As most of you might already know, pho is a traditional Vietnamese soup consisting of clear beef broth, rice noodles, slim cuts of beef, bean sprouts (fresh and crunchy), finely sliced raw red onions & spring onions. Needles to say, imperatively garnished with fresh coriander and served with hot chili sauce.
What I know for sure is that once you have a bowl of this heavenly broth, it can get a serious addiction,so beware! Not for nothing this Vietnamese street food has become a well known specialty all over the world.
My love story with the most iconic Vietnamese dish began not long ago,
when I passed by a newly opened Vietnamese restaurant in Bucharest. And for the last 3 years I’ve been a faithful client of Toan’s. And besides bringing joy to my taste buds, it also brought Anthony Bourdain and all his nice TV shows into my life: I was in the middle of a in-depth research about Pho bo when I stumbled across a video with him having an orgasmic experience in Vietnam while slurping a “lovely bowl of goodness”, as he calls it.
As I haven’t been in Vietnam yet ( but 3 delicious weeks of Vietnam will happen to me in December!), I’m phollowing the pho outside Romania as well, looking for a perfect bowl of soup during my travels, as you will see below. I have to admit that the soup version at Toan’s in Bucharest is pretty good.
1. Toan’s – Bucharest, Romania
The secret of this Pho is in the broth, they manage almost every time – by means of a delicious unknown alchemy – to serve a rich, flavorful broth which makes you come back for it. I guess it must be a good version since it gets so addictive. The downside here is that you never get as much fresh coriander as you need, even if you order extra, it will not be enough.
I am wondering if this version resembles the traditional, authentic pho the most or if it’s just a good soup adapted to the Romanian taste. I am secretly afraid that I will be more fond of this version than of the real thing in Vietnam 🙂
2. Li Wu – Bucharest, Romania
The worst Pho bo I ever tasted, could not eat it at all and never came back (at least not for the soup). The broth tasted horribly, the meat was very bad and it all just smelled like boiled meat, no herbs. No no no. (my experience was back in October 2013)
3. Xinh Xinh,- Berlin, Germany – Linien Strasse 136, Mitte, 10115
I must confess I was rather disappointed with this Pho bo. It was the first time I was having my favorite soup outside Romania and I was expecting a better version of what I already knew, with lots of greens as they usually serve it in a typical Vietnamese eatery. But instead I got a meaty soup, no greens, served with freshly grated ginger, which doesn’t really fit my ideal image of Pho. And where are the bean sprouts? Probably a regional variant (northern?) of Pho which failed to satisfy my inner foodie (I had to wash it down with some raw herring and boiled potatoes. Dooh! ).
4. Vi Viet – Goteborg, Sweden
Very nice Vietnamese place in a central area of Goteborg. The soup was delicious and they brought a lot of herbs and soy sprouts on the side. Being on a budget (if that is even possible in Sweden), 30 euros for 2 large bowls of my favorite soup was a good deal.
5. Little Saigon – Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Little cozy place on the centrally located Zeedijk street, in the Red District neighborhood/Amsterdam Chinatown.
Here you have three options you can choose from: raw beef, beef brisket or beef meatballs ( € 9). Or you can choose pho with all the beef toppings for € 12.
Are you also a happy Pho bo addict? Any tips regarding a good bowl of Pho in your city or in a travel destination?