and the quality of the beef. It’s usually less sweet and has fewer herbs than its southern counterpart.

  • Famous Vietnamese pho restaurant in Ha Noi

    • Pho Thin - One of the oldest pho brands in Ha Noi, known for its rich, flavorful broth

      • 61 Dinh Tien Hoang, Ly Thai To Ward, Hoan Kiem District, Ha noi;

      • 1 Hang Tre, Ly Thai To Ward, Hoan Kiem District, Ha noi;

      • 1 Le Van Huu, Pham Dinh Ho ward, Hai Ba Trung district, Ha noi

    • Pho Bat Dan - Famous for its authentic taste and long lines of locals: 49 Bat Dan Street, Ha Noi

    • Pho Vuong - 44 Ngo Thi Nham, Hai Ba Trung District, Ha noi

    • Pho Nho - 27A Huynh Thuc Khang, Ha Noi

  • Price: Around 30,000 - 50,000 VND ($1.5 - $2.5 USD)

Central Vietnam: Pho Hue with a spicy kick

Central Vietnam: Pho Hue with a spicy kick
Central Vietnam: Pho Hue with a spicy kick (Source: Internet)

Central Vietnam, especially in Hue, offers a unique take on Pho that’s spicier and bolder.

  • Main Ingredients:

    • Rich, darker broth made from both beef and pork bones, beef slices, sometimes with added pork, thicker rice noodles, and a generous amount of chili.

    • The broth has a stronger flavor with a noticeable spiciness, influenced by the region’s love for bold and spicy food.

  • Famous Vietnamese pho restaurant in Hue

    • Pho Hanh - Known for its spicy and flavorful broth: 11 Pham Hong Thai, Hue

    • Pho Ong Ta - Offers a traditional taste with a spicy twist: 53 Le Loi, Hue

  • Price: Around 30,000 - 40,000 VND ($1.5 - $2 USD)

Pho Sai Gon with rich and sweet flavors in Southern Vietnam

Pho Sai Gon with rich and sweet flavors in Southern Vietnam
Pho Sai Gon with rich and sweet flavors in Southern Vietnam (Source: Internet)

In the south, particularly in Ho Chi Minh City, Pho is characterized by its sweeter broth and abundance of herbs and garnishes.

  • Main Ingredients:

    • Rich broth with a hint of sweetness, thin slices of beef or chicken, flat rice noodles, bean sprouts, Thai basil, lime wedges, and hoisin and sriracha sauces.

    • The broth is sweeter and richer, and the dish is often accompanied by a platter of fresh herbs and vegetables.

  • Famous Vietnamese pho restaurant in Sai Gon

    • Pho Hoa Pasteur - Famous for its sweet, rich broth and generous portions: 260C Pasteur Street, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City

    • Pho Le - Known for its flavorful broth and tender beef: 413-415 Nguyen Trai, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City

  • Price: Around 40,000 - 60,000 VND ($2 - $3 USD)

Some other special pho variations in Vietnam

Pho Rolls (Pho cuon)

Young, fresh white Pho noodles are rolled with fried meat, pork sausage, tender shrimp, carrots and green vegetables. The "soul" of Pho rolls is the dipping sauce. The sweet and sour dipping sauce is mixed with spices including lemon, garlic, and chili, but it also requires its own secret.

Stir-fried Pho (Pho xao)

There are two types of stir-fried Pho: soft stir-fried Pho and crispy stir-fried Pho. Pho is often stir-fried with tender beef, carrots, onions, then seasoned with a little green onion and fragrant coriander.

Mixed Pho (Pho tron)

Mixed Pho is a harmonious combination of ingredients including: Beef or chicken, fried onions and herbs. The soft white cake is drenched in an extremely rich fish sauce.

Puffed fried Pho (Pho chien phong)

Pho is fried crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, not boring at all. When enjoying, eat a piece of puff pastry with beef and vegetables to feel the difference compared to other Vietnamese Pho dishes.

Sour Pho (Pho chua)

The main ingredients of sour Pho include: Shredded chicken, Pho noodles, sweet potatoes, taro, sausage, char siu, sausage, pork liver and sweet and sour spices. Special mention is the sauce made from sugar vinegar, fish sauce, ginger and fried onions and garlic.

Gia Lai dry Pho (Pho kho Gia Lai)

Thin and chewy Pho noodles are prepared with ingredients such as pork rinds, bean sprouts, fried onions, hoisin sauce, served with beef and a bowl of broth.

Whether you’re slurping down a bowl of clear, aromatic Pho Bac in Hanoi, savoring the spicy kick of Pho Hue in central Vietnam, or enjoying the rich, sweet flavors of Pho Sai Gon in Ho Chi Minh City, each regional variation offers a unique and delicious experience. Pho is more than just a meal; it’s a journey through the culinary heart of Vietnam. So, grab your chopsticks and spoon, and dive into a bowl of Pho on your next visit to Vietnam.

To prepare for your Vietnam trip, explore the world of Vietnamese Banh Mi, Vietnamese Coffee and top 10 must-try Vietnamese traditional food!

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