If burger remind you about America, pizza is symbolized for Italy and sushi is specialty of Japan; then Pho is a synonymous dish with Vietnam. Whenever anyone say Pho, people always know it is a traditional food of Vietnam. Phở (or Pho) is Vietnam’s national dish which is famous all over the world and a travel to Vietnam without sample a bowl of Pho will be an incomplete journey.
Although Pho originated in North Vietnam, today you can find Pho shops everywhere in Vietnam. If you are an expat coming to Vietnam, just ask any locals about a Pho (or called fur) restaurant, they will show you the best one in their neighborhood.
In Vietnam, Pho is eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner; from a luxury restaurant to a street vendor with makeshift plastic tables. Although Pho is originally a Northern Vietnamese dish, it is now a ubiquitous part of Vietnamese’s culinary experience. And from time to time, Pho is made different from North to South, depends on the local taste.
Now I’m going to share with you 10 best Pho in Ho Chi Minh city, including long-standing Pho restaurants and new Pho chains.
Pho Hoa Pasteur
Pho Hoa is probably the most popular amongst travelers. What makes this restaurant the best pho in Ho Chi Minh city is because it’s located on Pasteur street, where numerous Pho restaurants gathered in the past.
The current owning family was passed on the recipe by Hoa, who used to sell pho on a tuk tuk, hence the restaurant was named after him in honor of his special recipe. Pho Hoa became even more famous since it was mentioned in many travel guidebooks and recommended on many travel forums or blogs.
Because of this, many eaters here are foreigners, that’s why the bowl size at Pho Hoa is slightly bigger that most of the local pho vendors, it’s a mega meal that can keep you full for the whole morning. Pho Hoa has atmosphere, quality food, and a great location all wrapped up in a perfect bundle. It’s easy to find glowing reviews for this place, which is why it’s famous for its signature dish.
Pho Hoa is more of a Southern style with lots of noodles, herbs and sprouts, sweet broth, and a bowl of Chinese cruller served as a side dish. Besides serving a delicious Pho, the restaurant’s’ decor also has the vibe of the traditional Vietnam from the 60s, which is a huge plus for travelers when visiting.
Address: 260C Pasteur, Ward 8, District 3 Ho Chi Minh City.
Pho Tau Bay
Phở Tàu Bay is one of the oldest and most famous Pho in Saigon, they have been running their business in Saigon since 1954 and quickly became popular with people here. The traditional Northern-style Pho isn’t serve with bean sprouts and thick sweet soy sauce, but to accompany the taste of South customers, they now also serve herbs in Southern-style Pho. However, they way Pho cooked is still that of the North.
The shop is located in a small alley but it’s always crowded. Most customers are middle-aged. Two things that shouldn’t be missed to talk about Phở Tàu Bay are ceramic spoon and fat sauce. It has been said that it’s tastier to eat Pho with ceramic spoon. They are most famous for “to xe lua” which is the largest size bowl here.
Address: 435 Ly Thai To Street, District 10, Ho Chi Minh City.
Pho Dau has been known among locals as the most authentic Northern pho in Ho Chi Minh for more than 50 years as the founder was Northern herself. The current owner is the oldest son of the lady who started it all, and he’s already 70.
Though operated for a very long time in Saigon, it still retains the original recipe of Hanoian style with lots of beef, no sprouts and herbs or black sauce like the Southern style and they use glutamate (a familiar spice of Northern families) for seasoning instead of sugar.
Locals in past generations usually refer to Pho Dau as Nguyen Cao Ky’s phở (who served as the chief of the Vietnam Air Force in the 1960s, before leading the nation as the prime minister of South Vietnam in a military junta from 1965 to 1967) as he usually paid his visits here. Rumor has it that everytime Nguyen Cao Ky craved for pho, he always took a flight to visit there.
The restaurant still stays humble inside an old apartment complex down a small alleyway, as it has since the first day of opening. However, it is always crowded and challenges your patience whilst waiting to be served for a best Pho in Ho Chi Minh city.
Address: Alley 288 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City.
Among the authentic pho restaurants in Saigon, Pho Le is one of those selling Southern pho that is favored by the people here. The 45-year-old Phở Lệ serves Southern-style Pho. There are many choices for you such as beef ball, rare beef, boiled beef, beef brisket, beef plate, beef tendon…
Compared to others, Pho Le restaurant appears much cleaner, more premium and the tables are always full, from early morning until midnight. That’s why Wall Street Journal called it “The crowd pleaser” amongst the best pho in Ho Chi Minh city. The shop is spacious, comfortable and always crowded.
Pho Le opened in 1950, with the first store in Nguyen Trai street District 5 (China Town) and now has another store in District 3. Interestingly, the owner is from Quang Zhou and his wife has relations with Cambodian royal family, however, they can deliver a excellent bowl of pho that suits the Saigonese taste impressively well. The broth is made from cow’s bones with cinnamon, cumin and cilantro, hence why the bowl is always flavorful but doesn’t make you satiated.
– 370 Nguyen Trai Street, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City.
– 303 Vo Van Tan Street, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City.
Despite sounding like an android from outer space, Pho 2000 will forever be remembered as the place where President Bill Clinton tried his first bowl of pho in Vietnam during his state visit in the year 2000.
