(55 Nguyễn Cư Trinh, Hồ Chí Minh)
This Phô place was basically 30 meters from my Airbnb and came highly recommended by a friend. I blindly walked across the road confronting a million scooters all swaying wildly around me, the hangover shaking off the last dregs of fear, and seated myself at the back away from as many people as possible. The bowl arrived within a couple of minutes and at first glance it looked decent.
Looks can be deceiving. This was one of the more mediocre Phô I ever ate in Vietnam. The broth was wish-washy, no real structure or depth of flavour to it. The meat was chewy and the noodles were basic.
Not worth risking life and limb crossing major roads in Vietnam for.
(413-415 Nguyễn Trãi, Phường 7, Quận 5, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam)
Being able to almost correctly judge food based on it's appearance is a tricky business. Most of the time you get surprised, but quite often you also are bang on. After clambering on the back of a Grab Taxi Scooter and hurtling at 60mph through the insane Ho Chi Minh traffic I arrived at Phô Le. A local favourite. I was excited to see what all the fuss was about since the reviews online were generally flattering and trustworthy.
I'm beginning to see a pattern developing when locals recommend something in Vietnam. They prefer the "weaker, thinner broth" whereas I prefer the bolder, deeper flavours of Phô Quynh. The Phô ended up squarely in the middle of the pack, the broth was almost tasteless, the noodles on point, the meat a slight improvement on a couple of other spots, and the price was agreeable. However, like in Japan where most locals enjoy really really heavy/fatty Tonkotsu, the Vietnamese seem to prefer the lighter things in life, and that just ain't my bag baby.
(25 Hàng Giầy, Hàng Buồm, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội)
If you're ever in Hanoi, a good bet would be to start your evening inebriations with a visit to King Pirates and drink a gin tonic with Madame Thu. Her heavy pours will soon have you hankering for a bowl of loving Pho, and as luck would have it, 40 meters down the road is Pho Vui.
A tiny, slightly rough around the edges, place guaranteed to put a smile on your face with the rich broth, tender meat, perfect noodles and condiments, and all for a fraction of the price of most tourist traps. This is a definite hole-in-the-wall discovery that you'll keep going back to.
( Soi 10, Maharat Road, Krabi Town 81000)
If you happen to spend an extra night in Krabi town on your way to the amazing islands nearby, do not miss out on this. Head down to the night market, EARLY!!, because this sells out before 7pm usually. Find the Khao Soi stall, its a lady standing with 4 big pots of different meats simmering on the counter, and some condiments in front to personalise your bowl. It costs 50 Bhat!! And tastes absolutely divine. Great, thick, flavoursome broth, the soft and crunchy noodles, and slow-cooked tender beef.