In Singapore, pho is the only Vietnamese noodle type that most locals are familiar with. But the range of Vietnamese noodles isn’t just limited to pho! So let’s discover the different types of Vietnamese noodles.
Pho is a rich noodle that is a bit similar to kway teow, and it is usually accompanied by a tasty broth. The broth is the essence of the dish, and is typically made by stewing beef bones with a variety of ingredients such as ginger, cardamom, shrimp, and herbs like cilantro. Cooking pho is a complex process with myriad ingredients, and the process varies with each chef.
The very first pho created in Vietnam was beef pho, followed by chicken pho. Duck pho creations have also been attempted, but with considerably less success.
Pho differs across the various regions in Vietnam. When Vietnamese discuss about pho, they will have plenty to talk about—from the pho in Hanoi to the pho in Nam Dinh, Hue or in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh city). Some hypothesise that pho originated in Nam Dinh, but only became famous in Hanoi.
Northern Pho vs. Southern Pho
The pho in Nam Dinh and Hanoi are quite similar, and they are collectively categorised under “Northern style Pho”. Northern style pho is generally saltier than Southern style pho.
In Hanoi, some of the famous pho restaurants include Phu Xuan in Hang Da Street, and Bac Nam in Hai Ba Trung Street. One can also find pho in street food booths, and even food trucks! In Hanoi, people often eat Pho with fried breadsticks or youtiao (油条), known as “Quẩy” in Vietnamese.
Nam Dinh, a province 90 km southeast of Hanoi, is well-known for its succulent beef Pho. Typically, every Nam Dinh family has its own secret pho broth recipe that is passed down through the generations.
Pho in Saigon (a city in Southern Vietnam) differs from that in the North—it tastes sweeter, and is usually accompanied by a small bowl of fatty beef bone soup and an additional plate of green chilies, lime, bean sprouts, celery, basil leaves, and other toppings.
In addition, the Southern pho broth has a milder, less penetrating taste than that in the North. This is likely because Southern pho broth is often made from stewing chicken bones, whereas Northern pho broth is made from beef bones.
Cooking pho is a complex process that involves myriad ingredients, and the process varies with each chef.
Pho in Hue (a city in central Vietnam) is served in a smaller bowl and contains less herbs. Pho is not very famous in Hue as it is overshadowed by another noodle dish—the Bún Bò Huế (Hue beef bee hoon).
There is a Vietnamese restaurant in Singapore that refers to Bún Bò Huế as the ‘royal beef noodle’. Its broth is also a secret recipe, with a complicated list of ingredients and a complex cooking process. The noodles used in Bún Bò Huế are similar to bee hoon. It is usually served with beef and pork knuckles, as well as a variety of herbs. Bún Bò Huế is also a popular dish in Vietnam.
There are still more types of noodles in Vietnam, such as Bún Giả Cầy (bee hoon with braised pork knuckles), Bún Cua (bee hoon with crab), and Bún Cá (bee hoon with deep fried fish). If you want to try all these dishes, we recommend visiting Nam Dinh, where one can find food and accommodation at extremely affordable prices.
As for authentic Vietnamese pho in Singapore, the two best-known places amongst the Vietnamese community are Long Phung (159 Joo Chiat Road) and Nam Nam Noodle Bar. For “Bún Bò Huế” (Hue Beef Bee Hoon), you can visit Wrap and Roll (Star Vista Mall #B1-11).
Famous Noodle Restaurants Across Vietnam
- Pho Suong: 24 Trung Yen alley, Dinh Liet
- Pho Ly Quoc Su: 10 Ly Quoc Su street, Hoan Kiem district, Hanoi.
- Pho Thin: 13 Lo Duc street, Hai Ba Trung district, Hanoi.
- Hang Trong Beef Noodle: 1 Hang Trong street, Hoan Kiem district, Hanoi.
- “Ms Lam” Chicken Pho (Phở gà bà Lâm)
- Mai Anh Chicken Pho: 32 Le Van Huu street, Hai Ba Trung district, Hanoi
- Pho Nho: 27A Huynh Thuc Khang street, Dong Da district, Ha Noi
Pho 24: There are several branches at
– 1 Hang Khay street
– 3 Thi Sach street
– 91 Ba Trieu street, Vincom city tower, Level 5.
– 45 Huynh Thuc Khang street
– 69 Tue Tinh street
– 61 Van Mieu street
– 79 Trang Dang Ninh street
– 37 Phan Dinh Phung street
– 191 Giang Vo
In Nam Dinh:
Pho Sinh: 111 Nguyen Du street, Nam Dinh City, Nam Dinh Province
- Around a church called Big Church (or Nha Tho Lon in Vietnamese), you can find many restaurants selling various styles of noodles. The church can be easily spotted at Tran Hung Dao street.
- For a taste of Bún Bò Huế in Hue:
- Journalist Association Beef Noodle (Bún bò hội nhà báo): 22 Le Loi street
- Chi Gai: 3 Le Duan street
- O Cam: Phan Dang Luu garden flower
- Chi No: Intersection of Han Thuyen street and Dinh Tien Hoang street
- My Tam: 24 Le Duan street.
- Bun Ba Tam (Mrs Tam Noodle): 43 Nguyen Cong Tru street
- Bun Ba My (Mrs My Noodle): 71 Nguyen Cong Tru street
- Bun Ba Tuyet (Mrs Tuyet Noodle): 37 Nguyen Cong Tru street
- Bun Bo Gio Heo: near intersection of Nguyen Du street and Chi Lang street.
However, if you are travelling to Vietnam to savour flavoursome pho, Hanoi and Nam Dinh are the two best places to do so.