Vietnamese Pho: A Bowl of Delicious Journey

When you think of Vietnamese food, what can you think of? I believe the first thing that comes to mind for most of you is Vietnamese Pho! Vietnamese Pho, a culinary treasure originating from Vietnam, has long won the hearts of countless diners around the world with its rich taste and unique flavor. It is not only a kind of delicious food, but also a reflection of culture, carrying the heritage of history and people’s emotions. So as the protagonist of our introduction today, how much do you know about Vietnamese noodles? Today, I take you from the history and culture of Vietnamese noodles and other aspects to our customers a comprehensive introduction.


When it comes to Vietnamese rice noodles, do you think it has a history of hundreds or even thousands of years like Chinese food? It might surprise you to learn that Vietnamese rice noodles, even though it’s a household name, have only existed for 100 years, positioning it as a “latecomer” in the realm of the rich food culture.

There are not many early records of Vietnamese noodles, and it is widely believed that the delicious noodles didn’t appear on the streets of Hanoi until the 20th century. Dating back to the 1920s, Hanoi kicked off the Vietnamese noodle scene, with the first Vietnamese noodle restaurant making its official debut at this time. Around the 1950s, the delicious trend spread to Saigon, with many believing that the Sino-French food culture of the Chinese Vietnamese, and French colonizers influenced it.

With the outbreak of the Vietnam War, there was a massive influx of Vietnamese refugees across the globe, and it was they who brought this delicious noodle from their homeland to all corners of the world. Especially after the 1970s, Vietnamese noodles found a new home in many countries. In Hong Kong, ethnic Chinese Vietnamese owners who had fled and returned to Vietnam during the two Vietnam wars ran numerous Vietnamese restaurants. These restaurants primarily focused on Saigon flavors, and most of them utilized Cantonese noodles in their preparation. Meanwhile, in Taiwan, many Vietnamese female expatriate spouses have embarked on food entrepreneurship, mostly operating as vendors and small stores.

In the U.S., some Vietnamese restaurants (mainly run by ethnic Chinese) serve not only Vietnamese noodles but also Chinese food, presenting a diverse culinary landscape. This series of spreads and evolutions have made Vietnamese noodles an irresistible food experience that is steeped in history, culture, and flavor.

Types of Vietnamese Noodles

There are various styles of Vietnamese noodles, which are mainly categorized into three specialties: northern (Bei Ky style), central (Hue style), and southern (Saigon style). In the northern regions, noodles are crafted to be thicker, broader, and chewier in texture. During the early times, the addition of aromatic leafy vegetables was infrequent, with chili peppers and limes being the primary choices. On the contrary, in the southern areas, vermicelli takes on a finer and thinner form, bearing a resemblance to kuey teow, a popular dish in the Malay Peninsula and Thailand. When tasting them, people usually add rich fresh spices and sprouts to add a fresh layer of flavor to the texture.

Let’s take a look at a typical menu of Vietnamese noodles:
  • Phở nạm bò: vermicelli with beef brisket
  • Phở gân bò: vermicelli with beef tendon
  • Phở bò chín: Beef tendon noodles
  • Phở bò viê: beef ball noodles
  • Phở tái: Ground beef semifreddo
  • Phở sách bò: Beef tripe flour
  • Phở gà: chicken powder
  • Phở hải sản: seafood powder
  • Phở tôm: shrimp powder
  • Phở xào: fried noodles
  • Phở chay: fasting noodles

Diners can arrange the carefully cooked beef on the noodles as they prefer. The procedure for making Vietnamese noodles involves gently immersing the noodles in the hot beef broth, followed by adding tender beef slices, chopped green onions, and cilantro. Additionally, you can spread thin slices of high-quality raw beef on the bottom of the bowl before pouring in the steaming hot broth. The broth’s heat is sufficient to gently sizzle these meat slices, turning them into an appealing pink hue.

Through this process, the artful combination of ingredients and the meticulous cooking technique elevate a bowl of beef rice noodles into a delectable dish that captures the essence of Vietnamese cuisine.

The Culture Behind

When it comes to the origin of the Vietnamese noodle soup base, initially the Vietnamese used chicken or pork soup base. However, during the French colonial era, the influence of French food culture entered Vietnam, and a beef version of the soup base was created. This transformation also demonstrates, to some extent, the diverse fusion of Vietnamese food. As for the habit of using chopsticks, it actually originated from Chinese food culture. Vietnamese people often use chopsticks as their daily utensils, a tradition influenced to some extent by Chinese culture.

Even the name of this cuisine is full of interest. Some believe that the word “pho” might have originated from the Cantonese pronunciation, while another theory proposes that the term “pho” could have been influenced by the French word “pot-au-feu” (French beef and vegetable soup).

Traditionally, beef rice noodles were a vendor’s specialty. Ingredients were carried in two boxes on bamboo stretchers. One box held hot soup with firewood or charcoal, the other had bowls, noodles, and condiments. Soup didn’t spill, flames didn’t burn. The pot’s position over a fire might link “phở” to “feu.”

Where to eat:

For authentic Vietnamese noodles in Toronto, Pho Anh Vu won’t disappoint. So what are you waiting for, grab your family and go savor a steaming bowl of Vietnamese noodles!

Address: 8360 Kennedy Rd b1, Unionville, ON L3R 9W4

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