As most of you probably know, the most popular dish in the United States from Vietnam is pho. Maybe some of you have tried a bowl from Pho Mai on Mainstreet in Middletown or been to a Vietnamese restaurant in Chinatown. If you are interested in trying some I would suggest going to Thai Son on Baxter Street in NYC Chinatown. (Props to Duane and his family for introducing me to this place!) There are also a couple good places on Route 1 in New Jersey that my family goes to. Let me know if you are interested in checking them out and I’ll give you directions.
For those of you that don’t know, pho is simply noodle soup served with either beef (bo) or chicken (ga). Beef is generally the more popular of the two and the choice I almost always go for. I have yet to figure out how they make the broth but I was at a bookstore yesterday browsing through some cookbooks and they said the broth is made with spices like cinnamon, star anise, fennel, coriander, ginger and onion. The soup itself is pretty simple. It is usually served with rice noodles, thin slices of meat, onion, scallions and cilantro. The meat comes out a little rare so you have to dunk it into the hot broth to cook it to whatever degree you like your meat done. In addition to the bowl of soup, a plate of garnishes is served. It has raw bean sprouts, basil, lime, spicy peppers and a variety of spices and pastes. It is your job to add this stuff to the soup. I, being a boring eater at times, usually just add the bean sprouts, lime and Hoisin sauce.
Here are some pictures of pho that I have eaten.
These are some of the sauces you can use.
Pho is usually listed on the breakfast menu here but people will eat it all throughout the day. Since I’ve been sick I haven’t tried out any street food yet so I mostly eat at restaurants near my hotel which are pretty touristy. At these kind of places you can get a bowl for anywhere from 26,000VND to 40,000VND. The currency in Vietnam is called the “dong” (yes, very funny, I know) and about 19,000 dong is equal to one US dollar. So at a touristy restaurant you can get a bowl of pho for anywhere from $1.25 to $2.00. If you bought a bowl off the street it would probably be around $1.
I’ve been eating a lot of pho these past couple of days because I’m trying not to eat anything that will really upset my stomach. Plus, it’s the closest thing you can find to chicken noodle soup here. As my stomach grows stronger these food entries will become more interesting and exciting, I promise! I miss you all and the US a lot. Being physically sick makes being across the world from everyone even harder. Things will pick up soon though I hope, I’m staying optimistic.
Love from District 1 in Ho Chi Minh City. xoxo