Just as China has dimsum, Japan has sushi or Italy has spaghetti, Vietnam has pho as the soul and symbol of Vietnamese cuisine and left a deep impression to foreign visitors.
Generally, Pho (/fʌ/, /fə/, /fər/, or /foʊ/), is a nutritious Vietnamese soup made with beef or chicken broth, rice noodles and a few herbs.
Pho came into existence in North Vietnam in the early 20th century. In mid 1950s, Northerners bringed pho to Southerners who then modified the specialty by adding more flavoring agents such as bean sprout, fresh herbs and other spices.
In 2013, Pho was recognized as Asian records by the Asian Record Organization. Now it is ranked 28th as one of the “World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods” complied by CNN.
People eat pho at any time of day and throughout the year, as a breakfast, lunch, dinner or even in midnight after a party.
Pho in HCMC is served in many specialized restaurants as well as in chains of big & well-known brand names. Let’s find down some best places to have true pho in HCMC.
Pho Huong Binh
[148 Vo Thi Sau Street, District 3]
For over 30 years, pho Huong Binh is one of the best known chicken pho in HCMC. The Pho’s aroma here can be smelled from across the street.
Pho Huong Binh has both beef and chicken broth which gets simmered for hours to make sure all the juice from the bones comes out.
A tasty bowl of chicken pho is the combination of generous amounts shredded chicken meat and soft noodles. This generous-sized bowl only cost you ~3$.
Pho Tau Bay
[433 Ly Thai To Street, District 10]
Long time ago there are a quote about top places to eat pho from old Saigonese: “Nhất Công Lý, nhì Tàu Thủy, tam Tàu Bay”, which means “First Cong Ly, second Tau Thuy, third Tau Bay”.
The name “Tau Bay” came from a story about a worker with an old pilot’s hat who moved from the North to the South.
Now this brand split into 2 shops owned by the two brothers, having same brand and same flavor quality.
The ultimate choice is the Special Pho, which having all-in-one: beef, soft tendon, brisket, tripe, and even beef meatballs. The broth is simple and traditional.
The best way to try beef meatballs: deep it into hoisin sauce mixed with chili sauce, or sate sauce.
[288/M1 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, District 3]
Although Pho Dau located in a small alley on the way to the airport, it’s always crowded. Pho Dau is well-known as one of the greatest real authentic pho in Northern style.
This 50-year-old multigenerational brand found by Mrs. Dậu in 1958 when moving to Saigon from Nam Dinh – where this famous Vietnamese dish was born. Most of customers here are middle- aged who comes there to go back in time.
If Southern style pho uses more flavoring agents (i.e. cinnamon, rock sugar, ginger, etc.), Northern style pho uses minimal star anise and typically tastes less sweet with strictly served without vegetables or hoisin sauce.
A perfect Northern pho here is a combination of the rare beef which is perfectly tender and tasting equally well with clear and extremely delicious broth, blend finely with a dose of softened green onions and cilantro.
Pho Phu Gia
[146E Ly Chinh Thang Street, District 5]
Another Northern style pho shop, this small place located at a crowded street with reasonable price.
30 years ago, the grandfather of the current owner was the person who cooked pho for Pho Phu Gia Restaurant in Hanoi in the French domination.
Pho Phu Gia serves pho in a very conservative way to keep exactly the Northern traditional: clear and simple broth, no many spices or flavours, no fresh herbs or hoisin cause.
[63/16 Pasteur Street, District 1]
This 60-year-old little restaurant is hidden in a small alley on Pasteur Street.
Pho Minh, well-known as Pho Minh Casino, ’cause it was next to the famous Casino, was very popular in 1950s and had a fair share of patrons included celebrities and politicians that time.
Tran Minh is the restaurant’s founder. In 1920, Minh and his siblings moved from Hanoi to HCMC then opened his own brand.
Pho Minh’s broth is stewed many times using wood, instead of gas. It’s so delicious that people often jokes “slurp to the last drop“.
Nowadays people comes to Pho Minh not only for this delicious dish but also for enjoying the historical atmosphere.
Find these places on map here: