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The Best Places to Eat an Authentic Pho in Ho Chi Minh

pho

Vietnamese cuisine is influenced a lot by Chinese cuisine, but it is often paired with many herbs. One of the most well-known foods in Vietnamese cuisine is Pho. It might look simple with rice noodles, soup, and slices of beef, but after having Pho in Vietnam, you will have the chance to experience many kinds of Pho that you don’t see very often. In this guide, we will go through different kinds of Pho and places to eat an authentic Pho in Ho Chi Minh City that you would not want to miss when in Vietnam.

The Origin of Pho

To find your authentic Pho, you need to know its origin. It is believed that pho had become an everyday dish for many people in the North since 1954 when the USSR provided aid for Vietnam after the war. There was little meat for the poor at the time, and the French usually took the beef meat to cook dishes and left out bones, so the Vietnamese have learned to use the spare parts to make a great bowl of Pho we know today. The Chinese fried churros usually served with Pho was also a result of the scarcity of food during that time; it was used to fill up the stomach and as an add-in ingredient when there was little meat to eat in the Pho. Pho in the North quickly became popular with people in the South as well, but it was added some more Southern touch. People in the South love herbs, and you will see they use herbs in every dish and in Pho too. But the variety of Pho is not only limited to that of the North and the South; there are more variations to this famous beef noodle soup.

Different Variations of Pho

Vietnam pho northen 1 Vietnam pho chicken 1

The famous Pho we are all familiar with is a bowl of soft, white noodles with fresh juicy beef slices, sprinkled some green onion on top, bathing in the hot beef soup, and accompanied with aromatic herbs. But in Vietnam, Pho is so much more; it is not only the name of the dish but also the name of the noodle, so there are a lot of dishes made from pho that are as delicious as the typical pho soup.

Vietnam pho roll

The variations can be divided geographically or by the way Pho noodle is prepared. There are Northern-style pho and Southern-style pho; in the Central of Vietnam, the flavor of Pho is not much different but usually served with fewer herbs. Northern-style Pho looks simpler and has less fat, but the taste is delicate. Southern-style Pho is served with many more herbs. The ingredients to make the broth is also different; in the North, to keep the broth clear and aromatic, they stew beef bones for as long as possible with roasted ginger, onion, Chinese chives, pepper, sometimes star anise, cinnamon, cilantro root, and peanut worm for more subtle taste. On the other hand, in the South, besides roasted ginger, onion, pepper, they add daikon (white radish), dried squid, beef fat, sweet-sour sauce, and sometimes chicken bones are used instead of beef bones. The green, side dish and dipping sauce for Pho are also different. In the North, green onion, white onion, cilantro, lemon, and chili are used for the greens and occasionally accompanied by Chinese fried churros. While in the South, besides the greens you can find in Northern-style Pho, people also like to add Vietnamese rice paddy herb, sawtooth herb, peppermint, bean sprouts and a side dish of chili sauce. You can check out a good recipe for Pho here.

Beef is the most common meat to put in Pho but in the South, and now some places in the North, they put chicken, beef meatball (bo vien), and poached egg on top. And to be an expert in Pho and to make an impression on your friends, you can choose what kind of beef and how they are done as well, like in a steakhouse.

Some Vietnamese vocabularies you can use on your food tour to enjoy the best pho in Ho Chi Minh City: flank (nam), crunchy flank (ve don), fatty brisket (gau), tendon (gan), tripe (sach), well-done (chin), and rare (tai).

Vietnam pho beef part

If you are a vegetarian, don’t worry, in Vietnamese cuisines, there are places for you to try vegan Pho as well. A lot of greens are used; different kinds of mushrooms and tofu skin are cooked in the broth to replace the bones and meat.

The way Pho noodle is cooked also varies. The noodle can be bathed in a delicious heavy soup, stir-fried or pan-fried. With stir-fried Pho, the meat used is not only beef but pork and shrimp with stir-fried bok choy, bean sprouts, Chinese chives, and fried shallot. It contains a bit more fat than the Pho noodle soup but a flavorful dish you should try. Another variation is Pho noodle pan-fried. They may be served with beef soup or stir-fried beef and of course, Vietnamese herbs.

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Best Pho in Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City is a major economic center in Vietnam; many people from other parts of Vietnam come to the city to look for better opportunities in studying and working. The city has welcomed so many people and their culture that you can easily find foods - especially Pho, of many provinces here. What should you do after hours of sightseeing in Ho Chi Minh City? Fill your stomach with the famous Vietnamese food, Pho. Visit the places we recommend below, try them, and let us know if they have one of the best Pho in Ho Chi Minh City.

