Pho, pronounced ‘fuh’ is and has always been my favourite Vietnamese export, so a chance to head to Vietnam was not going to be passed up without hunting, scouring and seeking the best pho.
The first stop was Hanoi. Hanoi style pho differs from Saigon style in that it’s not served with a plate of bean sprouts and herbs. Instead the broth contains everything you need to get going – just add chilli to taste.
We found our first suggestion, Pho 10, thanks to a Guardian article on Hanoi street food. Pho 10 is the perfect spot for a tourist coming to terms with the hustle and bustle of old town Hanoi. It’s a small western style cafe serving a very limited menu, four types of pho.
As always I purchased the rare beef, a beer and sat down. The kitchen was behind a clear screen so you could watch the chef cut thin strips from the huge hanging beef and ladle the smoking hot broth over the top. Perfect.
The pho was better than anything I’ve had before, albeit my experience was limited to Shoreditch in London, however the fragrance and quality of the broth really shone through. I thought we could do no better, until a chance discovery thanks to a recommendation we had, we found ourselves looking for an even better representation of the delicious dish.
We found this at Pho Gia Thuyen right in the middle of Bat Dan, Hanoi. The restaurant doesn’t look like much, but the queues, which start forming around 5PM and continue late into the night suggest otherwise.
Pho Gia Thuyen offers three types of Pho, ranging from 20,000 dong to 30,000 dong. That’s about $1 – $1.50 (70p to one pound.) so no one is breaking the bank here.
As I didn’t understand any of the options, I opted for a Pho Tai Nam, assuming as it was the most expensive one, it would have the leanest beef. I was right and boy was it delicious.
The broth was unbelievable with notes of lime and fragrant herbs, and to top it off, we discovered a new fried breadstick which was made to be eaten with the pho. The trick was to dip the batter into the broth until it was soft and wet, then chomp the end off. Overall it was easily the tastiest meal I ate in Vietnam. So good infact that I went back 3 more times!