On a recent survey conducted by the city of Hanoi, visitors were asked which Vietnamese dishes they had enjoyed the most, most responses were pho bo (beef noodle soup). That doesn’t surprise me, because pho bo is not only famous for its tenderness of the rice noodle, the texture characteristics of low fat thinly sliced beef and the sweetness of the stock attained from low simmering rich marrow bones overnight, but pho bo has also been a symbol of the Vietnamese cuisine.
Thach Lam, a Vietnamese writer, wrote in his book “Hanoi 36 Streets” that: "Pho is a delicacy of Hanoi, you can eat pho in other cities but the noodle soup is at its best when it’s served by a restaurant in Hanoi”. There are many pho restaurants in Hanoi today, but not all of them are known for the original tastes of a classic pho (pho bo). For those who want to try a real pho bo, here are the top 5 pho bo restaurants in Hanoi that the locals are raving about, and of cause, I have also enjoyed them the most myself.
But first thing first, if you haven’t experience this Vietnamese noodle dish before, let’s check out the overview of pho. Here's where to eat pho bo right now.
#1. Pho Vui
Just like most classic pho restaurants in the city center of Hanoi, Pho Vui serves only one dish – the beef noodle soup. With some wooden tables behind the door step, some green plastic ones with low stools spread out on the side walk, and a small open kitchen with large stock pots, are what you can see when you reach Pho Vui in the middle of the Hang Giay Street in the Old Quarter. Though owning a small space, Pho Vui has been a favorite pho restaurant for the local residents for many years.
A bowl of Pho Vui features super-hot stock with cut flat rice noodles, topped with eye-catching pink hue beef and some big long green onions. The stock is clear and sweet, and it has a full mouth feel of rich flavor due to the marrow released from long-simmering bones. The beef was thrashed before soaking in the boiling stock to soften it-which reminds me of pho in Nam Dinh province, the birth place of the Vietnamese pho today. Be sure to add some vinegar, lime, chili and hot sauce for extra flavoring!
Pho Vui: 25 Hang Giay, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
Opening hours: 7h00 to 10h00, 6h00 to 22h00
Tel: +84 916 596 126
#2. Pho Suong
Located at the T-junction between Trung Yen Alley and Ta Hien Street, Pho Suong is about 3-minute walking to the north from Hoan Kiem Lake. The place is quite small, so the owner places his beef stock pots right on the street. That makes curious passing-by tourists stop and take photos, which also creates them opportunities to interact with the working chef. Pho Vui is one of the oldest pho restaurant in the city, hence the stock also has its own light, sweet taste and rich beef flavors.
Topped the hot bowl of the eye catching beef stock are the crispy fat beef, which was thinly sliced in big chunks. The beef is tender, not chewy. Rice noodles are as at its fine texture like silk, and some green onions and cilantros that even create more complex flavors in your mouth. Be sure to add some vinegar, lime, chili and hot sauce for extra flavoring!
Pho Suong: 24 Trung Yen Alley, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
Opening hours: 5h30 to 11h00, 16h30 to 21h30
#3. Pho Ly Quoc Su
Opened in 2005, which is quite new comparing to other classic pho restaurants in Hanoi, but Pho Ly Quoc Su has gained the fame being one of the most popular pho places in the city. Came from the birth place of pho in Nam Dinh province, Mr. Lan, the owner, creatively adds more spices and herbs into each bowl of his pho while still cook the stock with the traditional slow simmering method.
In addition to the sweetness of the rich stock from rich marrow beef bones, tender beef and soft rice noodles, Pho Ly Quoc Su offers more complex flavors from sliced onions and a generous amount of fresh cilantros. May be, because of these added herbs, Pho Ly Quoc Su is the most visited pho restaurant in city by both locals and foreign tourists. Be sure to add some vinegar, lime, chili and hot sauce for extra flavoring!
Pho Ly Quoc Su: 10 Ly Quoc Su Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
Opening hours: 7h00 to 22h00
Tel: +84 24 392 344 55
#4. Pho Gia Truyen
This is my uncle’s favorite Pho restaurant; he comes here for breakfast almost every day in the last 20 years. He said its high quality stock still retains to its original taste from the old days, and it’s the best pho stock in town. Each bowl of pho here features the fragrance sweetness and the mellow taste that derived from the marrow-rich beef bones, the tender beef with a glowing pink hue and a generous amount of chopped ginger and green onions. Also the ambience of the restaurant creates a feeling of an aged business, that enhances diners’ confidence in every single bite.
Local people often say this is the best pho in Hanoi, as they appreciate the stock, so don’t be surprised if you see a line of Vietnamese and foreign travelers at any time of the day. The lines move quickly though, and you won’t be disappointed with what you finally have. At your turn there, you will be asked to pay and wait to collect your pho at the counter, then you can bring it to any wooden table inside. It’s 100% self-service restaurant. Be sure to add a bit of red chili, vinegar and hot sauce for extra flavoring!
Pho Gia Truyen: 49 Bat Dan Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
Opening hours: 6h00 to 12h00, 18h00 to 21h00
#5. Pho Thin
Instead of serving different beef options, from rare meat to medium to well-done like other pho restaurants, Pho Thin only focuses on stir-fried lean beef with onion, garlic and ginger. The image of Pho Thin is its large simmering stock pot full of cow bones at the entrance, where you order and pay while watching them to prepare the soup.
A bowl of Pho Thin features a sweet and a bit fatty stock cooked from rich marrow cow bones and beef, and it’s then topped with a generous amount of chopped spring onions. Be sure to add some vinegar, lime, chili and hot sauce for extra flavoring!
Pho Thin: 13 Lo Duc Street, Hai Ba Trung District, Hanoi
Opening hours: 5h30 to 21h30
Now that, my fellow travelers, is the list of the 5 Best Pho Restaurants in Hanoi! Let’s walk straight to their addresses and order a bowl for yourself, maybe you will find one that you like best.