Northern-style Pho

Pho Thin Ha Noi

Vietnam pho thin ha noi

Pho tai lan or sautéed rare beef noodle is Pho Thin Ha Noi’s specialty. Beef along with garlic and ginger are sautéed real quick in a big iron pan, put on high heat and then put on top a bowl of pho noodle, and finally, the soup is poured in. Pho Thin has a unique sense of the sautéed beef but not overpowering the other spices in the soup. They also add bean sprouts and thick sweet soy sauce in their Pho to suit the taste of Southern customers. Make sure to mark this place on your list on your Saigon food tour when visiting Ho Chi Minh City.

Address: 170 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, District 3
Opening hours: 7 AM - 2 PM and 4 PM - 10 PM
Price: VND 40,000 - VND 66,000

Pho Cao Van

Vietnam pho cao van

Speaking of Pho Cao Van, many will remember a 90-year-old old man sitting in a corner to collect money. That is the owner Tran Van Phon. He has been selling Pho from his stalls back in Hanoi and then Saigon. His first shop was opened on Tran Cao Van Street in 1952 and later moved to Mac Dinh Chi Street. Many people consider this to be the closest to authentic pho in Ho Chi Minh City. The soup is delicate, rich but doesn’t have much fat.

Address: 25 Mac Dinh Chi Street, District 1
Opening hours: 6 AM - 10:30 PM
Price:VND 40,000 - VND 66,000

Pho Tau Bay

Vietnam pho tau bay

Pho Tau Bay has been running its business in Saigon since 1954 and quickly became popular with people here. The traditional Northern-style Pho isn’t served with bean sprouts and thick sweet soy sauce, but to accompany the taste of South customers, they now also serve herbs in Southern-style Pho. However, the way the Pho cooked is still that of the North. They are most famous for “to xe lua” which is the largest bowl size here.

Address: 433-435 Ly Thai To Street, District 10
Opening hours: 6 AM - 11 AM
Price: VND 40,000 - VND 61,000

Pho Bo Phu Gia

Vietnam pho phu gia

The beef here is also sautéed with spices, so the flavor is richer than the regular rare beef. Like other Pho restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City, Pho Bo Phu Gia has a long history of over 30 years, and it has become the locals' favorite place to eat. The Pho noodle here is fresh and stretchy. It is definitely where you can try the typical Northern-style Pho.

Address: 146E Ly Chinh Thang Street, District 3
Opening hours: 6 AM - 11 AM and 5 PM - 10 PM
Price: VND 35,000 - VND 55,000

 

 

See also: Where to Try the Best pho in Hanoi

Southern-style Pho

Pho Hoa Pasteur

Vietnam pho hoa pasteur

Pho Hoa has been opened for about 50 years, but the history of this brand dates back to before 1975 as a family business. This restaurant is located on the street where there were a lot of Pho stores 50 years ago. And it is not only where people can reminisce about the old days but to enjoy delicious Pho. The unique thing about Pho Hoa is that their portion is always full of Pho noodles, beef, and all kinds of herbs. And you can choose whether to add in your Pho the Chinese fried churros that are placed on every table here.

Address: 260C Pasteur Street, District 1
Opening hours: 7 AM - 10 PM
Price: VND 40,000 - VND 55,000

Pho Le

Vietnam pho le

Another restaurant that serves Southern-style Pho is Pho Le. The store has opened since 1970 in District 5, where there are a lot of other food stores selling noodles, hu tieu, and dumplings. It is clean and decorated nicely to attract more customers. This is where you can practice your newly learned vocabularies: beef meatballs (bo vien), flank (nam), fatty brisket (gau), and a bowl of fat soup (nuoc beo).

Address:
303-305 Vo Van Tan Street, District 3
413-415 Nguyen Trai Street, District 5
Opening hours: 6 AM - 1 AM
Price: VND 38,000 - VND 55,000

Other Pho Variations

Pho Mien Ga Ky Dong (Chicken Pho)

Vietnam pho mien ga ky dong

It has been opened since 1975 and famous for its chicken dishes, from Pho to Mien (clear noodle) and Hu tieu. The chicken here is tender, rich in flavor with shiny golden skin. Each serving is of equal quality, and everyone’s favorite dish at this store must be the tender, juicy chicken thighs.

Address: 14/5 Ky Dong Street, District 3
Opening hours: 5 AM - 12 AM
Price: VND 40,000 - VND 55,000

Pho Chay Nhu (Vegan Pho)

Vietnam pho chay nhu

Pho Chay Nhu is a vegan Pho restaurant that is well-known to not only vegetarians, Buddhists, but also to celebrities. Many kinds of mushrooms are cooked to tender, well-seasoned with slices of tofu skin to create texture to the vegan dish. Besides Pho, you can also get to enjoy many Vietnamese vegan foods here like com tam, spring roll, fried spring roll, and fried wonton. If you are a vegetarian, this place would be your paradise because you can try many types of dishes in their vegan style.

