Pho Hoa, a 50-year-old restaurant in HCMC’s District 3, features a southern-style bowl for almost $4, a high price in Vietnam, but well worth it for the savory broth and beef.
Since its humble beginnings as a small shop in the 1960s, the restaurant on Pasteur Street has become a beloved destination for the city locals, thanks to its aromatic broth, as well the variety of meats including brisket, beef tripe, trotters, tendon and meatballs.
A standard bowl costs VND90,000 ($3.84) and is quite filling, while a larger serving, priced at VND105,000 ($4.48), is available for those who want to eat heartily. The most affordable option is a meatless bowl of pho with only noodles and broth, priced at VND30,000 ($1.28) per bowl.
A bowl of noodle soup at Pho Hoa features a clear, non-greasy broth with a rich flavor and a pleasant beef aroma that delights customers. To create the broth’s signature scent, beef bones are simmered with spices.
The beef tripe pho is a favorite among customers, and it features thinly sliced, crunchy, white beef tripe. Customers who are unsure of what to order can choose a bowl with “the works,” accompanied by a cup of poached egg in beef blood broth. This side has a light, sweet taste with a hint of richness from the poached egg. Customers who want a side but don’t fancy beef blood can select other options such as a cup of meat in pho broth, priced from VND60,000 to VND90,000 ($2.56 to $3.84), or a cup of regular poached eggs.
Gina Lim from Singapore says she loves the food at Pho Hoa: “Despite the high price, the pho bowl is worth every penny due to its quality and toppings. That’s why every time I visit Saigon, I make sure to stop by and have it.”
Unlike in Hanoi, the pho here is served with blanched or raw bean sprouts, along with a basket of coriander, basil, and cilantro. Adding lime juice, fresh chili, red chili sauce, and hoisin sauce enhances the flavor of the bowl, which can be enjoyed with fried dough sticks to make it a full meal. Diners can also add seasoning directly to the bowl or prepare a separate cup of dipping sauce to dip their meat in.
Over the years, the shop has expanded and now boasts a more spacious and brighter setting than the original. It has an open space with stainless steel tables and chairs like most popular shops.
The open kitchen counter is located at the door, allowing guests to watch the entire cooking process.
The restaurant is open from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. every day.
Food bloggers and international newspapers frequently mention this establishment. Locals and foreign travelers both come to enjoy its offerings. Tripadvisor recently ranked the shop among the top pho restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City.