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Nguyen, Hai Nam

What the Pho?!

If you don't know Pho

Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup that has gone from home cooking to mainstream specialized dish in North America.

A typical pho is served in a bowl with a specific cut of white rice noodles in clear beef broth, with slim cuts of beef (steak, fatty flank, lean flank, brisket). Variations feature tendon, tripe, meatballs,chicken leg, chicken breast, or other chicken organs. "With the lot" (made with chicken broth and all or most of the shop's chicken and cattle offerings, including chicken hearts and livers and beef tripe and tendons) is known as Pho Dat Biet (Special Pho).

The broth is generally made by simmering beef (and sometimes chicken) bones, oxtails, flank steak, charred onion, and spices, taking several hours to prepare. Seasonings can include Saigon cinnamon or other kinds of cinnamon as alternatives (may use stick or powder), star anise, roasted ginger, roasted onion, black cardamom, coriander seed, fennel seed, and clove.

The dish is garnished with ingredients such as green onions, white onions, coriander, Thai basil, fresh Thai chili peppers, lemon or lime wedges, bean sprouts, and cilantro.

Types of pho:
  • Pho bo tai: Pho with half-done beef fillet
  • Pho bo chin nac: Pho with well-done beef brisket
  • Pho bap bo: Pho with beef muscle
  • Pho nam bo: pho with beef flank
  • Pho gan bo: pho with beef tendon
  • Pho sach bo: Pho with beef tripe
  • Pho bo vien: Pho with beef meat balls
  • Pho ga: Chicken Pho
  • Pho sot vang: Pho in beef stew soup
  • Pho tai: Pho with raw beef fillet
  • Pho tom: Pho served with pieces of shrimp (sometimes served at Vietnamese-American restaurants)
  • Pho hai san: Pho served with variety of seafood (sometimes served at Vietnamese-American restaurants)
  • Pho xao: Stir-fried Pho
  • Pho chua: Sour Pho used with nuoc mam pha
  • Pho cay: Spicy Pho with vegetables
The article Pho business: In the kitchen with Arnond Sreesuvan explains how to differentiate between good and bad noodle soups as well as how it is prepared.

Are you hungry yet? Here is a list of various Pho Places around North America:

Absolutely Pho-bulous
Pho Show
Pho King
Pho Real
Pho Shizzle
What the Pho!
Pho Kim Long

Pho Map