Vietnam pho vegan

Address: 54 Truong Quyen Street, District 3
Opening hours: 6 AM - 10:30 PM
Price: VND 40,000/bowl of vegan pho

Pho Hong - Pho Kho Gia Lai (Dry Pho Noodle)

Vietnam pho kho gia lai

Pho kho is Pho noodles served separately from the soup. The meat is usually pork, beef or shredded chicken. Pho kho is the most famous Pho from Gia Lai province. The soup is rich and sweet which comes from the stewed bones. They are served separately so that the unique taste of each ingredient is not blended; you can feel the softness but also a bit stretchy of the pho noodle, the juiciness of the meat, and the sweetness of the soup. After trying the best of each ingredient, you can put them together as a traditional Pho the way you like it.

Address: 82 Dong Nai, Bac Hai Residential, District 10
Opening hours: 6:30 AM - 2 PM and 5 PM - 10 PM
Price: VND 35,000 - VND 55,000

Pho Chua Lang Son Nguyen Thien Thuat (Sweet and Sour Pho)

Vietnam pho chua nguyen thien thuat

This one is probably the most different variation of Pho; its origin is in Lang Son. The Pho noodle is lightly seasoned and then covered with the sweet and sour sauce made from tamarind. Slices of juicy pork, pounded peanuts, and fried shallot bring a new flavor to the original Pho. Pho Chua Lang Son is a must-try Pho on your food tour in Ho Chi Minh City.

Address: 242/101 Nguyen Thien Thuat Street, District 3
Opening hours: 3:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Price: VND 25,000 - VND 39,000

Bep Nho - Pho Cuon Ha Noi (Pho Rolls)

Vietnam pho cuon bep nho

The wrap is one of the techniques frequently used in Vietnamese cooking; we can use many things for wrapping from banana leaves to rice papers and even eggs. Pho noodles can also be used in this technique instead of the standard rice paper. Inside a thin layer of Pho noodle are tender well-seasoned slices of beef, fresh herbs, garlic, and ginger. Dip this Pho roll in the spicy and sour sauce, and you will not be able to resist the temptation to have more.

Address: 001 Block E Le Thi Rieng Apartment, District 10
Opening hours: 3 PM - 10 PM
Price: VND 20,000 - VND 55,000

Pho Hoang Tung (Beef Pho with Wine Sauce)

Vietnam pho sot vang

Pho bo sot vang is inspired by French cuisines with stew wine sauce. The beef is stewed in the beautiful red wine, bones, butter, and Chinese chive; and then, the traditional broth is added to this elegant stew sauce and makes a new rich and delicate dish. This dish is a perfect combination of Vietnamese cooking and Western cooking that you must try to understand more about the variety of Vietnamese cuisine.

Address: 205 Dinh Tien Hoang Street, District 1
Opening hours: 7 AM - 10 PM
Price: VND 20,000 - VND 55,000

Pho Bac Ha (Pan-fried Pho)

Vietnam pho pan fry

Pho noodle is pan-fried to become crispy all the way through. It is served with stir-fried beef, bok choy, onion, and a special thick sauce. You can either use your chopsticks to pick up and dip the Pho noodle and other ingredients in the fish sauce or wrap them in Chinese mustard leaves and dip in the fish sauce like eating a Vietnamese pancake.

Address: 147 Nguyen Du Street, District 1
Opening hours: 6 AM - 10 PM
Price: VND 60,000/bowl

Summary of the Best places to Eat an Authentic Pho in Ho Chi Minh City

After trying some of these places, you won’t see Pho the same way again; it’s not only a bowl of white noodles with beef slices. Each Pho variation has it owns unique taste, but they are all made from the soft white noodle with slices of well-seasoned meat and aromatic herbs; all are combined to make different kinds of rich and flavorful dishes. If you want to taste the best Pho in Ho Chi Minh City with our local guides, request to try these Pho noodles on our fun and private Saigon food tour.

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Comments

Guest - Chanta Mann on Tuesday, 24 December 2019 23:43

one bowl of Pho Le can keep you full for the whole day. I've always preferred the southern taste to the northern version of pho, even though the origin of the noodles soup is from the north

one bowl of Pho Le can keep you full for the whole day. I've always preferred the southern taste to the northern version of pho, even though the origin of the noodles soup is from the north
Guest - Jolene on Friday, 29 November 2019 00:24

Pho does vary significantly between regions to regions in Vietnam, so make sure to have a bowl of Pho every where you go in Vietnam

Pho does vary significantly between regions to regions in Vietnam, so make sure to have a bowl of Pho every where you go in Vietnam
Guest - Elliot Hughes on Saturday, 05 October 2019 11:37

Pho Hoa is the best place for pho I can think of

Pho Hoa is the best place for pho I can think of
Guest - benjamin sand on Tuesday, 11 June 2019 01:27

I tried MANY of those places in HCMC but the best Pho by a landslide was Pho Quynh. The beef brisket was so tender and good quality and the broth was amazingly rich and delicate.

I tried MANY of those places in HCMC but the best Pho by a landslide was Pho Quynh. The beef brisket was so tender and good quality and the broth was amazingly rich and delicate.
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