Vietnamese Noodles – Part 1: Pho, Hu tieu and Banh Canh

Phở Thìn Hà Nội

Vietnam has long been known as the homeland of an overwhelming number of noodles, from the world famous Pho to bowls of Hu Tieu sold every morning on the boats at the floating markets.

Each of the dishes is a perfect combination of the noodles, the broth, and other ingredients. These dishes, without a doubt, are the best proof of the diversity and delicacy of Vietnamese cuisine.

The world-famous Phở

Phở is a Vietnamese traditional noodle soup consisting of broth, flat rice noodles (called bánh phở), green onion, and meat, primarily either beef (bò) or chicken (gà). Phở is one of the most popular street food in Vietnam and Vietnamese people usually consume it at any time of day. In deed, you can actually have it anytime you want, but it’s usually said to be the best for breakfast since its fiery ingredients somehow wake up all of your senses and give you a lot of energy for the day. Although this dish appears on the menu of many restaurant chains around the world, you can only find its true authentic taste here on the streets of Vietnam. Hanoi and Saigon styles of Phở differ by noodle width, the sweetness of broth, and choice of herbs.

Southern specialty Hu tieu

Hủ Tiếu Việt Nam

Vietnamese Hu Tieu is a Southern cousin of Phở which usually consists of boiled pork and seafood and rice noodles topped with fresh herbs and a pinch of fried onions. This dish is deemed to be much more versatile as it can be served in different ways: Dry (khô) in which the noodles are either stir-fried or pan-fried, Wet (nước) with the noodles in a clear broth, or a combination of the two that has dry noodles with soup on the side. And if the toppings in Phở are strictly beef or chicken, in the case of Hu tieu, people tend to add everything they like from boiled pork, chicken or sometimes beef to assorted seafood such as fish balls, squid, shrimp, and imitation crab. Ho Chi Minh City can be considered to be the “holy land” of Hu tieu, you might encounter everywhere on the streets a small stall selling all kinds of Hu tieu. Sit down and enjoy a bowl for a very reasonable price just like the locals!

Bánh Canh

Banh Canh Cua, Hue
Bánh canh is a signature dish of the Central Vietnam. The Banh canh noodle has more or less the thickness of a chopstick,, made from tapioca flour or a mixture of rice and tapioca flour. Some people would describe it as similar to Japanese Udon. The soup base of Banh canh is usually cooked from pork, crab or shrimps, and the toppings can be fishcake, Vietnamese ham , shrimp balls or boiled crab legs. A special combination of a very thick broth with chewy noodles brings out a very unique taste, totally differs from other famous noodles of Vietnam. And just like the other two, Banh canh can be served at any time of the day on the street or in a restaurant, though sadly this dish is not a common menu item outside the central of Vietnam but it is undoubtedly worth trying once in a lifetime.

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