The Beef Pho (“Pho Bo”) or the piping hot soup fresh rice noodle with beef has recently ranked second among the 20 best soups of the world, according to CNN, the leading US-based news channel.
“A bowl of beef pho is sure to cure what ails you,” writer staff Jen Rose Smith of CNN Travel wrote. She also quoted Andrea Nguyen, the author of the “Pho Cookbook” saying that Pho is among Vietnam’s most recognized culinary exports.
“Broth is simmered for hours with cinnamon, star anise, and other warm spices to create a wonderfully aromatic base for this rice noodle soup,” she wrote.
Author Andrea Nguyen first tasted pho in Vietnam as a child, sitting at a Saigon street stall with her parents. That experience sparked her lifelong love of the iconic noodle soup, long before it became a cult food item in the United States.
Being considered as the national dish of Vietnam, the Pho bo has a series of variations such as Pho tai (Pho soup with medium-rare sliced steak), Pho chin (soup with steamed lean beef), Pho nam (soup with steamed half-lean half-fatty beef), Pho gau bo (soup with steamed fatty beef) or Pho sot vang (Vietnamese version of Bordelaise sauce with beef tendon), among others.
A stall of Pho bo can be found anywhere in Vietnam or in big cities around the world, but Hanoi must be the best place to try the dish. “People should first sample a bowl of Hanoi’s Pho bo before going on to discover the mystery of Vietnamese culinary,” renowned French Chef Didier Corlou suggested. “The soup with its extraordinary aroma alone is enough to chase winter from the soul,” he said. No one can be sure about the exact time that Pho bo was invented, but the dish was already very popular in Hanoi during the 1940s. Renowned Vietnamese writer Thach Lam used to write in a book entitled “Hanoi’s 36 streets” that “Pho bo is a special treat of Hanoi, not only because it is a unique dish of the capital city, but it is because only Pho bo in Hanoi is delicious”.
For Hanoians, Pho bo is not only a portion of food that helps to fill up the stomach but is a cultural habit that is rooted in their mind. They might have dumplings, sponge cake, or other foods from time to time, but they could take at least a bowl of Pho bo more than once or twice a week for their whole life.
Hanoians are willing to wake up earlier in the morning to wait patiently in line for a bowl of Pho in some famous stalls then happily claim it as one of their most important gratification of the day.