It is my 3rd day in Vietnam.
For the past 2 days and most of today, I was in Ho Chi Minh. Obviously, I’ve been exploring the city and going on the touristy tours, but I’m honestly here for one thing: food.
I think exploring and tasting different foods is the best and quickest way to become locally immersed into a country’s culture. In America, all I knew about Vietnam’s food was spring rolls, pho, and bun cha. I knew that there was a lot more I didn’t know about Vietnamese food simply because it had not made its way over to where I live.
The next few days will be a series in which I talk about a specific dish that I’ve eaten since I’ve been here. The first will be, as cliché as it is, pho.
Most people in the States have consumed pho at least once. It’s been a recently increasingly popular dish, and Vietnamese restaurants are now popping out quite regularly. Pho, pronounced phuh, is a noodle soup made from a beef or chicken broth and topped with bean sprouts and various herbs, such as coriander (cilantro) and Thai basil.
When asking the locals for their food recommendations, they would often list a few dishes I’ve never heard of and end with, “Don’t try pho. Try other dishes.” And while I have heeded their advice, it seemed a shame to not try the dish that was the catalyst for my wanting to learn more about Vietnamese cuisine. I also wanted to compare the “authentic” version of pho to the perhaps more Americanized version I have eaten in the States.
It’s currently rainy season in Vietnam, and for me, rainy season always calls for a bowl of hot noodles. I made my way over to Phở Hòa Pasteur at the recommendation of my hotel and Google.
I ordered the well-done brisket pho, large size. In literally three minutes, my noodles were ready. Before anything, I took a sip of the broth.
Now, I’m no expert and I’ve heard mixed reviews on Phở Hòa, so I came into the restaurant with both sides of the argument. But cottdamn, I thought the broth was great. It had the right amount of fat and didn’t carry that same lingering taste of MSG that I often detect in most phos. It was pure and meaty, exactly what I want my pho to taste like.
It’s hard to mess up on noodles, so I won’t talk about that. The meat was fine too.
I know most locals will suggest you try other foods that may not be accessible in the States, but I suggest you try what you’re used to. And if worst comes to worst, you can always eat five meals in one day to try and eat as much as possible.