1st bowl of pho bo – and definitely not the last!

by saynotospandex

Vietnam was our first trip of 2010. We arrived on 2nd January, fresh & bright-eyed (having skipped all new year parties & celebratory events) to the “Welcome first international visitors of 2010” sign printed on a bright red banner in Ho Chi Minh’s airport.

Pho bo is Vietnam’s national noodle dish, or so we are led to believe. White rice noodles & thinly-sliced beef in a bowl of rich beef broth makes for the perfect 1st meal for me in Ho Chi Minh. (The Boyfriend is enjoying his beef tomato-based soup below with bahn, Vietnam’s answer to french loaf)

The soup was extremely satisfying; concentrated & sweet. You could tell that the chef spent hours by the stove brewing this with beef bones & parts to achieve the superior stock. They went fantastically well with the tender beef slices & silky noodles.

Condiments include plenty of bean sprouts, herbs like basil, raw onions, limes & the usual sauces which looks like fish sauce & chili. With all the garnishing available, how you customize your pho becomes a very personal thing. I like mine with plenty of squeezed lime & also bean sprouts!

In the later part of our trip, we discover marked differences in pho served in South Vietnam (HCM) and North Vietnam (Hanoi). Thinner noodles are used in HCM, and the noodle dish is often accompanied by bean sprouts & a generous serving of fresh, healthy herbs by the side.

Delicious sunny sidesups & queer lemongrass drink – stick with the coffee; you can never go wrong with that.

I was sitting there, wishing I’d the decency to order coffee!