Jump to content
Thai Visa Forum

Pho - What Am I Missing?


RuamRudy

Recommended Posts

The first time I tasted Pho was in Ho Chi Minh, in the restaurant made famous for Bill Clinton having dined there. Having read about this amazing soup prior to my trip, I was eager to try it. I can only describe it as a big bowl of disappointment: a thin, watery bouillon filled with insipid veggies and chewy, tasteless slices of meat. I was utterly baffled as to why people rave about it. 

 

Thinking that this may have been an unfortunate outlier, I have tried Pho in a variety of restaurants in several countries, but always came away with the same feeling that pho is simply the emperor's new clothes of soup. This morning, on the way to my office, I saw a billboard advertising a local restaurant with the banner headline 'Pho - the World Famous Vietnamese Soup!'. 

 

Give me a thick, unctuous ramen, some spicy tom yum, a hearty bulalo or a delicate consomme any day - but why is Pho up there with the great soups of the world? 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've had pho all over VN and it never tastes the same, but usually it's pretty good...it's all how you make the broth, I like noodles for breakfast...in this regard tom yum would be unsuitable as the broth is undrinkable...unless one enjoys death by fire during their next bowel movement...

 

and pho is wholesome, unlike mie ayam in Indonesia that's addictive...if ye miss yer breakfast noodles in that place yer whole day is ruined...

 

in VN when yer on the go ye can substitute with a banh mi sandwich and do OK...folks in VN are big on resilience, fer breakfast and otherwise...

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, tutsiwarrior said:

I've had pho all over VN and it never tastes the same, but usually it's pretty good...it's all how you make the broth, I like noodles for breakfast...in this regard tom yum would be unsuitable as the broth is undrinkable...unless one enjoys death by fire during their next bowel movement...

 

and pho is wholesome, unlike mie ayam in Indonesia that's addictive...if ye miss yer breakfast noodles in that place yer whole day is ruined...

 

in VN when yer on the go ye can substitute with a banh mi sandwich and do OK...folks in VN are big on resilience, fer breakfast and otherwise...

 

 

I must confess to liking the healthy aspect of all the fresh veggies - I feel less guilty about ordering deep fried spring rolls if I have a bowl of pho alongside it. Maybe my palate is simply not refined enough to appreciate the subtlety though. Without wishing to sound like George from Australian Masterchef, I like big, bold flavours - maybe pho is too nuanced for me...

 

Thanks for the tip about mie ayam - a new one for me to seek out.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I eat it pretty regular when I'm in SoCal. Good beef broth, noodles, rooster sauce and oyster sauce. I like it with rare steak.


If you haven't tried the Filipino soup, bulalo, I thoroughly recommend it. This is a thin but very intense beef broth, often served with a big hunk of incredibly tender, flavoursome beef on the bone within it. It usually comes with a leafy vegetable similar to pak choi and some corn on the cob.
Link to post
Share on other sites

I love Pho but have yet to have really good Pho in Thailand. I think it's available some places in Bangkok and C.M. though. 

Not sure how to explain the love.

It's bloody delicious. You know it when you taste it.

The broth needs the long cooking flavor with the Viet spices and if too bland you spice it up with chilies and dipping sauces for the meat. 

When visiting the U.S. I'm eager to eat Pho ASAP! 

Odd living in S.E. Asia and missing a food from S.E. Asia. 

I love tom yum too but if I was living in a place with really good tom yum and really good Pho and some angry food God said I'd have to limit myself to only one for life, I'd choose the Pho! (And cheat with sinigang.)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Pho is one of my favorite foods and I truly miss it here in Pattaya.  I tried a few places that advertised their noodle soup as being Pho - but it's not the same.  Also, in most places here they serve it with the Thai condiments - not the Vietnamese condiments that I prefer, which adds greatly to the flavor IMO.  This is Hoisen sauce and Sriracha chili sauce.  Most of my experience with Pho has been in VN restaurants in USA including in the VN enclaves of Orange County, CA and Houston, Tx.  Likewise, at the homes of many of my VN friends in USA. 

 

I also had it in VN - not as good IMO. Several of my VN friends have also mentioned their disappointment with Pho when they have visited VN. I attribute this to the quality of the ingredients not being the same.  I keep Hoisen sauce and Sriracha Chile sauce at home and use it as condiments for Thai noodle soup when I have take out. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Pho should be rich and flavorful with the hints of anise and broth made from simmering bones for hours and hours. It usually has a high salt/msg content which may have been what's missing in the ones you tasted...that really snaps the flavor out.

 

Also you are intended to augment it with hoisin and chile sauce before tucking in.

 

I miss it...time for a trip 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've eaten pho in pho restaurants in Anaheim, many, many times in pho places in Seattle, and in Hanoi, and the only place I've found in Thailand that matches the taste is Pho Anh in Chiang Mai.  This restaurant knows how to make pho!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Lots of Vietnamese emigrated to America during the war. Very good VN food. I like the rolls in rice paper(I've seen different names), pho and love a good bahn mi as I especially like crunchy things.

 

Also lots of Flips in America but never tried that soup. Sounds good.

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/10/2017 at 6:09 AM, thehelmsman said:

I eat it pretty regular when I'm in SoCal. Good beef broth, noodles, rooster sauce and oyster sauce. I like it with rare steak.

