What to eat
The national anthem of Vietnam cuisine is no doubt Pho. There hardly is any more famous Vietnamese dish than this hearty, warm soup. The Vietnamese has brought with them to Australia, France, Eastern Europe and America the recipes of Pho making it an internationally recognized comfort food. Of course, in nowhere Pho tastes as good as its allegedly hometown- Hanoi.
There have been many theories on the origin of Pho which is so debatable that it can ignite a verbal war among keen foodies. Yet, it is out of question that Hanoi is the place where Pho is most embraced and elevated to tremendous improvisation.
The most authentic call of Pho is Pho Bo (Beef Pho). Vietnamese spend hours creating a pure and hearty broth packed with umami flavor and spices. The beef bone is simmered with a mysterious ratio of cardamom, clove, star anise and a hint of the pricey local sea mollusk. The broth should be flavorful yet contain no impurities. Rice noodles and boiled beef are placed as topping. The noodle is covered with the bubbling hot broth. Some more scallions and cilantro. Then you are ready to dig in. The first sip will wake all your senses. It dawns on you why they make such a fuss about the broth. A good Pho store will specialize in only one dish and some others with little variations as they are passionate about making the best only. Thus it is the case when you can only order beef Pho and chicken Pho from two different vendors. Here are some addresses for you to note on.
Pho Suong- Beef
Dinh Liet Street
Located at the heart of the Old Quarter –just a short walk from Ho Guom, Pho Suong has been a beloved spot of the locals. It retains the authentic flavor of Pho without any changes for decades. Their signature soup is beef. You can order the well-done or the medium-rare version.
Yen Ninh Street
Sometimes referred as the most expensive chicken Pho shop in town, Pho Cham makes the best chicken soup from free-range chicken. However, its frequent patrons could not agree more that it is worth the price which is actually only $3. You may need a little bit of venture as the shop is at the edge of the Old Quarter. A good taxi motorbike can take you there in a blink though. Also, they only open in the morning.
Pho 24-The everything but all
Everywhere at the commercial spots
I do not have any prejudice against this international chain of Pho. However, as the number 1 rule in eating authentic Vietnamese food states that the food is only authentically delicious when the shops look packed and rundown, the slick appearance of Pho 24 put me in doubt about its food. It is true that they uphold higher standard of hygiene and presentation, their food, however, is not as good as other rundown places. Do not lose your heart though, they still cater okay Pho which beginners can not tell the difference from the best.
Pho Huong Mai- Fried and Rolled Pho
Ngu Xa Street
These are two new-born of the Pho family. They are very progressive versions and make the fame only well half a decade. The rolled Pho makes a good beer snack meanwhile fried Pho is everyone’s sweet heart. The crunchy and crispy texture soaked in a rich sauce will certainly blow your mind.