Where is Pho from? How has it become a Vietnamese culinary icon?

Where is Pho from

Are you wondering, “Where is Pho from?” On your Vietnam travel journey, don’t forget to savor this iconic Vietnamese dish – a culinary masterpiece. Born in the vibrant tapestry of Vietnamese food culture, it is a must-try for those exploring Vietnam’s gastronomic heritage.

1. Where is Pho from? About its historical origins

Pho, a Vietnamese national dish, is a culinary delight cherished by people from all walks of life. Similar to the rich tapestry of legends that shape history, the origins of Pho have sparked much debate. So, where is Pho originally from? While the province of Nam Dinh in the Red River Delta is often considered the geographical birthplace of Pho, Hanoi holds the title of its spiritual home. 

Pho Nam Dinh was originally a simple soup with buffalo meat and rice noodles. It underwent modifications, which replaced the buffalo meat with beef and enriched the broth to create a more robust flavor. This evolved dish gained popularity among migrant workers from the Chinese provinces of Yunnan and Guangdong, who found its taste reminiscent of their home cuisine.

Where is Pho from

Influenced by the imprints of major nations like France and China, Pho Hanoi embodies a unique blend of flavors. During the peak of French colonialism, the French sought to increase the availability of beef in Vietnam, leading to a surplus of beef bones. Chinese and Vietnamese vendors seized this opportunity and used the beef bones to enhance the flavor of Pho Nam Dinh’s broth.

Vietnamese locals gradually embraced these variations, leading to their widespread popularity. By the 1930s, the sight of vendors carrying mobile kitchens on bamboo poles and selling Pho had become a common occurrence in the streets of Hanoi Old Quarter. Since then, it has become deeply ingrained in the national psyche, evolving alongside the historical journey of the country.

>>> Explore: Vietnamese noodles: Innumerable dishes to fill you up during your trip

2. Regional variations of Pho throughout the time

Regardless of where is Pho from, over the eras, Pho has spread across Vietnam with various transformations at the hands of talented chefs, giving rise to regional variations such as Northern Pho and Southern Pho.

2.1. Northern Pho

Typically, Pho in Northern Vietnam is characterized by its salty taste, featuring flat and wide rice noodles made from fragrant rice flour. The broth is clear, with a natural sweetness from beef bones. Common meat options include beef and chicken. Accompanying herbs are minimal, usually consisting of scallions served with condiments like lime, chili, garlic vinegar, and fish sauce. Additionally, people in the North often enjoy Pho with crispy fried dough sticks.

Where is Pho from

2.2. Southern Pho

In Southern Vietnam, Pho tends to be sweeter and richer, with smaller rice noodles compared to that in the North. Southern Pho’s broth may include rock sugar and extra fat. In addition to beef brisket, Southern Pho is often served with beef meatballs. The garnishes in Southern Pho are also more diverse, including green onions, cilantro, basil, and various condiments like sweet hoisin sauce and spicy chili sauce. Unlike the North, people in the South typically do not eat Pho with crispy fried dough sticks.

Where is Pho from

>>> Discover: Vietnamese beef noodle: The iconic dish with irresistible taste & aroma

3. How does Pho embody Vietnamese culinary culture?

Regardless of where is Pho from, it is more than just noodle soup. Pho embodies the tradition of Vietnamese culture.

The process of making Pho reflects the essence of Vietnamese cuisine, emphasizing refinement in each preparation step. In addition to the fragrant rice noodles and the tender meat, the intricately prepared broth is a masterwork by itself. Using various ingredients like beef bones and spices such as cinnamon, star anise, ginger, coriander seeds, and roasted shallots, it takes 8-14 hours with constant skimming to create a clear broth.

Aside from making Pho, the act of enjoying this delicious offering clearly reflects the appreciation of Vietnamese people for cuisine. Sights of people patiently waiting in line for a bowl of Pho have become commonplace in Hanoi. The duration of the wait is inconsequential; what matters is savoring until the last bite.

Where is Pho from

>>> Read more: Vietnam food list: 20 culinary delights you must try once in your life

4. Where does Pho stand on the global culinary landscape?

In the global culinary landscape, Pho has asserted its position, ranking 34th on a list of the 100 most popular dishes worldwide compiled by the international food magazine TasteAtlas. They praised Pho as “an integral part of daily life, one of the most beloved Vietnamese culinary delights in the Western hemisphere, appreciated for its intricate and distinctive flavors paired with an elegant simplicity.” 

Additionally, Pho has received numerous accolades in television programs, such as CNN’s Top 50 Best Street Foods in Asia in 2022, CNN’s Top 20 Best Soups in the World in 2021, and CNN’s 30 Most Delicious Dishes in the World in 2018. Some renowned Pho establishments in Hanoi, including Pho Thin Hanoi, the eateries on Bat Dan and Ly Quoc Su streets, Pho Suong, Pho Vui, and Pho Tu Lun, have been visited by many national leaders and international celebrities.

Where is Pho from

>>> More on: 12 of the most famous Vietnamese foods that are definitely worth a try

After discovering “Where is Pho from?”, come straight to Vietnam to savor this national dish along with a plethora of other dishes that reflect Vietnam’s rich culinary heritage. Some recommended destinations to enjoy Pho and explore the beauty of Vietnam include Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh CityPhu QuocNha TrangHoi An, and Ha Long.

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Where is Pho from


Where is Pho from

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The question “Where is Pho from?” or “Where did Pho originate from?” opens a door to the heart of Vietnam’s culinary heritage. This iconic dish, rooted in the rich tapestry of Vietnamese food culture, is more than just a meal. As you explore the origins of Pho, you will embark on a flavorful adventure that captures the essence of Vietnam and makes your culinary exploration truly unforgettable.

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