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Tony Tan is an authority on Asian cuisine, and in a recent interview with The Sydney Morning Herald, gave an extensive guide to finding the best pho in Vietnam. Considered a staple of Vietnamese cuisine, pho is characterized by slippery rice noodles, often handmade, rich and flavourful broth, piles of fresh sprouts and a handful of sweet basil leaves.
From the north in Hanoi to the southern Ho Chi Minh City, pho restaurants are stereotypically hole-in-the-wall joints that only locals seem to know about. Luckily for Aussies, however, here's a guide to the best bites in Vietnam:
Comfort pho in Ho Chi Minh City
"Southern food is sweeter and spicier than up north," Tan told the news source. "The food is more artfully presented and heavily influenced by the neighbours, Thailand and Cambodia."
Although northerners scoff at the decadent plates in Ho Chi Minh City, these dishes are by no means sub-par compared to the pho in Hanoi. Locals eat the noodle soup for every meal, with an egg on their breakfast pho, and Aussies should not be afraid to follow suit. Even if diners get sick of noodles, they can still eat like a true Vietnamese resident by ordering banh mi (baguettes stuffed with liver pate, sausage, cilantro and pickled vegetables) and banh xeo (rice flour crepes filled with shrimp, pork and bean sprouts).
At Nha Hang Ngon, a large 400-capacity eatery in downtown Ho Chi Minh City, patrons will still have a hard time finding a seat during the lunchtime rush hour, so Aussies should be ready to wait a little while for a table to open up. Once they get in, they can feast on piles of pho and banh mi and wash it down with an ice-cold glass of Ha Noi beer.
Back to the basics in Hanoi
For Aussies staying in Hanoi hotels, finding the perfect bowl of pho is as easy as walking down the street and stepping into any number of tiny restaurants throughout the city. Unlike the noodle soup of Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi's pho is true to the dish's roots: simple, rich and unbelievably delicious.
"The flavours are more direct and straightforward," said Tan. "Servings are also smaller and - the northerners claim - more elegant, perhaps due to the several centuries of Chinese influence."
The best pho in town is undisputedly at Cha Ca La Vong, where dill meets fried fish in a glorious marriage of noodles and broth.
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