No matter what time day or night, a steaming bowl of pho noodle soup is never hard to find in Vietnam. Just as pad thai in Thailand, pho is Vietnam’s unofficial national dish exported with pride all over the world.
Pho consists of flat rice noodles in a light, meat-based broth. The dish is usually accompanied by basil, lime, chili, and other extras on the side so that eaters can season the soup to their own taste.
The balanced tastes of sweet, salty, spicy, and citrus are highly contagious; pho usually becomes an instant favorite for anyone visiting Vietnam!
Pronounced something like “fuuuh” with a drawn-out vowel, it is difficult for Westerners to say correctly because of the tone. Luckily, it is easier to eat than to pronounce.
Traditionally, pho noodle soup was eaten by Vietnamese people for breakfast and sometimes lunch, however both locals and foreigners alike can be found hunched over steaming bowls of pho at street carts throughout the night.
Some squeamish eaters may balk at authentic pho which is made from beef bones, tendons, tripe (stomach), fat, and sometimes ox tail. Bones and lesser-quality cuts of meat are simmered for hours to produce the soup broth. With pho’s popularity, many chain restaurants catering to tourists now omit ingredients that may frighten business away. Broth is commonly made from beef, pork, or chicken bones; only lean pieces of meat are added.
To keep up with the eating trends of tourists, vegetarian and tofu, it can now be found in big cities such as Hanoi, Hue, and Ho Chi Minh City.