Back in January of 2010 I came to live in Saigon permanently and my first apartment was on Tan Da Street in District 5 – an area of the city’s “Chinatown” also known as Cho Lon – a treasure trove of food, culture and history.
Just a couple of doors along I discovered a family-run pho establishment that’s been serving up what I think is the best pho in Saigon for the past 20 years.
I’ve eaten a f**k ton of pho since then, but I still keep coming back to this particular one whenever I get asked to list my all-time favourite or compile a top 5 list of pho joints one must try before they die.
Now, I understand that bestowing upon a humble pho joint like Pho 84 the title of Best Pho In Saigon is a bold (and brave) statement and which may just finally out me as a phony foodie once and for all, but for me, it’s the real deal, and quite frankly, I don’t care if anyone disagrees.
And herein lies the beauty of Vietnam’s unofficial national dish – no one can actually agree on what style is the best and who dishes up the best one.
You see, I prefer the southern style of pho that tends to be sweeter, more herbaceous, bold and brash – likely because that’s what I cut my teeth on all those years ago and have been eating ever since.
The same holds true for those who have an affinity with the northern style of pho – a more subtle, slightly less fragrant and infinitely more delicate and traditional dish that people up in those parts say is the only pho there is and should ever be!
After all, it originated up there.
Anyway, whatever your preference and even if you’ve never tried the stuff before, join me on this tasty instalment as I reconnect and continue to discover an area of Saigon that will always hold a special place in my heart.
I hope it makes your mouth water!
Words by Matthew Cowan. Follow Matt on Instagram at @mattcowansaigon
Filmed, edited & produced by Melanie Casul. Follow Mel on Instagram at @melaniecasul