1. Which is The Best Pho in Vietnam? - Exploring Different Pho Styles!

Pho Bac (Northern Style)

Different northern pho and southern pho in vietnam
Northern Pho in Vietnam served with "Banh Quay" | Source: Collections.
The typical Northern cuisine is clearly shown in the capital Hanoi - the convergence of Northern dishes. Northerners often cook dishes that are frugal, light, and have a mild sour taste. When enjoying, you will see somewhere the peace of the countryside and gentle traditional culture.
Northern Pho, considered by many as some of the best Pho in Vietnam, is characterized by its clear, light broth with a delicate flavor. The noodles are typically wider and flatter than their southern counterparts, offering a satisfying chewiness. The toppings are also simplified, instead of using various herbs and chili peppers, Northern Pho is often served with "Banh Quay" (crispy fried dough sticks).

Pho Nam (Southern Style)

best pho in ho chi minh city
Southern Pho in Vietnam | Source: Collections.
Southern people's dishes are very simple and less fussy. However, the dishes are no less attractive. People here are also very honest and simple. The dishes here are extremely diverse, and it can be said to vary with sweet, spicy, and fatty flavors.
Southern Pho, another contender for the best Pho in Vietnam, is characterized by its sweeter broth, often combined with a layer of fatty beef broth and a wider array of toppings such as bean sprouts, basil, sawtooth coriander, lime wedges, and chili peppers. The noodles are typically thinner and softer than those in Northern Pho. To enhance the experience, you can add hoisin sauce and chili sauce to your liking, creating a unique and personalized flavor profile.

Ingredient-Based Variations

the best pho in vietnam from north to south
3 Kinds of Pho: I can't decide which is my favorite!  | Source: Collections.

Pho Bo (Beef Pho)

Pho Bo or beef Pho is the most traditional and iconic version of this beloved dish. Among the various types of Pho Bo, each offering a unique taste and texture, some popular choices stand out:
  • Pho Tai: This features thinly sliced raw beef, quickly cooked by the hot broth poured over it. It offers a tender, slightly rare texture.
  • Pho Chin: In this variation, the beef is well-done, resulting in a firmer texture.
  • Pho Nam: This uses flavorful flank steak, known for its balance of leanness and tenderness.
  • Pho Gau: This incorporates fatty brisket, adding richness and a melt-in-your-mouth quality to the dish.
Each type of Beef Pho represents different aspects of beef, and the broth is simmered for many hours with a mixture of aromatic herbs such as star anise, cinnamon and cloves, along with charred onions and ginger, to create a unique aroma. Tender slices of beef, whether rare steak, brisket or meatballs, add satisfying depth and texture.

Pho Ga (Chicken Pho)

If you're looking for a lighter yet equally satisfying alternative to Pho Bo (beef Pho), Pho Ga (chicken Pho) is a perfect choice. Pho Ga is characterized by its clear broth, simmered for hours with chicken bones, ginger, onions, and aromatic herbs. You can choose between tender poached chicken thighs or shredded chicken - both of which pair beautifully with chewy rice noodles.

Pho Chay (Vegetarian Pho)

Pho Chay offers a healthy alternative for vegetarians and vegans, or anyone seeking a light and wholesome Vietnamese dish. The broth of Pho Chay is simmered with mushrooms such as shiitake and straw mushrooms, along with carrots, tofu, and various other vegetables.
Pho Chay exemplifies the versatility of Vietnamese cuisine, showcasing how a traditional dish can be adapted to cater to different dietary preferences without compromising on flavor or satisfaction.
Whether you prefer the clear, delicate broth of Northern Pho or the rich, flavorful profile of Southern Pho, there's a Pho for everyone. From the traditional Pho Bo with its nuanced beef variations, to the lighter Pho Ga, and even the wholesome Pho Chay, each type of Pho highlights the culinary richness of Vietnam. This journey through the different Pho styles not only showcases the best Pho in Vietnam but also celebrates Vietnam's vibrant and adaptable cuisine.
For vegan travelers seeking to savor the diverse flavors of Vietnam, Pho Chay is just the beginning. Ho Chi Minh City boasts a thriving vegan food scene, and a vegan food tour is the perfect way to explore its hidden gems. From bustling street food stalls to charming vegan restaurants, you'll discover a plethora of plant-based delights that go far beyond the traditional Pho.

3. Must-Visit Pho restaurants in Vietnam

Famous Pho in Hanoi (Northern Vietnam)

Pho Bat Dan

pho bat dan is the best pho in Ha Noi
This pho restaurant seems to be a local favorite in Hanoi.  | Source: Collections.

