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The Best Pho in Vietnam?

With thousands of pho shops across Vietnam, determining the best in the country seems like an impossible task. In fact, for any Vietnamese food, we would hesitate to crown a restaurant 'best of' since the zenith of any given dish could lie deep a winding alley. But this didn’t stop food writer, Joe Ray, from trying to nail down the best pho in Saigon and Hanoi in a recent piece for the Wall Street Journal.

Though no one can be sure where pho’s roots lie (France? China? Nam Dinh?), is a decidedly northern dish in origin. Akin to the ‘best’ pizza debate in the US where Chicago and New York jockey for position (New York wins, hands down), some Hanoi pho purists refuse to acknowledge what they perceive to be a bastardized version of their regional specialty. In the 1940s, Vietnamese writer, Thach Lam, wrote, "Pho is a particular gift of Hanoi, not because only Hanoi has it, but because only in Hanoi is pho delicious."

Leaving the ‘best pho’ debate by the wayside for a moment, Joe does a great job of describing the similar but distinctly different pho scenes in Hanoi and Saigon. In Hanoi’s Old Quarter, the soup is served mainly with beef in a clear broth with few add-ins, apart from scallions and chives. Down south, we take the ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ approach, adding fistfuls of herbs, sauces and veggies.

So what was Joe’s conclusion? That Saigon has the best pho, of course! While he appreciated the purity of the northern version, the South’s creative spin on the dish put it over the top.

Here are his ‘best’ pho lists:


The Crowd Pleaser: Pho Lê - 413-415 Nguyen Trai 

The Mega Meal: Pho Hoa Pasteur - 260C Pasteur

The Bubba Bowl: Pho 2000 - 1-3 Phan Chu Trinh

The Drive-by: Pho Tau Bay - 433-435 Ly Thai To

The Pop-Up Spot: No Name - 7 Nguyen Thai Binh



The Early Riser: Pho Gia Truyen - 49 Bat Dan

The Meat-Lover's Soup: Pho Vui - 25 Hang Giay


What do you think of these picks? Do you have a nomination for the best pho in Saigon? If so, leave it in the comments below!


Related Articles:

- Pho Real? Wassup Pham

- London Restaurant Trademarks ‘Pho.’ Social Media Battle Ensues.

- Phở-Flavored Cocktail Makes Its Debut. Seriously.

[WSJ // Photo via sapuche

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