If you get back to SoCal and find yourself in Ventura county, go try Pho Saigon in Port Hueneme.  Our family fav for over 15 years and we know pho.  The broken rice plates are also yummy and fresh/deep fried rolls are pretty good.  Ask for Jimmy and say "Hi!" from Chiang Mai Lee.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm guessing the OP didn't add any chillies or other bits to the Pho they tried, every Vietnamese restaurant I've ever been to they've given fresh chillies so you can make your Pho as spicy as you like.

This is how you eat Pho

A Pho Primer

Resist the urge to dive into your bowl of pho immediately after it is placed in front of you. A little patience and adherence to the following will enhance and enlighten your pho experience.

 

Step One: Season your pho
Lift your spoon and sample the steamy broth. Mmmm. If the broth is a little bland, add a dash of fish sauce. Not too much, just a little at first and more if you need it. Next, add a sprinkle of black pepper and squeeze an entire wedge of lime into your bowl.

 

Step Two: Add herbs and sprouts
Add about a handful of beansprouts to your pho. Use your chop-sticks to push them down to the bottom of the bowl. Make sure to submerge any pieces of rare beef that are still pink as well. Next, add 10-12 leaves of Thai Basil to your bowl after removing them from the stems. If your pho restaurant serves saw herb, tear 2-3 of them into one inch long pieces and place them in the pho as well. Add 3-4 slices of serrano chili if you enjoy your pho spicy. Alternately, keep the serrano chili to the side for later use.

 

Step Three: Prepare for dipping
Squeeze some hoisin sauce and sriracha chili into a small saucer. A 50/50 split is recommended, but use less sriracha if you are sensitive to spicy foods. Mix the two sauces together where they meet along the border using the tip of your chopsticks. Take a taste of your creation.

At this point some like to add a splash of hoisin or sriracha chili to the broth. Purists frown on this practice, but to each his own.

 

Step Four: Time to eat
You are now ready to enjoy your pho! Use your chopsticks and spoon to evenly mix all the ingredients in your bowl. Pair pieces of beef with Thai basil, saw herb or a slice of serrano chili - dip into the hoisin sauce / siracha chili mixture you made in Step Three. Don't forget to sip the broth in between bites of noodles and beef. Enjoy!

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've only had Pho one time in Vietnam. It was in Hanoi at a famous shop but Northern style of course. I prefer the Southern style more typically served in the U.S. but I wouldn't kick that Hanoi Pho out of bed either!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Pho is  Hanoi dish. Anywhere else they are serving just noodle soup.

 

My favourite version is Pho Bo where very thin slices of beef are added to boiling water with noodles and are instantly cooked along. The bowl is served with a veritable forrest of fresh herbs - you tear as much of the herbs (mint, basil etc) into pieces and submerge them in the hot soup, thereby ensuring no wandering bacteria survive. Tearing the herbs releases their taste into the soup. For the Vietnamese, the herbs also serve as medicine (in Vietnam, most local food is medicine)

 

You then have a row of condiments to choose from, marinated garlic, fish sauce and several others.

 

Go to Hanoi and get the real pho!

Link to post
Share on other sites

We too had pho in that infamous HCMC restaurant, but I don't recall it being either earth shattering or distasteful.

 

The Hoi An noodles however, in Hoi An, were spectacular.

 

If you've never tried the very spicy Thai soup 'cow soy' (apologise for the spelling), the Chiang Rai version, not the Chiang Mai effort, you haven't lived! Happily my wife makes one of the best examples of this I've ever tasted - who's a lucky chap!

Link to post
Share on other sites
Wow, that looks appetising! Bit far from Thailand though...

A fusiony U.S thing they do is to include jalapeños on the plate of stuff they serve on a plate to be added to the broth. Works really well.
Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, bberrythailand said:

Totally agree ! the most useless viet food. Just like the similar soup in laos.

 

 

Oh, please don't talk about soup in Laos, please. I was having this soup and my missus said to me if you look carefully there is a small piece of plaster in the soup.  The cook cut his finger this morning?

From then on, I always say to all restaurants waiters , "Skip the soup, you understand?, no?, don't give me soup, just bring the plate of the day ok?"

I said to my missus, "wipe that smile off your face".

Link to post
Share on other sites

Had a delicious bowl of Phở in Ho Chi Minh City, VN at Pho 2000. Added Sriracha Hot Chili sauce and Hoisin sauce, tasty vegetables and the day was history. Highly recommend the restaurant.

1016454_10152425680622844_5385529923117670858_n.jpg

10457406_10152425680467844_8741996075260402842_o.jpg

10699872_10152425679927844_6956815724160478781_o.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites

Agree with the OP. I've had pho bo in Hanoi, points south including Australia. The taste is underwhelming.

Give me a good pea and ham soup, or tempura ramen any day. The gumbo they make in New Orleans also.

Link to post
Share on other sites

never did see any hoisin or sriracha sauce as condiments for pho in VN but I only been back recently after 7 years...the pho at the hotel breakfast buffet in Hanoi was pedestrian, OK broth and noodles but only limes and chiles to add...didn't have none at the hotel in Ha Tinh, mostly western contractors staying there...

 

maybe the sriracha/hoisin is more common presently in the south? never saw any when I worked there in 2006...maybe something to do with the US - south VN connection?

 

can't deny that things are constantly changing...even condiments fer the pho...

 

(Heraclitus looks at the condiments and sez: 'yesee? whaddid I tell ye?...')

 

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...