He was so taken with the delicious beef marrow broth and glutinous noodles that he ordered a second bowl — or so the story goes. The fresh spring rolls are also excellent at Pho 2000 and together with your pho noodles can turn a tasty snack into a full meal.3
Pho 2000 is very close to Ben Thanh Market, so it makes sense to use this famed pho restaurant as a place to take a break from shopping and cool off. English is widely spoken here too, making ordering a hassle-free experience.
Address: 1–3D Phan Chu Trinh, District 1.
Pho Bo Vien Thap Cam
If famous guests and English menus sound too mainstream for you then this ageing shophouse surrounded by parked motorbikes is where you need to go. Pho Bo Vien Thap Cam (which is also the name of the dish) offers a limited number of options to an almost exclusively Vietnamese customer base.
They serve pho with both beef and chicken, which are hanging in a steel display cabinet at the entrance to the restaurant. Despite its less than immaculate appearance, bowls and cutlery appear clean and the taste is simply superb.
The broth is rich and flavorsome and there are many condiments to season the dish according to your tastes. We especially recommend the beef pho — the recipe from which the restaurant takes its name.
Even though it is in District 1, this small shophouse is quite difficult to find, close to where Le Cong Kieu branches off from Nguyen Thai Binh. From the main tourist centre, it is just south of Ham Ngai, the busy main road starting at Ben Thanh Market.
Address: 7 Nguyen Thai Binh Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.
I know, I know, franchises aren’t the coolest places to try, but don’t think this chain is the equivalent of KFC because actually Pho 24 is healthy, nutritious and a great option for first time visitors that want to try street food but are unsure of eating by the side of the road.
The name refers to the amount of ingredients that go into cooking each bowl, so you know there are many complex aromas with every bite. The broth here is subtly flavored with lemongrass and the bitter herbs work well with soft, sliced chicken or cubes of beef brisket.
There are many branches of Pho 24 all over Ho Chi Minh, usually within sight of famous tourist sites such as Notre Dame Cathedral and Ben Thanh Market.
There are also Pho 24 franchises in America, Australia, The Philippines and several other countries meaning you can enjoy the flavors of Vietnam once you return home.
Address: Nguyen Du Street, District 1 (in front of Notre Dame Cathedral).
Pho Thin Ha Noi
Pho Thin Ha Noi is just one block away from Turtle Lake roundabout in District 3 and gives visitors to Ho Chi Minh the chance to sample the original, northern style of pho.
This pho is served with fewer condiments and lets the flavors of the broth carry the dish with only scallions sprinkled on top as a garnish. This pho restaurant is a particular favorite with office workers looking for a quick, nutritious — and most of all, delicious — lunch.
With that in mind, it can get very busy in here around midday, but sometimes that is a bonus for visitors who love to see how locals act in their day to day life.
If you are looking for a restaurant serving the northern style of Pho in Ho Chi Minh, we definitely recommend Pho Thin Ha Noi.
Location: 170 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, District 3.
Pho Cao Van
The owner is Mr. Tran Van Phon, who is 90 years old, went South from the North to sell Pho on his Pho rolling cart. He’s one of the first people who brought pho from Hanoi to Saigon. He started selling pho on a small tuk-tuk, he had opened the restaurants on Tran Cao Van street before moving to Mac Dinh Chi street, hence naming the restaurant “Pho Cao Van”.
Phở Cao Vân was opened in 1952 and has been one of the best Pho in Saigon with its special recipe. There you can order a small bowl of egg to add into the Pho bowl. Foodies say only a Northern pho lover will favor the taste of Pho Cao Van: lots of beef, the broth is clear and not fatty.
The ingredients are strictly selected by the owner in order to deliver the best quality, combined with his long-time cooking experience, Pho Cao Van has a very special taste that can satisfy any guest, whether they are loyal ones returning or first time visitors.
Address: 25 Mac Dinh Chi District 1.
It’s located on the same busy Pasteur street with Pho Hoa, yet the vibes that this 60 year old restaurant gives you is totally different from the outside hustle and bustle. Pho Minh stays humble in a small alleyway, so you can easily bypass the place without noticing it and miss a chance to taste the best pho in Ho Chi Minh city.
Same as Pho Dậu or Pho Hoa, Pho Minh played a prominent role in the Saigon cuisine in in the old days, since alley 63 (Pasteur street) used to be a heaven of Northern cuisine. Phở Minh was at the peak of its popularity in the 1950s, where it was a favourite place for many politicians and artists in the South.
In recent days, the Pho shop is one of the best places to eat Pho in the city. It’s spacious with old tables and chairs. Escape the hustle and bustle city, customers come to this calm and peaceful place to enjoy the traditional Pho. Elders come there to go back in time and others come to try the original taste of Pho at this shop.
Nowadays, lots of restaurants that operated in the same period closed but Phở Minh still exists and welcomes many guests everyday. Pho at Pho Minh is served in 5 ways: eye round steaks, well done steaks, flank, tendon, or tripe. The broth is not given too much spice but simply made with ginger and grilled dry onion. The decoration is also really simple and airy with several wooden tables and chairs, guests are mostly locals so the restaurant is not often crowded.
Address: Alley 63 Pasteur, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1.