“Best pho in town” – it’s sure to cause a stir
Religion and politics are topics banned from dinner parties because, frankly, they are guaranteed to start a fight. Noodlies, Sydney food blog thinks we should add discussion on what makes a good bowl of pho. Already my dad and I disagree on whether this quintessential Vietnamese rice noodle soup is better in Sydney or Vietnam. He says Sydney. We are in vigorous disagreement.
While we both reckon, Pho Phu Vuong is our favourite in Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon, my nephew in Vietnam disagrees. He takes me to his favourite, Phở Đệ Nhất for breakfast. It’s 9am, late by Vietnam standards, and the place is at capacity. We share tables with two other diners.
The first thing that catches my eye is a line drawing of a handsome late 40’s man, suave and debonair in the Western style, his full, lustrous head of hair swept back. He sports a worldly moustache and bulbous, black bow tie. The visage of this man-about-town gazes approvingly while diners slurp on their pho.
“Who is that fabulous man?” I ask.
“Oh, Mr Vo Tuan” my nephew casually replied. “He’s like the KFC’s Colonel but Vietnamese,” he just manages to suppress a toothy grin.
Mr Vo Tuan has a few Pho De Nhat (top of the class pho) shops around, so I guess it’s a chain, similar to Colonel Sanders’. However, unlike the Colonel, Mr Vo Tuan is still very much a live and kicking. according to my nephew, you’ll see that handsome face in the flesh if you hang around long enough.
But what about the pho?
The broth is clean on the plainer side, the main flavour here is fish sauce saltiness – not one for those who like their soup sweet. As at other pho establishments, there’s liberal use of spring onion, onions and you get lots of fresh herbs.
It’s not bad. But not my favourite, though that’s possibly because I didn’t meet the enigmatic Mr Vo Tuan.
What about you? What flavours do you like in a bowl of pho? And where’s your favourite place?
Phở Đệ Nhất
93 Pham Van Hai, P.3
Quan Tan Binh
TP Ho Chi Minh
I have been to Hanoi and HCM city 3 times and each time I have tried numerous restaurants reputed to have the “best” pho in town. In my own personal opinion and taste preference, I tend to agree with your dad.
The pho in Sydney restaurants are generally cook by migrants from Vietnam in its traditional and “authentic” (I dislike this word because it is so subjective when it refers to food) style albeit I suspect with better quality ingredients when compared to those in Vietnam. If at all there is better pho in Vietnam, I think I can live my favourite pho interpretations in Sydney with the thought that its futile for me to hunt down any better because the difference, if any, would be marginal.