Pho Bat Dan has been serving up steaming bowls of Pho for nearly a century.

  • Address: 49 Bat Dan, Hoan Kiem district, Hanoi
  • Google rating: 4.3 stars
  • Highlights: Pho Bo Tai Nam is a delightful combination of rare beef and tender brisket in a rich, flavorful broth with perfectly cooked noodles. This Pho restaurant also offers a variety of enticing side dishes, including beef jerky and crispy fried dough sticks.
  • Price range: VND 50,000-70,000 (~ $2.17-$3.05)
  • Opening hours: 06:00 AM – 10:00 AM and 6:00 PM – 8:30 PM

Pho Thin 

Pho Thin, is a famous family-run “Pho” restaurant on the southern edge of Hanoi's French Quarter that opened in 1979.
  • Address: 13 Lo Duc, Hai Ba Trung district, Hanoi.
  • Google rating: 4.1 stars
  • Highlights: Pho Bo Tai Lan, featuring tender slices of rare beef cooked to perfection and served with a fiery chili sauce. In addition to their famous Pho, the restaurant also offers a selection of delectable stir-fried beef dishes, including the popular "Bo Luc Lac" (shaking beef noodles).
  • Price range: VND 60,000-80,000 ($2.60-$3.48)
  • Opening hours: 6:00 AM-10:00 PM

Pho Ly Quoc Su

Pho Ly Quoc Su is a famous pho in Hanoi
Pho Ly Quoc Su is a beloved destination for Pho lovers  | Source: Collections.
Nestled in the heart of Hanoi, Pho Ly Quoc Su is a beloved destination for Pho lovers. Their extensive menu showcases a wide array of Pho variations, including rare steak, tendon, and everything in between, ensuring a satisfying experience for all tastes.
  • Address: 10 Ly Quoc Su, Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
  • Google rating: 4.1 stars
  • Highlights: At Pho Ly Quoc Su, the broth takes center stage, captivating diners with its complex flavors and aromas. However, it's not just the soup that shines; the beef is consistently fresh and tender, and the crispy cruller sticks (quẩy) perfectly complement the steaming bowl of noodles.
  • Price range: VND 60,000-85,000 (~ $2.56 – $3.62)
  • Opening hours: 6:00 AM to 2:00 PM and 5:30 PM to 10 PM.

The Best Pho in Saigon (Southern Vietnam)

Pho Hoa Pasteur in Ho Chi Minh

the best pho in saigon southern vietnam
Pho Hoa has captured the hearts and palates of generations of locals and visitors alike. | Source: Collections.
Pho Hoa, a Saigon institution since 1968, is renowned for its authentic Pho that has captured the hearts and palates of generations of locals and visitors alike.
  • Address: 260C, Pasteur Street, Ward 8, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Google rating: 4.2 stars
  • Highlights: Experience a symphony of textures and flavors with premium beef toppings, including melt-in-your-mouth brisket, tender flank, and more.
  • Price range: VND 40,000-90,000 (~ $1.71 – $3.84)
  • Opening hours:  5:30 AM – 10:30 PM

Pho Le in Saigon

pho le is a best in sai gon
Pho Le is a Saigon institution, famous for its delicious pho | Source: Collections.
With a rich history of over 70 years, Pho Le is a renowned establishment celebrated for serving some of the Famous Pho in Ho Chi Minh
Address
  • 413 – 415, Nguyen Trai Street, Ward 7, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City
  •  303 – 305, Vo Van Tan Street, Ward 5, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City
Google rating: 4.1 stars
Highlights: I recommend the Pho Nam (or Pho Tai Nam), where the star is the incredibly tender and flavorful beef flank (referred to as "brisket" on their English menu).
Price range: VND 20,000-75,000 (~ $1.71 – $2.35)
Opening hours:  6:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Pho Phu Vuong

famous pho restaurant in saigon
The restaurant's highlights are its elegant ambiance and English-speaking staff.  | Source: Collections.
Seeking refuge from Saigon's scorching summer temperatures? Pho Phu Vuong, with its cool and inviting air-conditioned interior, offers the perfect respite alongside a delicious bowl of pho.
  • Address: 333, Le Van Sy Street, Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Google rating: 4.1 stars
  • Highlights: The restaurant's highlights are its elegant ambiance and English-speaking staff. Bowls of Pho satisfy diners with their rich and flavorful broth, which also has a delicate sweetness.
  • Price range: VND 50,000 - 80,000 (~ $2.13 – $3.41)
  • Opening hours:  7.00 AM– 1.00 PM and 5.00 PM– 9.30 PM

