Vietnamese Southern Pho Vs Northern Pho

Many people wonder about the difference between the famous Vietnamese noodle soup known as Pho for North and South Vietnam. If you ask any Vietnamese, they will quickly tell you that there is a difference between the North and South Vietnamese Pho Noodle Soup.

The main difference between the northern and southern iconic Vietnamese dish known as Pho is that the southern Vietnamese Pho is sweeter than the northern Pho. North and south Vietnam also tend to use different meats to flavor the Pho, with both the north and south using a lot of beef. The spices or flavoring north and south Vietnamese add to the Pho are also different.

These unique differences only add to the debate within Vietnam and elsewhere on which Pho is the best and the tastiest.

The Great Debate Between Northern and Southern Pho

If you ask a Vietnamese person in Hanoi where to find the best Pho in Vietnam, undoubtedly, they will proudly tell you in Hanoi. If you ask a Vietnamese person in Ho Chi Minh where to find the best Pho, they will proudly tell you in South Vietnam.

If you ask Vietnamese living overseas to find the best Pho in Vietnam, they will probably tell you where they came from in Vietnam. This is the continued debate of the Pho noodle soup between the south and northern Vietnamese Pho.

The differences between the northern and southern Pho are as debatable as the Pho itself. But here are some of the major differences that you will find between the Northern and Southern Vietnamese Pho Noodle Soup:

Characteristic Northern PhoSouthern Pho
TexturesUses Rice NoodlesUses Rice Noodles (some say slightly thinner than the north)
Pho Broth Clean and Simple Broth Sweeter Tasting Broth
Meats Eat Mainly with Chicken and Beef Beef plus Meatballs
Toppings More green onions plus an array of Vietnamese herbs Uses more bean sprouts and herbs, including Vietnamese or Thai Basil
Sauces Vinegar, Fish Sauce, and Chilli are added for seasoning Lime, Hoisin sauce, Chili sauce, and fresh red chillis.
Northern and Southern Vietnamese Pho Compared.

If you look at the comparison between these two Phos, they are actually quite similar. Most Vietnamese people will say the number one difference between the northern and southern Pho is that the southern Pho’s broth is sweeter than the northern Pho’s broth. The South Vietnamese will also put meatballs in their Pho.

The sauces and spices that each use as toppings on the Pho are also different. The southerners use more hoisin sauce, whereas I rarely, if ever, see this sauce used in northern Vietnamese cooking.

Pho is one of the Vietnamese most iconic dishes. Because of this, no matter where you go in Vietnam, you will find someone who has an opinion on what Pho is better, taster, sweeter, or where you can find the best Pho in Vietnam.

Pho – Chinese and French Influence, Vietnamese Pefection

The history of the Vietnamese Pho is as interesting as the Pho dish. The Vietnamese Pho is influenced by Chinese and French cooking; they then perfected it to create Vietnamese Pho.

Pho came to North Vietnam in the mid-1880s when Vietnam was under French rule. Because Vietnam was a French colony, it is only natural that Pho has influences from French cooking. The word Pho is believed to be from “Pot Au Feu” or the French word for French Beef Stew.

The Vietnamese could not get all the ingredients to make the French Beef Stew, so they improvised and mixed Chinese, French and Vietnamese ingredients to make the delightful dish known as “Pho” or Vietnamese Noodle Soup.

The rice noodles and many spices were from China’s influences; the French gave the Vietnamese the love of red meat or beef. Beef Pho is still considered to be the most traditional Vietnamese Pho dish.

Traditionally the northern Pho was a straightforward kind of Beef Noodle Soup. But after 1954, as the dish started to move southward, more ingredients started to be added to this Vietnamese dish until we have the dish of Vietnamese Pho as we know it today.

The Vietnamese Beef Pho is filled with rice noodles and beef, beans sprouts, basil, and other herbs. It is served with vinegar, chiles, fresh lime, and other spices.

Pho – Rated One Of The World’s Top 50 Foods

The Vietnamese national dish of Pho was rated by CNN as one of the World’s Top 50 foods. The iconic dish of Pho shares the spotlight with favorites as French Toast, Maple Syrup, Catsup, Pizza, and Fish’n Chips.

Pho is also the second Vietnamese dish to be on CNN World’s Top 50 foods list. The Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls also made a list. You can read more about the Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls by reading the Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls Vs. blog. Salad Rolls Vs. Summer Rolls by clicking here. In this blog, you can find a link to our fresh spring rolls recipes and their dipping sauces.

In speaking about the Vietnamese dish of Pho, CNN said:

“This oft-mispronounced national dish (Pho) (“fuh” is correct) is just broth, fresh rice noodles, a few herbs and usually chicken or beef. But it’s greater than the sum of its parts — fragrant, tasty and balanced.”

CNN Travel

The Vietnamese have taken what can seem like the boring Chicken noodle soup we have in the west and added zest and flavor. They have taken a simple broth, added fresh herbs, limes, spices, and a host of other flavors to give you a soup that will burst through your taste buds.

Once you have eaten the Vietnamese Pho, you will never look at a chicken or beef noodle soup the same way ever again.

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Anita L Hummel

Hi, I live in Hanoi, Vietnam but spend time traveling the region. I love to share with you things I see and learn through my travels.

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Vietnamese Southern Pho Vs Northern Pho