Phantastical Pho

March 23, 2011

After leaving you with our deflated experience of Pho in Ho Chi Minh City, I feel a little sheepish. You see I like to think of myself as a bona fide Pho lover. And, as I feel my love is true, I should stand by Pho through thick noodles and thin, for better broth or worse.

But to the first bowl I had in Vietnam that didn’t live up to my inflated expectations, I turned a cold shoulder. That is not how you treat a loved one. I am so sorry, Pho. Please forgive me…

I want to make it up to you with a tale of Phantastical Pho.

I had no doubt that whilst visiting the beautiful land of Pho I would be presented with a heavenly bowl, yet I was unsure when it would come to me. It turns out, the chosen place for this holy experience was Hoi An. Being on the central coast, I was not sure what broth flavour to expect. Hoi An is closer to the south than the north, so perhaps this would mean the flavour would be sweet? Well it was on the sweet side, but not too sweet. More like “Sweeeeeeet!” (said by an Aussie teenage surfer in the early ‘90s)…

Initially when I walked past this hidden restaurant, I assumed it was someone’s house. Actually it probably is. But what I mean is that I thought it was out of bounds to hungry tourists. And so, day after day, we would pass by this little place on the way into the Old Town and watch the locals drink together from steaming bowls.

One day we tried our luck. Ben, the conglomerate of races he is, went in first (he liked to try and convince people he was a local). Wearing his most charming of smiles, he successfully secured us a table. And so we sat on our plastic stools, surrounded by discarded tissue paper, and waited for our breakfast.

Excited much?

And then it came…


All the elements came together to create one bowl of bliss; a broth that was not overwhelming, yet could stand alone as a beautiful, aromatic soup; fresh, slippery noodles; oh my goodness, melt-in-your-mouth, super thin slices of tender beef ; bunches of fresh, vibrant herbs positively bursting with fragrance and flavour; and a touch of chilli – just a touch. Sweeeeeeet

Heidi xo

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  • Michelle Chin March 23, 2011 at 8:26 am

    Suh-weet. Finding nemo's turtle. 😀

  • wholesomecook March 23, 2011 at 8:41 am

    Wandering aroundfar away places and eating where the locals do is just the best isn't it? Love the story and now feel like Pho. 🙂

  • benc March 23, 2011 at 8:54 am

    It's a Phopocalypse!

  • Blithely Unaware March 23, 2011 at 10:22 am

    Dannnnnnnnnnnnnng I love Pho!!!
    I'm SO insanely jealous that you have eaten this sweeeeeeeeeeeeeet version.


    I'm not even going to show Hamish the photos he will be blue all day 🙁 🙁 🙁 It's totally his style Pho too, he always gets raw beef on the side…

    So jealous.

  • Lisa (bakebikeblog) March 23, 2011 at 10:55 am

    oh Mr BBB would LOVE THIS!!!!!! He love Pho – while I am 'on the fence' 🙂

  • Heidi March 23, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    Michelle – hehe I need to watch that movie again, so good!

    Wholesomecook – it is simply the best 🙂

    Benc – I like the way you think!

    Blithely Unaware – I'm jealous too! Somehow. Jealous of my old self who was eating it 😛

    Lisa – I prescribe lots and lots of pho to push you over to the right side of the fence 😉

    Heidi xo

  • Anh March 23, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    I love the hidden restaurant as well. Glad you found something that you like 🙂

  • Adrian in Food Rehab March 23, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    Phodown! It does look like someone’s house! The bowls of utter goodness looks so fresh and tasty

  • Hannah March 23, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Wow! Just goes to show that looks can be deceiving. The photo of the soup looks a bit plain to me, but your description… phwoar. I want some!

  • Not Quite Nigella March 23, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    Ahhh! I'm so glad to hear that you got your beloved Pho (well a good version of it!)

  • The InTolerant Chef March 23, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    Always the best idea to eat where the locals eat. Yummm…

  • Eva March 24, 2011 at 3:56 am

    That pho looks AMAZING. Love the photos of the place, too :o)

  • Julia @ Boredom Abounds March 24, 2011 at 9:38 am

    Mmm, yum. Those hole in the wall restaurants are always the best. And if locals are eating there, you KNOW it is good.

  • Heidi March 24, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Anh – thank you 🙂

    Adrian – haha Phodown! I love it 🙂

    Hannah – I was thinking the same thing earlier, the broth does look rather pallid. The photos lie!!!

    Lorraine – it was amazing!

    InTolerant Chef – amen 🙂

    Eva – thanks!!

    Julia – precisely 😉

    Heidi xo

  • Anna March 24, 2011 at 11:53 pm

    Teehee…. Absolutely love the opening para. 🙂
    Im totally with you, I dig tha pho.

  • Iron Chef Shellie March 26, 2011 at 9:24 am

    I am SO overdue for a bowl of pho!! It's insane.
    Just talked to the boy and we are hopefully having it tonight! thanks for reminding me about it!! x

  • Heavenly Ingredients March 29, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    those pics are making me soooo hungry for pho!