Pho (Noodle soup) is a traditional Vietnamese dish that is considered one of the typical for Vietnamese cuisine. From north to south, Pho is preferred by both local people and foreign tourists that it is very easy and convenient to find a Pho restaurant and sample a bowl of hot and spicy noodles. However, to taste and feel the most quintessential and original flavor of Pho, all will lead to Hanoi Pho, the noticeable feature of Hanoi cuisine culture and the pride of Hanoians.
Hanoi Pho is a convenient dish for all main meals: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A bowl of Pho can contain 18-20 kinds of foods from natural plants and meats. The most special thing is that those ingredients are used almost in the original state and coordinate with each other to create a unique flavour that is strange, delicious and easy to digest.
1. Ingredients of Hanoi Noodles
The main components of Hanoi Pho are noodles, broth, and sliced beef or chicken. Traditional noodles for Hanoi Pho are made from rice flour, coated into thin sheets and cut into flat fibers like fettuccine.
The soup for Pho is the clear broth cooked from beef bones and simmered for hours or even a day for full flavour (if the cook does not have much experience on deodorizing the beef bones, pork bones can be a replacing option). This broth is a perfect combination of tastes with unique flavours from cinnamon, star anise, grilled ginger and onion, cardamom, clove, coriander seeds, etc.
The toppings for Hanoi Pho are beef (with all kinds of beef shank, brisket flat and point cooked rare or well done) or chicken (cooked well done then shredded into pieces). There are also some variants of Pho with pork, shrimp or frog legs; however, they are much less popular.
2. How to make Hanoi Noodles
In the process of Pho cooking, broth making is the most important stage. The soup of the traditional Pho needs to be made from marrow bones along with some spices. The bones must be washed and scraped off all the dirt before putting in a pot with cold water. The first boiled water must be poured so that the whole pot has no bad smell of beef bones, the next water will be used as the broth.
Grilled ginger and onions are also added. When the water is boiled, reduce the fire and start to remove the foam. Once you have removed all the foam, add some cold water and wait for the water to continue boiling then keep catching the foam. Just do so continuously until the water is clear and there is no residue in the foam anymore.
Then, add a little seasoning and adjust the fire so that the pot only boils to keep the water from becoming cloudy and the sweetness of the bones has enough time to dissolve into the broth. The delicious taste of the broth is mainly determined by spices. However, the formula of each specific broth for each Pho brand is kept quite secret.
To prepare a hearty bowl of noodle soup, put a sufficient amount of fresh rice noodles in a sieve kind and soak in hot water some seconds before placing in a bowl. Top with sliced beef or shredded chicken and chopped scallions, then pour the hot broth over the noodles. Pho Hanoi is also served along with Vietnamese crullers, while in some restaurants, diners will sample Pho with green vegetables, herbs, bean sprouts, lime, sliced chilli, pepper, or chilli sauce.
3. Best restaurants to enjoy Hanoi Noodles - Where to go?
Nowadays, it is very easy and convenient to find a Pho restaurant in Hanoi; however, the heirloom restaurants through many generations that keep well the quintessence of Hanoi Pho are not everyone to know. Among hundreds of restaurants all over the corners of Hanoi, the following are familiar destinations for local inhabitants and many international diners who love this national food of Vietnam.
Pho Gia Truyen - Bat Dan, Hanoi, Vietnam
Located at 49 Bat Dan Streets, Pho Bat Dan is a popular restaurant that is highly recommended by not only Hanoians but also people from other regions and international tourists. Due to the typical flavour of traditional Pho, the restaurant is always busy with a long queue of customers, while the space inside is limited, customers sometimes experience the self-service: paying, taking bowls, and finding seats.
Address: 49 Bat Dan, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
Prices: 40,000 - 65,000 VND
Pho 10 Ly Quoc Su, Hanoi, Vietnam
This is a long-established Pho brand. Pho here is very delicious and has many flavours to choose depending on customers' preferences. The broth of Pho is rich and fragrant due to its processing and selection of spices. Pho Ly Quoc Su has many shops, but the original at 10 Ly Quoc Su Street is still considered the best.
Address: 10 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
Other bases: 42 Hang Voi, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi / N2A Hoang Minh Giam, Cau Giay, Hanoi
Prices: 60,000 - 120,000 VND
Pho Thin Bo Ho, Hanoi, Vietnam
There are two different and famous Pho Thin brands in Hanoi: Pho Thin Bo Ho and Pho Thin Lo Duc. These two have no relationship and serve bowls of Pho in different styles.
Pho Thin Bo Ho was opened in 1955 by Mr Bui Chi Thin (1928 - 2001). The restaurant is located in a small alley of Ding Tien Hoang Street, opposite to the well-known Hoan Kiem Lake. Referring to Pho Thin Bo Ho, diners will remember about the elegant sweet and delicious bowls of Pho with ginger-flavoured beef slices or rare beef pieces that stimulate the tastebuds.
Address: 61 Dinh Tien Hoang, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
Other bases: 2 Hang Tre, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi / 1 Lo Duc, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
Prices: 50,000 - 70,000 VND
Pho Thin Lo Duc, Hanoi, Vietnam
In contrast to the elegant sweetness of Pho Thin Bo Ho, Pho Thin Lo Duc brings to customers the greasy taste of the rich broth and unique rare stir-fried beef. The restaurant was born in 1979 and operated by Mr Nguyen Trong Thin. The broth is prepared according to the esoteric method that Mr Thin learned from the ancients, adding inherent traditional spices. Therefore, Pho Thin Lo Duc has retained the most quintessential features of Vietnamese traditional Pho, creating its own special charm to diners.
Address: 13 Lo Duc, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
Other bases: 19B Hoang Ngoc Phach, Lang Ha, Dong Da, Hanoi / 23 Vu Pham Ham, Yen Hoa, Cau Giay, Hanoi
Prices: 60,000 VND
Pho Suong, Hanoi, Vietnam
Pho Suong is one of the first and most famous Pho brands in Hanoi. This is also one of the noodle shops contributing to making the brand "Pho Hanoi" for a while and still retains the traditional taste. Pho here is famous for its fresh beef, the broth is sweet and clear with tiny fat spots but not much.
Address: 24B Trung Yen, Dinh Liet, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
Other bases: 36B Mai Hac De, Bui Thi Xuan, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi / Ally 26, Nguyen Hong Street, Lang Ha, Dong Da, Hanoi
Prices: 45,000 - 75,000 VND
If you would like to know more about Hanoi Pho, join a street food tour with our friendly local guide who shows you everything about this national dish. In case you really get in Vietnamese cuisine, don’t forget to check out our Culinary Tours or contact directly to our INSIDE TRAVEL expert team for a wonderful bespoke holiday in Vietnam.