Vietnamese Phở Bò Chín: Phở-nomenal culinary adventure from South East Asia
Imagine you’re wandering through the bustling streets of Saigon, the air is filled with an array of tantalizing aromas, and your stomach grumbles in anticipation. This was me, a curious Australian traveller, in search of the legendary Vietnamese dish: Phở Bò Chín.
Let me tell you a funny story. I had heard that the best Phở Bò Chín was found in a small, unassuming eatery nestled in District 2, in Ho Chi Minh City. Eager to taste this culinary delight, I marched in, confidently ordered in my best Vietnamese, only to be met with a bemused look from the owner. Turns out, I had accidentally ordered a plate of chicken feet! Amidst laughter, the owner kindly corrected my order, and soon, I was presented with a steaming bowl of Phở Bò Chín.
International acclaimed, Phở-tastic, noodle dish from Vietnam
So, what exactly is Phở Bò Chín? It’s a traditional Vietnamese soup that is both hearty and aromatic. The dish originates from Northern Vietnam, where it was developed in the early 20th century near Hanoi. It quickly became popular throughout the country and has since gained international acclaim.
Bò Chín = ‘cooked beef’
The soul of Phở Bò Chín lies in its broth, which is typically made by simmering beef bones, oxtails, flank steak, charred onion, ginger, and spices like star anise, cinnamon, and cloves. This creates a rich and flavorful base that is both complex and comforting. Into this broth, thinly sliced pieces of beef (Bò Chín means ‘cooked beef’) are added, cooking gently in the hot liquid.
Bánh phở = flat rice noodles
The dish is then completed with flat rice noodles, known as bánh phở, and a variety of fresh herbs and vegetables like basil, cilantro, bean sprouts, lime wedges, and sliced chili peppers. These additions bring freshness and a burst of flavor, balancing the richness of the broth.
Phở Bò Chín is more than just a meal
In Vietnam, Phở Bò Chín is more than just a meal; it’s a cultural experience. It’s typically enjoyed for breakfast, but you can find it at any time of the day. The best Phở is often found in small, family-run stalls or street-side eateries. These places might not look like much, but they often hold the secrets to the most authentic and delicious versions of the dish.
The experience of eating Phở Bò Chín is interactive and personal. You’re encouraged to add the fresh herbs and other condiments to your liking, making each bowl uniquely yours. And here’s a tip: slurping is not only acceptable, but it’s also encouraged! It’s a sign that you’re truly enjoying the dish.
Phở Bò Chín is a must-try for anyone visiting Vietnam. It’s a dish that tells a story of tradition, culture, and exquisite flavors. And as for me, the Australian traveller who once ordered chicken feet, it’s a delicious reminder of the joy and unexpected adventures that come with exploring new cuisines.
Phở is a traditional Vietnamese (beef) noodle soup made with flat rice noodles called bánh phở, herbs, and meat — either beef (phở bò) or chicken (phở gà).
Vietnamese Phở or Phở Bò is the culinary experience par excellence worth trying when visiting Vietnam. It’s probably the most famous Vietnamese dish, and now it’s your chance to try it first hand in the country of its origin. Phở Bò Chín is the version served with well-done, thinly sliced beef briskets.
Spelling and Dish Variations
- Phở Tái – served with thinly sliced under-cooked rare beef that is cooked straight in the bowl
- Phở Nạm (Chín) – served with well-done sliced beef
- Phở Bò Viên – served with meat balls