Phở (pronounced "fuh" in English) is a traditional Vietnamese noodle dish. It is composed of a thin white rice noodle, in a clear beef broth, with thin cuts of beef (steak, fatty flank, lean flank, brisket), tendon, tripe, meatballs, or other ingredients such as green onions, white onions, cilantro, basil leaves, lemon or lime, bean sprouts or chiles. In many restaurants, the last four items are usually provided on a separate plate, which allows customers to add as many or as few condiments to the broth soup as they desire. Some hot sauces can be applied to phở noodles as well.
It can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Many Vietnamese children will eat it before going to school, or when they come home for lunch or dinner.
This noodle dish had its origins in northern Vietnam and spread to southern Vietnam in the mid-1950s, after the defeat of the French and the eventual partioning of the country. Northern Vietnamese fleeing communist rule for South Vietnam introduced phở to their southern counterparts. With the arrival of Vietnamese refugees in the post-Vietnam War period, phở was also gradually introduced to Western countries, especially to France and the United States, both of which were major actors in Vietnam's colonial and post-colonial history. There are also many phở restaurants in Australia and Canada, as these countries had received many Vietnamese refugees and immmigrants.
In the United States, many phở restaurants are found in many Chinatowns, Little Saigons, and other communities with a large Vietnamese immigrant population. Many phở restaurants tend to use digits in their names (for example, Phở 54 Restaurant or Phở 888 Restaurant), which may have or may not have a significant meaning. For example, Phở 54 and Phở 79 signified the years when their owners fled North Vietnam and Vietnam, respectively. Also, in Vietnamese culture the number 8 is considered to be lucky. Just for the record, Phở 54 Restaurant is a small restaurant chain with origins in the prominent Little Saigon of Wesminster, California and with locations scattered in parts of Southern California. Phở Hoa Restaurant is among the largest phở cuisine chains worldwide.
As with many restaurants, the types of phở restaurants can range from small mom-and-pop "hole in the wall" greasy spoons serving low-priced phở to elegant dining establishments serving Vietnamese and fusion cuisine. Some of the first phở shops that opened up in the United States were in the city San Jose, California. Sauces such as hoisin, fish sauce, and the Sriracha style hot sauce are often popular condiments that go with every phở meal. In addition to noodles, many phở noodle restaurants in the U.S. may also serve other Vietnamese dishes such as rice combination plates called cơm tấm, baguette sandwiches (bánh mì), seven courses of beef (bò 7 món), and French-style coffee (cà phê sữa đá).
On many phở menus, phở noodle dishes come in several sizes and prices. Non-Vietnamese-speaking customers can order by using the corresponding number in English. For example, a "Number 1" might be a special extra large bowl (phổ đặc biệt xe lửa) with all the works (actual menus will vary with each and every restaurant). In many phở restaurants, the noodle dish is usually prepared in less than 5 minutes upon ordering. Jasmine tea is served, but coffee or cold Thai tea is typically appropriate with phở as well.
With relatively inexpensive prices and a large proliferation of phở restaurants in North America and France, phở is gradually becoming a favorite worldwide.
Vietnamese phở restaurants usually have the practice of not delivering the bill to customers' tables. Most tables usually have a numbering system.
Some Vietnamese restaurants have begun catering to non-Vietnamese customers by opening in other areas. Adapting to local tastes and diets, some Vietnamese restaurants in the United States have also started making chicken-based phở (phở gà) or even vegetarian phở, in addition to the traditional beef noodle soup. Seafood-based phở has also been known to exist. Another variation of phở involves using egg noodles instead of rice noodles. There is also a Korean version of phở available.
The word "phở" is sometimes used hilariously in slogans such as "What the phở?" and "phở-king" because it sounds similar to the word fuck. (Phở is actually pronounced as "fuh" in English or feu in French.) In some areas, Phở King is a name of an actual restaurant.
- Phở Hoa is a popular chain that serves many types of phở. Many phở enthusiasts feel their noodle dishes are "McDonald-ized" in the sense that as a franchise, their products are not as authentic. However, many laud their ability to introduce phở to those people who have never seen or tried it before.
- Phở List is a group of artists who share ideas of digital art over lunch (presumably a bowl of phở) at phở restaurants.
- A description of phở
- Phở bo recipe (with photo)