F-O. F-Uh. F-uoh. It took a while to get down the actual Vietnamese pronunciation of Pho, but thankfully I did because I want to order it from every street vendor I see. Unfortunately, actually pronouncing Pho isn’t so easy and we spent one evening at the reception desk of our hotel repeating the name of the dish over and over again providing an absolute endless amount of laughter for the staff.
Vietnam wasn’t my first introduction to Pho. Back in DC, a coworker convinced us to go to a ‘hole-in-the-wall’ Vietnamese restaurant one day for lunch. Hesitant, but willing to try something new, I dove right into my rice noodle and meat soup and from that day forward I was hooked. Fortunately my chop stick skills have greatly improved since then and I can now eat Pho with chopsticks without splashing it all over myself in the process. Eating noodle soup with chopsticks, now that’s a serious life skill.
Noodles in Asia are served slightly differently than in the West, they’re usually served in broth. Pho is a bowl of rice noodles in broth that’s usually served with meat, bean sprouts, chilies, basil, and sometimes peanuts. Until we got to Vietnam I had actually never seen it prepared, so when the Pho vendor placed thinly pounded raw beef on the bed of noodles I had to cringe. Seconds late the beef cooked before my eyes as he poured in boiling hot broth.
Without realizing I was sitting next to a novice, I dug right into my Pho. Following my lead, Danny started in on his bowl and after a few bites pronounced it delicious. A few days later, midway through another bowl of Pho, Danny randomly decided that he actually liked using chopsticks for noodles…the next thing I knew we were shopping for a set of chopsticks. Maybe they’ll never be used to eat some Pho, but there’s always hoping!