3. Tips on Ordering the Best Pho in Vietnam

Ordering Pho in Vietnam is an adventure in itself, but don't worry, it's easier than you think! I'll guide you through the steps of ordering Pho:
First, you need to choose your type of Pho based on your favorite ingredients. As I mentioned, there are three types of Pho: Pho Bo (Beef Pho), Pho Ga (Chicken Pho), and Pho Chay (Vegetarian Pho). You can order depending on your taste and preferred ingredients.
Next, you need to select your meat:
  • For Pho Bo, you have options like rare beef Pho (Pho Tai), well-done beef Pho (Pho Chin), flank steak Pho (Pho Nam), brisket Pho (Pho Gau), or special beef Pho (Pho Dac Biet).
  • For Pho Ga, you can choose between shredded chicken Pho (Pho Ga Xe) or poached chicken thigh Pho (Pho Dui Ga Luoc).
Finally, to enhance your journey to the best Pho in Vietnam, consider ordering side dishes like "banh quay" (crispy fried dough sticks), "trung tran" (soft-boiled eggs), and other toppings that complement the flavors of your chosen Pho.

4. Enhancing Your Pho with Condiments

In addition to the main components of pho, a variety of accompaniments are essential to complete the experience. Table sauces are a staple at most Pho restaurants, offering options like fiery chili sauce (tuong ot), savory hoisin sauce, pungent fish sauce, and tangy lime or lemon wedges
To truly enjoy the best Pho in Vietnam, diners can customize their bowls with these sauces to their liking, adding heat, depth of flavor, or a citrusy kick. Alongside the sauces, a plate of fresh herbs is typically provided, featuring fragrant basil, vibrant cilantro, and the slightly bitter sawtooth herb (ngo gai). These herbs not only contribute their unique aromas and tastes but also add a refreshing element to the dish. 
For those who like their Pho on the spicier side, chili peppers are often available. These can be fresh or pickled, and diners can add them directly to their soup or mix them with the sauces for an extra kick.

5. Discover Delicious Dishes Beyond the Famous Pho in Ho Chi Minh Through Food Tours

discover delicious dishes beyond the famous pho in Ho Chi Minh through food tours
Delicious dishes beyond the famous pho in Ho Chi Minh through food tours | Source: Collections.
Vietnamese cuisine is a vibrant tapestry of flavors, and while finding the best Pho in Vietnam is a must for any food lover, it's just the beginning of your culinary adventure. From the crispy, flavorful Banh Mi filled with savory meats to the fragrant grilled pork patties of Bun Cha, each dish is a window into Vietnam's rich regional traditions and culinary ingenuity.
For those seeking the taste of the sea, fresh seafood dishes such as Banh Canh Cua (noodle soup with crab), Cha Gio(fried spring rolls), Goi Cuon (fresh spring rolls) or Banh Xeo (savory pancakes) are must-tries. And don't forget sweet dishes like Che; a colorful dessert soup with a variety of fillings like beans, fruit and jelly. 
To fully immerse yourself in the vibrant tapestry of Vietnamese cuisine, we invite you to join our Saigon Food Tour. Our expert guides will lead you through bustling markets, hidden alleyways, and local eateries, where you'll savor authentic dishes and uncover the stories behind them.

6. Pho and Coffee - A Match Made in Vietnamese Breakfast Heaven

discover the best Pho and Coffee in Vietnam
Pho and Vietnamese Coffee are an iconic Vietnamese breakfast
Finding the best Pho in Vietnam is only half the culinary adventure. Pho and Vietnamese Coffee (Ca Phe Sua Da) are an iconic Vietnamese breakfast pairing, a match made in culinary heaven. The savory warmth of Pho complements the refreshing sweetness of iced coffee, creating a harmonious balance that awakens both palate and spirit. Whether enjoyed at a bustling street-side stall or a charming café, this beloved duo embodies Vietnam's rich culinary heritage and its appreciation for simple yet exquisite flavors.
With the insights shared in this article, I hope you've gained a deeper understanding of Vietnamese Pho and are ready to discover the best Pho in my country. From the bustling streets of Hanoi to the vibrant markets of Ho Chi Minh City, your journey to find the best Pho in Vietnam will be an unforgettable experience. I can't wait to welcome you to my beautiful country and share the rich flavors and traditions of our cuisine!
Author: Vy

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