“Pho” is the key word that most foreigners mention or search on the Internet once Vietnam is selected as their next travel destination. However, the fact is that there are many other appealing choices, as long as you are “noodle fans”. So, don’t be afraid of lacking options when travelling to Vietnam. This article below will be the handy “noodle – map” for your travelling pocket list of food. Knowing Vietnamese noodles can be extremely helpful, especially if you’re about to order a noodle dish in a Vietnamese restaurant for the first time because many Vietnamese noodles are made of rice flour and appear white when cooked, not all these noodles are the same.

Hanoi – “Pho” and “relationship”, can you see the relevance?

Just start to talk about “Pho” with a very hilarious story, which is always a topic for a several of Vietnamese housewives. Rice is compared with a responsible wife while “Pho” is considered as flirty mistress who can easily steal any man’s heart. The hidden reason behind is that “Pho is a nice dish but you cannot have it every day or in another way, rice cannot be replaced by Pho”

You can find Pho everywhere throughout the country but the initial one showed up in the Old Quarter – commercial Centre in Hanoi, then gradually spread out in Nam Dinh, Sai Gon and other areas around.

Pho just simply consists of fresh rice noodles, a sprinkle of aromatic herbs and chicken or beef, salty …but still delectable and well known over the world.

“Pho” with beef (Photo Credit: http://meohay.info/cong-thuc-nau-nuoc-leo-pho-bo-huong-vi-hang-dong-nam-dinh-de-kinh-doanh-mo-tiem-ban-pho.html)

“Pho” with beef 
(Photo Credit: http://meohay.info/cong-thuc-nau-nuoc-leo-pho-bo-huong-vi-hang-dong-nam-dinh-de-kinh-doanh-mo-tiem-ban-pho.html)

The soup broth is also very special which is made from bones and lesser-quality cuts of meat simmered for hours. The addition of these herbs and table condiments is an essential part of eating Pho and adds another dimension to the dish – our chilly paste for a kick, fish sauce for extra saltiness, garlic vinegar/fresh lime for sourness.

Pho with chicken (Photo Credit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWelY55RJDM)

Pho with chicken (Photo Credit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWelY55RJDM)

In busy cities like Hanoi, the early hours are more relaxed. “Eating Pho” becomes daily habit or ritual things for “Hanoian” for all meals, especially in the morning. Morning beginning over a bowl of “Pho” while seated on a low stool in a crowded open-air shop then going to work are always distinctively Vietnamese culture.

Hue – Bun bo Hue

While foreigners’ awareness about Pho seems to be increasingly growing up, it’s time to learn about another kind of noodle which is equally scrumptious as Pho but call for various ingredients and completely different in flavors – “Bun bo Hue” (or Hue beef noodle soup). This dish is commonly served with round rice noodles, as differed from pho’s flat ones, mixed into a stock made from beef and/or pork bones, flavored with lemongrass, annatto seeds, ginger, fermented shrimp paste, sugar and chiles. Cubes of congealed pig blood, called “huyet”, float alongside slices of beef or pork shank and/or knuckles — with mung bean sprouts, lime wedges, green and white onions, sliced banana blossoms, chile paste and fistfuls of rau ram (Vietnamese coriander), mint and sawtooth herb are offered alongside…

Photo Credit: http://lamdepnhanh.vn/cach-nau-bun-bo-hue.html

Photo Credit: http://lamdepnhanh.vn/cach-nau-bun-bo-hue.html

Originated in Hue- the old imperial capital of Vietnam, this kind of noodle called “Bun Bo Hue” as the mean to denote its origin. One fun fact about Bun bo Hue is that the amount of salt in the recipe periodically change depends on seasons. Specifically, during summer, Hue beef noodle soup features soy bean, mint and different kinds of lettuce while in the winter, the recipe is saltier added with lemongrass and fish.

Photo Credit: http://vivudoday.com/kinh-nghiem-du-lich-hue.html

Photo Credit: http://vivudoday.com/kinh-nghiem-du-lich-hue.html

This table delicacy is considered as a part of the ancient capital’s culinary heritage. Nowadays, it has widely spread out and caught on from the North to the South.

Ho Chi Minh City – Bun mam

A totally different genre of noodle which brings out another tasty flavor to the “noodle – fans”.

Bun mam Photocredit: http://oneweeknotice.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/LL-Bun-Mam.jpg

Bun mam
Photocredit: http://oneweeknotice.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/LL-Bun-Mam.jpg

Along with the rice vermicelli noodles (which are slightly chewy and round in shape) and broth, bun mam wouldn’t be sufficient without an enormous collection of seafood, pork, eggplant, and chives, arranged on top.

Dressed with the dark and rich broth and topped with shrimp, slice of pork belly and a yellow tender and saturated eggplant Photo Credit: http://yesvietnam.vn/can-tho/bun-mam.html

Dressed with the dark and rich broth and topped with shrimp, slice of pork belly and a yellow tender and saturated eggplant
Photo Credit: http://yesvietnam.vn/can-tho/bun-mam.html

For further imagination, “Bun mam” – a robust Vietnamese noodles looks like “The Mekong in a bowl”. This dish composes contrasting flavors, textures and colors. Dressed with the dark and rich broth and topped with shrimp, slice of pork belly and a yellow tender and saturated eggplant, the flavors can captivate anyone who have tried it. Additionally, it wouldn’t be right to eat without being accompanied by an overflowing plate of shredded banana flower, water morning glory, and then an assortment of basil and lettuce because those stuff also contribute to create the unforgettable dish.

Photo Credit: http://vietnamcoracle.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/060-copy1.jpg

Photo Credit: http://vietnamcoracle.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/060-copy1.jpg


By Huyen Pham, ASEAN Correspondent from Vietnam