Pho in Hanoi, Viet Nam

Pho in Hanoi is passionate countless number of Hanoian generations and visitors as well. Pho Hanoi can be overwhelming with its mix of smells and tastes but it’s well worth exploring. This is one of the freshest, healthiest and most flavorful dishes all over world. Pho generally has become the favorite dish for breakfast and dinner in Hanoi, and across Vietnam. 

Pho is a popular and favorite noodle soup of Vietnam. Its origin is thought to coincide with the French colonial period, which started in the late 1800s. Pho is regardes as the Vietnam’s unofficial national dish. It might look like a run-of-the-mill noodle soup. But the flavors and the history is as diversified and complex as the country itself.

Many Vietnamese food professionals believe pho is a unique adaptation of pot in the fire (“pot au feu”), introduced during the French colonial period in the late 1800s.

Nowadays in Vietnam, everyone eats Pho from sunrise to sunset. Neighborhood food stalls, pushcarts, restaurants, and fancy bistros serve up steaming bowls to workers, professionals, schoolchildren, and seniors alike.

The main ingredients of Pho are simple: flat rice noodles in a rich beef or chicken stock. However, it is not easy to creat the complex flavors of the perfect broth. The broth must be clear for both pho ga (with chicken) and pho bo (with beef).

For Pho Bo broth, the chef use cartilaginous, marrow-rich beef bones are left to simmer in a cloth bag for at least 8 hours. The foam and grease are removed.
For Pho Ga broth, the chicken carcass is simmered in shorter time, for about three hours.

Fresh onions and gingers are roasted over an open flame before they are added to flavor the broth. Many types of other spices may become parts of the mix, comprising cardamom, a dash of fish sauce, star anise, fennel and coriander.

Pho is usually served along with fresh red chilies, chili sauce, sliced lime, Thai basil and bean sprouts. These condiments are served on the side so that seasoning is an individual choice.

Pho noodles have to be produced by the highest quality fragrant rice: very white in color and a little sticky. Fresh noodles have a slightly sour taste and are painstakingly produced in home workshops.

To affirm the position and role of Pho in Vietnamese culinary daily life, we would like to quote some comments of Nguyen Thanh Van, the executive sous chef at the Hanoi Metropole Hotel:

“Pho is like the soul of our people. It is our heritage"“From the moment our feet first touch the earth, our parents take us, with the whole family, to a pho shop. And even when we’re sick, old, and bedridden, we will be served steaming pho by our [loved ones].”“When we travel abroad, we miss our pho like we miss a person”


Here are 5 places to taste or learn about pho in Hanoi:

1. Pho Thin

This eatery, located alongside peaceful Hoan Kiem Lake, right in the heart of Hanoi Old Quarter, defines “hole in the wall” with its dark dining room, stainless-steel tabletops and wooden benches. But the broth is redolent of smoky ginger and the noodles absorb its flavor without becoming mushy. Opened in 1949, the shop is now run by the founder’s eldest son, who closely guards the family recipe.

2. Pho Ly Quoc Su
Located at 10 Ly Quoc Su in the Old Town, Pho #10 is crowded with families, couples, and singles, and is consistently cited as the place to find cheap, fresh pho. Inside the garish orange façade are bubbling vats of aromatic stock and cold beers to welcome foodies.  

3. 49 Bat Dan Street

Recommended by locals as the “best beef pho” in Hanoi, expect a long line and sit on a squat child-size plastic stool on the street. This is the kind of pho a Vietnamese grandmother would take all day to prepare.

4. Noodle Village tours

Located 12 miles south of Hanoi, Cu Da Village makes the white and yellow noodles used in many noodle dishes and in fried spring rolls. A private guide can arrange a tour of small home-based rice-noodle workshops to see families churning out handmade pho noodles.

5. Pho Gia Truyen

Locals form a long queue every morning at Pho Gia Truyen, the most famous place in Hanoi Old Quarter for a delicious bowl of Pho Bo.

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