How to Eat a Bowl of Pho Like a Professional

Pho is one of the classic Vietnamese dishes that is eaten by millions all over Vietnam, and increasingly enjoyed by people overseas. Pho is a staple for the Vietnamese, and it is often eaten to start the day as breakfast. You can enjoy it for dinner or lunch – here are a few pointers on how to eat Pho and what to expect from this flavoursome dish.


Pho- Did You Know?

There is some debate about how you pronounce this Vietnamese classic. Fuh? Faux? There are differences in regional accents in Vietnam but the chances are if you pronounce it either way the people at the Vietnamese restaurant will know what you are talking about. Pho actually refers not to the soup but the noodles, according to Many different soups are popular in Vietnam but Pho is the only one made with white rice flour noodles and these are always of a high quality.

The Pho Broth

According to, the best Pho broth is clear and has a staggering amount of flavour whether chicken or beef is used. The spice and herb combination includes star anise, cinnamon, cloves, cardamoms, and ginger. There are also often charred or roasted onions added to the soup.

Pho Herbal Garnishes

When the Pho arrives it will come either with a salad of herbs and vegetables on top of the broth, or in a separate basket. It is a good idea to take a good sip of the broth first so you can taste its simple pleasures before adding garnish. You will find Thai basil and beansprouts, and may also find Thai peppers, green onions, and coriander.

Pho Condiments

Pho is served with an array of condiments and you can enjoy any of these depending on your taste. Hoisin sauce, sriracha and the popular fish sauce are all normally served next to a bowl of Pho in a restaurant in the UK. However, in Vietnam the sauces are less common and it is not so usual to smother the soup in sauces. Try not to overpower the Pho with sauce. When the Pho is well-made and delicious, it doesn’t really need so much more flavour added. Some Pho broths are less powerful in their taste and could benefit from a touch of sauce, but the best don’t need it.

How to Eat Your Pho

When the Pho comes to the table you may be surprised to see that you have chopsticks as well as a small soup spoon. The chopsticks are there to help you eat the noodles that are a vital component of the soup. First, take a sip of the broth to taste the flavour. Shred some of the herbs onto the top of the soup and take another sip. Use the chopsticks to eat the noodles. Don’t be afraid to slurp. Once all the noodles and most of the herbs are gone, finish the bowl by raising it to your lips and polishing it off. Don’t worry, you don’t have bad table manners – this really is the way to finish a bowl of Pho.

Image courtesy of nuttakit/

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