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Pho is a traditional Vietnamese food, a delicious but not fat dish that becomes a part in Vietnamese lifestyle, especially is for Hanoian. Pho can be found in every streets or lanes in Hanoi. Enjoying a bowl of Pho for breakfast is the habit of many Hanoian. Pho also be a must enjoying dish for tourist when they visit Vietnam. But how to enjoy Pho in a right way is a question that not many people can answer even Hanoian.
A bowl of Pho includes five ingredients: rice noodle, meat, herbs, broth, spices. Each of them have it own demands to have a good bowl of Pho: soft rice noodle, good meat, hot broth, fresh herbs and proper spices.
Pho has the best flavor when be served in the china bowl but not glass bowl or plastic bowl. The size of the bowl is medium, it can not be too large or too small. If it is small, the broth will be cool quickly and do not have enough space for all ingredients. If it is large, the eater will be full because of too much noodle, and they will lose the appetite before finishing.
Enjoying Pho have to has chopstick and spoon. Bamboo chopstick is the most suitable because it will not slippery for picking noodle. Curiously, a good Pho restaurant normally has a simple furniture. A good table for enjoying Pho is lower than the normal ones so that the broth will not be dripped into clothes while eating noodle.
Drinking beer or tea while eating Pho is a bad idea. Sipping a cup of rice wine is acceptable. But normally, People do not drink anything while eating Pho to enjoy all the delicious flavors carefully.
There are some criterias for a good restaurant of Pho. A big restaurant or hotel will never has a good Pho. If the restaurant serves not only Pho is also a not good choice for enjoying Pho. Choosing serving Pho only restaurant, eater will have chance to find a authentic Pho. And among the serving Pho only restaurants, choosing the serving chicken Pho or Beef Pho only, but not both of them.
A good restaurant of Pho has the large pot of stewing bone with much of bone inside, as much bone as tasty broth. If using gas or electric to boil the broth is also a not good one, because using the electric or gas is the small pot, it will do not have enough space for bone and the broth will not be sweet enough, the chef will uses the seasoning or sugar to cheat the taste of not gourmet. A good Pho restaurant usually uses the large pot with 1 meter height and 2 meter of perimeter that is burned by charcoal, even it is very hot around this area.
The meat also can be a criteria to evaluate a Pho restaurant. If it is a beef Pho restaurant, the meat that be hung in front of the chef must be cool with about three to four kg each peace, because the beef has the best flavor if it is cool. A good beef meat for Pho is has no grease, the color is not very dark or light, the meat should has deep red color and shiny at the cuts. If it is a chicken Pho restaurant, the chicken should be in natural environment grew up chicken. The meat of factory chicken is not fragrant and sweet. The weight of the chicken should be not over two kg, with the light yellow skin, bright pink meat, and no grease under skin. If the chef chooses the right chicken meat, the eater will feel the delicious flavor of the meat while chewing it.
The noodle is a very important part of a good bowl of Pho. Noodle must be fresh and put on a large basket. A good chef will blanch the noodle to boiled water few seconds to make it softer and then put it on a smaller basket for draining before put them in the bowl. Normally Pho is made for each bowl to avoid crushing.
Each area has a different kind of herbs to serve with Pho. In Hanoi, Pho is serve with spring onion that is about five centimeter long each, and a typical of herb of Hanoi named “Hung Lang”, the herb that is grew in the Lang village - a small village in Hanoi.
The last ingredient is spices. A good Pho restaurant usually arrange enough lemon, pepper, fresh chili, pickled garlic, and chili sauce on each table. Depend on habit of the eater, they can put the things that they love to their Pho bowl.
Pho is not only a delicious dish, but a part of Vietnamese culture. someone once said, Pho is the combination of the softness of meat, the limber of rice noodle, the spice of chili, pepper, the fragrance of spring onion and herbs, the sweetness of the broth, all of them make a “gentle mellow” delicious that never find in any dish else. Coming to Hanoi without eating a bowl of Hanoi Pho is considered as not come. Pho becomes a memorable experience to many foreign tourist when they visit Vietnam in general and Hanoi in particular.