It’s fair to say that pho is as Vietnamese as it gets. Is it Vietnam’s national dish? Probably. Who has the best one? We don’t know, although plenty will claim to have had it.
One district in Saigon that gets overlooked for having some of the best Vietnamese food in the city, is District 7. It’s easily forgotten that District 7 is more than Phu My Hung, Saigon’s unofficial Korean BBQ mecca.
Nearby Tan My’s central market are some of Saigon’s best pho joints you’ve probably never tried
But Phu My Hung with its malls, gated communities and highest amount of turbo-charged baby strollers per capita, is just a wee part of what is quite a large (and tasty) district.
Not far from the plumes of blue smoke and sounds of sizzling beef strips and raucous laughter of tipsy diners, is the neighbourhood of Tan Phu. Nearby its central market (Tan My) are some of Saigon’s best pho joints that you’ve probably never tried.
And true to Vietnamese bowls of pho the nation over, their creators have added their own little touch to the people’s dish, to make it their own. No wonder we can’t agree!
Here they are.
Pho Bo Ba Tap
If you love rich, beefy stock made with beef bones, then this is your place for pho tai. Pho Bo Ba Tap is our pick of the five in this list. It comes in at a bit pricier than other places in the area at VND45,000 for a bowl, but it’s well worth it. They could charge a lot more for this. The owners operate Banh Mi Ba Tap around the corner opposite the market where they also sell roasted duck (look out for that feature soon). Order an extra small bowl of xuong bo (approx. VND15,000) to top up your big bowl so you can finish everything off.
Pho Bo Ba Tap is at 42 Street No. 1, Tan Phu, District 7
Pho Bo 23
Located a couple of blocks on a street parallel to Tan My Market, Pho Bo 23 is a relaxing place for breakfast. Their pho looks and tastes as “clean” as it gets. For VND30,000 you get a lot for your dong, including bean shoots. The limes are plump, the chilis spicy and the service friendly. There’s not much more you need. Next door in the alleyway is a coffee shop that will serve your caphe sua da straight up to your table. Ah, that’s what you need.
Pho Bo 23 is at Number 23 Street 12, Tan Phu, District 7
Pho Ga Ha Noi
This is definitely for those who enjoy their chicken noodle soup Hanoi style. Another family-owned and operated business with friendly service. Pho Ga Ha Noi is consistent and they don’t scrimp on the herbs and bean sprouts. When we arrived recently for breakfast, the place was packed and trilling to the sounds of contented slurping by local residents. That’s as good as a five-star Foody rating right there. Like most of the joints this side of the canal, expect to pay VND30,000 for some of the best pho ga in the hood.
Pho Ga Ha Noi is at 118 Street No. 9, Tan Phu, District 7
You certainly know when you’ve had a bowl of Pho Sang – especially if you’ve added plenty of chili. Your eyes will be watering and you’ll be downing a second mug of tra da in no time. Here at this small joint that specialises in pho and bun bo, you’ll get served up the “pepperiest” bowl of pho we’ve had since the lid popped off the pepper shaker in Phu Quoc. It’s great if you love your savoury flavours, but be warned, go easy on the chili, because the blast from this little number at VND30,000 could light a furnace. The added bonus about Pho Sang is that it’s owned and operated by possibly the cheeriest chap we’ve ever come across, Mr Sang.
Pho Sang is at 59 Street No. 1, Tan Phu, District 7
Pho Co Hai
Pho Co Hai is run by an all-lady cast and they are very proud of what they dish up. Here the pho bo broth is substantially lighter than at other joints in the neighbourhood, so if you don’t like your soups too intense, this might be the place for you. We prefer ours with heaps of intense flavours, which means this place would come in at number five if we had to rank this list. Still, the service is friendly and the shop is light and spacious. Expect to pay VND39,000 for a standard bowl of pho tai. If you’re taking photos, the ladies will lend a hand styling your food!
Pho Co Hai is at 134 Street No. 1, Tan Phu, District 7