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Introduction to Phở

24/02/2020 2.460 Views
Phở (pronounce it like « fuh ») is THE most popular meal in Vietnam.

In addition to be easily findable, recognizable (and easy to order if you don’t speak Vietnamese), it’s a very affordable meal (between 20 000 to 30 000 VND).
It’s also a very healthy and nutritive meal that will satisfy both your taste buds and your stomach !You can find its beef version, Phở bò (pronounce it like “fuh boh”) just as easily as its chicken version Phở Gà (pronounce it like “fuh ga”).


Picture of Paul Doumer, Governor-General of French Indochina between 1891 and 1902 with his sons

Although this dish now enjoys an undeniable national popularity, phở is relatively new to Vietnamese cuisine.

Its origin dates from the 19th to 20th centuries, in the province of Nam Dinh (North of Vietnam), during the height of French colonialism. The French have popularized the use of beef in the kitchen, producing surplus bone. The Vietnamese thus had the idea to use this surplus to improve their broth, gradually creating the phở that we know today.

Phở Gà (chicken phở)

It is interesting to note that oxen were previously used only for transport and agriculture. 

Their sudden popularity in the kitchen quickly created supply problems and the use of beef was therefore temporarily regulated by the Vietnamese government. Moreover, it was not well regarded to produce so many rice noodles, since they were perceived as a waste of rice, a vital resource for the survival of the people. This is how the Phở Gà (chicken phǫ) appeared, in order to offer an interesting alternative to an already widely popular dish.



Phở bò (beef phở)

The broth is made of the shank and beef marrow bones, with anise, cinnamon, ginger, onions, cardamom and cloves. The making of broth is quite an art and can take several hours or even days. It is then garnished at the last minute with rice noodles, beef, chives, cilantro, onions and lemon juice.

Traditionally, phở is eaten for breakfast or lunch, but you can also try it at any time of the day, as there are plenty of phở restaurants everywhere in the country.

Our tasting advice

Being the base of the dish, it is customary to first taste the broth. Then, you can add to your taste more lemon, chili…. You can use the soup spoon to place the noodles and various ingredients in it if you are not familiar with the chopsticks !

You can easily find the shop next door where you can taste your favorite phở sitting on a plastic stool just like a local, but don’t hesitate to try several, especially if you are travelling between different regions!

Indeed, in the south for example, you will taste a phở with more different toppings, such as beansprouts or mint, and the broth will usually be seasoned with Hoisin sauce (kind of barbecue sauce) and thus a bit sweeter.


Comforting dish with flavors suitable to most people’s tastes, phở has been exported all over the world. 

No matter where you live, try to find an authentic Vietnamese restaurant to bring you closer to the original flavors.

You can also try to make your own phở at home! The number of Asian grocery stores is only growing and you will find all the necessary ingredients.

If you don’t have an Asian grocery store near you, don’t hesitate to browse the Hypermarkets’ World Products department. Some products are worth more than others, but you can probably find some interesting ingredients.


Vietnamese cuisine is very popular in the rest of the world and vice versa, which has created some… culinary originalities inspired by phở. A Vietnamese chef even created a phở with truffle oil, wagyu beef and… foie gras! 

Here are some original creations we found :

Pho Pizza, Instagram picture by @phorestaurant

Phopling, mix between pho and Chinese dumplings


The Pho Cocktail, anise, coriander, cinnamon, chilli pepper, cardamom,
Cointreau and gin (without noodles or beef), Instagram picture by @vietnamesegod

Pho ice cream, Instagram picture by @thepetitechef

The Pho Burger, Instagram picture by @ninjacitykitchenbar

The Phorito (yes they did mix pho with burrito) Instagram picture by @fromparistosf


Have you already tried pho ?If yes, how did you like it ?If no, we hope this article helped you knowing more about it and made you want to try it !

See you soon with Mandarin Road Voyages !

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