Editor's note: Luong Huu Tin, a Vietnamese living in Ho Chi Minh City, filed this story to join Tuoi Tre News' discussion on pho in the north and south of Vietnam. It was edited by Tuoi Tre News for clarity, consistency, and coherence.
As a neutral person, I see no point in debating which flavor of pho is better. It depends on your appetite. If you prefer gentle and light flavors, northern pho is for you. If you like sweetness, fatty broth, and green herbs, just eat southern pho. There is no specific answer to the argument because it depends on whom you are asking.
I grew up in the south, and I have eaten pho my whole life. To me, pho is an ordinary dish. You could have it for breakfast, lunch, or even dinner. Pho deeply connects to my daily life, even though I don't eat pho every single day. I really appreciate pho, but I did not go for the way people portrayed pho as the signature dish of Vietnam or one of Vietnam’s famous dishes. It seems overrated.
If you have a high income, you can go to Landmark 81 (Vietnam’s highest building, located in Ho Chi Minh City) and try the US$100 pho being served there. However, many places sell pho for only $2, and it is still delicious. Once again, pho is pho, no matter what you call them or if its price is high or low.
Many foreigners would think Vietnamese people eat pho every single day, but the truth is there are many dishes to choose from other than pho. They may find pho special because they have never eaten it before. I bet they will run away if they have to eat pho for three meals a day. And I feel the same way, too.
Living in the south, I get used to the sweet and fatty broth of pho, but I won't say I genuinely enjoy it. I prefer the gentle and light flavors of the north. Being a southerner, I would be called an outcast if I say I like northern pho, but yes, I prefer it to the southern variety.
|Northen-style pho is served at a restaurant in Hanoi's Hoan Kiem District. Photo: Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News|
There is a place that my mother and I, on a special occasion, come to have pho. Located at 355 Phu Tho Hoa Street in Tan Phu District, the spot is owned by a middle-aged, northern man. He has brought the flavor of the north to the south. I love the broth since it's not bold or fatty, but just balanced enough. I love the simplicity of the dish in the place. Besides, since southern people enjoy eating pho with green herbs and mung bean sprouts, he also provides them for customers. It shows that he did keep the tradition of his pho, but he still respects the region's eating habits. I really appreciate that adaptation.
|An illustration photo shows a bowl of pho served with veggies and hoisin sauce in southern Vietnam. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News|
All I want to say is, 'Why do we have to care about which pho is better?' Whether you like northern pho or southern pho depends on if the flavor suits you and only you. You should feel special about that. I like northern pho, you like southern pho, and we shall have a bowl of pho of our own.
P/S: I feel pretty proud when a Vietnamese dish gets so much attention, but from the bottom of my heart, I must say: eat something else y'all, Vietnam has many famous dishes, not only pho. How about bun bo Hue, hu tieu or banh canh?