Pho is the quintessential must-try dish in Vietnam. It is a staple breakfast food, but no matter the time of day, you will find restaurants and street vendors serving the dish and many a contented soul crouching over a bowl and slurping the soup. Pho originated in Hanoi, so where better to try this dish than Vietnam? You can find it literally anywhere in Hanoi, and we’ve done our research and come up with this list of our favorite places to try this dish.
This rundown shop is located at the heart of the old quarter. Don’t be discouraged by the little stools and basic tables, this is the best pho joint in all of Hanoi and has been there since the ’60s, saving the same, consistent recipe that has remained unchanged since. You can tell you’ve arrived at the right spot when you see half of Hanoi queuing outside to get a fix, and, when table space runs out, people eat perched up on their bikes. The only thing on the menu is beef noodles, and the broth here is clear and rich with a subtle blend of many flavors. The beef is the right amount of tender and soft with a glowing pink hue, and no matter how many times you ask what their secret to the best bowl of pho is, they will not tell you!
Pho Thin is a little ways away from the center of Hanoi Old Quarter, but many people still make this journey, sometimes on a daily basis, just to have a bowl of pho here. Serving their loyal and new customers for over 30 years, every bowl of pho served here is consistent and never fails to delight its patrons. Pho Thin stands out from other pho restaurants because the recipe uses stir-fried beef instead of raw beef. Do not forget to order yourself some “quay,” dough sticks to dip into the broth and eat along with the noodles.
Due to its popularity and pho goodness, this restaurant now has three locations in Hanoi. The best one is still the original location down Ly Quoc Su Street and, as usual, the pho bowls here are cooked to perfection. The broth is subtle with no one flavor overpowering the others; the noodle perfect and the meat tender. There are six different kinds of pho here, all with beef, and prepared in different ways. Go easy on the spicy Sriracha sauce you find on every table; you don’t want to end up crying as you eat your meal. In addition to the good food, the service is fast (you can actually watch the pho chefs behind glass doors as they prepare the dishes in swift precision), the prices are cheap, so no wonder Pho 10 Ly Quoc Su made it into our list.
Like all famous pho restaurants in Hanoi, Pho Suong has been around for many years, having earned a loyal customer base. The pho here is nothing short of amazing, perfecting the broth, the noodles, the herbs, vegetables and the pieces of meat. Certainly, a steal at just VND $45,000 ($1.98), you can enjoy your meal here and then go off wandering down Dinh Let street past the souvenir and art stores and then to the lake where you can sit on a bench and digest. Of all the pho restaurants in this article, Pho Suong has the nicest interior.
Located within walking distance of Hanoi Old Quarter, Pho Vui specializes in beef noodles in many variations. You can get half-done steak, well-done steak, brisket with flank and fillet beef, etc. The broth may be fattier than those served in other restaurants, but it is delicious. Sit on one of the tables located on the sidewalk for a proper Vietnamese experience.
While traditional pho is made with beef, here you can get the modern adapted version with chicken. Opening only after the sun goes down, this location is famous among many young and trendy Hanoi youth, despite having to sit on the sidewalk on little child-sized plastic stools. You can opt for either the traditional soup-type pho or opt instead for the dry version of the pho, which is equally delicious if not more. Enjoy dinner here at least once and then go explore the rest of what Hanoi nightlife has to offer.