The Pho bo or the piping hot soup fresh rice noodle with beef has recently ranked second among 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.

A delecious pho bo bowl with york eggs. Photo: Ngo Duc Tien

“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 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.

 The Pho bo is ussually eat accompanied with quay. Photo: Bich Lien 

No one can be sure about the exact time that Pho bo was invented, but the dish was already very popular in Hanoi during 1940s. Renowned Vietnamese writer Thach Lam used to write on 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 not only a food that helps to fill up the stomach but is a cultural habit that is rooted in their mind. They might have dumpling, 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 of 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 as one of their most important gratification of the day.  

The bowl of Pho tai (Pho soup with medium rare sliced steak) with some silices of steamed fatty beef. Photo: Truc Linh Anh

The following are some Pho bo restaurants in Hanoi recommended by The Hanoi Times:

Pho Bat Dan (49 Bat Dan Street, Hoan Kiem District) dates back to 1920 and is one of the oldest Pho bo restaurants in Hanoi.Talking about Pho Bat Dan, people immediately think about  long and time consuming queue of people waiting to taste a bowl of delicious traditional Pho bo.

Visitors to Hanoi city are amazed to see many people reading newspapers or chatting on the cell phones while waiting in line for just a bowl of rice noodle with beef. They even easily accept to take a seat on a small stool and eating up Pho bo without a table.

The Pho bo at any Pho Ly Quoc Su stalls is worth trying once for any visitors to the capital city. The Ly Quoc Su Pho’s owners may have their own reason to be so self-conceited boasting his brand (No 10 Ly Quoc Su Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi) is unique in Hanoi which has keep the traditional Hanoi Pho original recipe since the years of 1948-1949.  

The Pho Tu Lun (No 23C Hai Ba Trung District) is said to be one among the oldest Pho stalls in Hanoi. The humble restaurant is now running by children of Mr.Tu Lun, the first owner of the restaurant who passed-away long time ago. 

The Pho Thin is located at 13 Lo Duc Street, Hai Ba Trung District. Although the restaurant is a bit far from the Old Quarter area of Hanoi, it is nevertheless still loved by many Hanoians who visit it frequently. Serving the Pho bo for over 30 years, Pho Thin has its own way to cook the beef. The whole big slice of beef is chopped by a knife’s back in front of the diners, then fried on a high-temperature furnace, so that the beef  has fresh medium flavor combining with the fragrant of the ginger.

For those living around Hanoi’s Old Quarter area, having a bowl of Pho bo for breakfast at Pho Vui (No 21 Hang Giay, Hoan Kiem District) is an ideal choice. The name of the restaurant means “happy” so it may remind everyone about the satisfaction when enjoy a bowl of Pho here: delicious food and happy feeling when they finish their gorgeous soup.