The Best Phở in Saigon

First published April 2014 | Words and photos by Vietnam Coracle

Vietnam’s best-known dish, phở is a beef noodle soup that’s defined by the complexity of its broth. There’s a constant squabble between north and south over which has the best phở in the country – an argument that the north usually wins, largely because this is where the dish originated, sometime is the early 20th century. For my part, despite having lived in the south of the country for 8 years, I agree that northern phở trumps southern. The main reason for this is that the northern broth has more depth and magic to it than the sweet, watery versions you find in the south. In particular, finding an outstanding bowl of phở in Saigon has always been a difficult task. However, although I cannot claim to have tried every bowl in the city, I have now found one of which I can say, with confidence, is the best phở I’ve ever had in Saigon.

This is the best bowl of phở I've had in SaigonPhở Phượng occupies a quiet corner at 25 Hoàng Sa Street (view map), in Saigon’s District 1, opposite the newly developed, tree-lined banks of the Thị Nghè Channel. Phở Phượng moved to this location two years ago from its previous site at the nearby Điện Biên Phủ traffic circle, where it had been operating for 30 years. With over a generation of experience there’s a calm confidence about Phở Phượng. From the outside there’s nothing to distinguish it from similar eateries all over Saigon, but when the rich, meaty aroma first hits you from the bubbling cauldron of broth, you just know you’re in for something special.

For me, this phở begins and ends with cinnamon: it’s the fragrance that dominates the broth from the first moment you smell it, and it’s the taste that lingers in your mouth long after the meal is over. But, while cinnamon is the high note of this bowl of phở, it’s complemented by a background of deeper tones, such as star anise, cloves, shallots and, of course, beef. Once you add sawtooth coriander, basil leaves and a squeeze of lime the broth takes on an almost medicinal quality – deep and soothing like an exotic Vick’s Vaporub that spreads, warms and cleanses your body.

Ms Phượng, a sturdy, stern woman from the north, is the proprietor, and she seems justifiably proud of her product. Like all the best places to eat in Vietnam, Phở Phượng is a family-run business, and this is their one and only outlet: there are no other branches. A bowl of phở here is 45,000VNĐ ($2) and it’s open all day. Address: 25 Hoàng Sa Street, Đa Kao Ward, District 1, Saigon; Tel (08) 3910 2422 [MAP]

Images of the best phở in Saigon at Phở Phượng:

A bowl of the best Phở in Saigon

Serving up another magic bowl

Phở Phượng just before the lunchtime rush

The bubbling broth

Customers await their bowl of phở

Just look at those colours!

A smoothly-run, family business

Fresh ingredients

 

RELATED CONTENT: Saigon’s Cafes | One of the Best Soups in Vietnam | Top 5: Things To Do in Saigon

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This entry was posted in ALL, DESTINATIONS, FOOD & DRINK, Noodles, Saigon, Soups, Street Food, The South and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to The Best Phở in Saigon

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  6. Lisa says:

    Tom! We usually have pho ga, but since our friends were visiting from the States, we just had to have pho bo. This place was AWESOME. Hands down, best Pho in town. Thanks for sharing this info.

    Lisa

  7. danny says:

    Food was good but I’m pretty sure we got charged a foreigner price of 48000 dong a bowl vs what other people paid.

  8. Kimberly says:

    We went here for lunch and it was amazing. Really great flavors. Thanks so much for putting this on our radar!

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  14. Martin says:

    I need to try Phở Phượng, but for me the Nr.1 is a small family run eatery with just two tables on a Saigon river shore on 598/19 Trần Xuân Soạn street, in District 7 🙂

  15. Jonnie Emsley says:

    Hi!

    I discovered this place a few months ago as I live nearby, and drew the same conclusion as you- hands down the best I’ve tasted. It’s very funny seeing another fellow foodie has experienced this too! I enjoyed reading this!

  16. An says:

    Hi Tom,
    I think Phở Phượng is a bit sweet and salty to my taste (or maybe because I was there in the evening, the both had became much more concentrated? hmm). I often go to Phở Loan on Hoàng Văn Thụ st. It’s on the same side with the famous bánh mì 110 🙂

  17. iaM Jessi says:

    Hi. I’d really love to recommend to you this famous place: Phu Gia noodles at 146E Ly Chinh Thang Dist.3.

  18. Katherine says:

    Looking forward to trying this place out. I also love a rich broth with notes of cinnamon, however my husband is convinced pho from the south is better because the meat is more tender. This can only be solved by eating more pho!

    • Hi Katherine,

      That’s interesting, I don’t think I ever noticed that the meat was more tender in the south – I’ll also just have to eat more pho to find out 🙂

      Hope you enjoy my favourite place in Saigon.

      Tom

  19. James Clark says:

    This is not far from where I live and yet I had never been! Great recommendation and I will be back 🙂

  20. Bob says:

    Hi Tom
    It looks delicious. My daughter teaches in HCMC so I will be forwarding this piece to her. We had Pho in several places when I visited in November but missed this place…but will be sure to hit when I visit this fall. There is only one place in my town that serves Pho, so we make do, but I cant wait to return. BTW you should send this to Anthony Bourdain!
    I Enjoy your writing,
    Bob

    • Thanks, Bob. Let me know what you think after you’ve tried it. Regards Bourdain – sure, I’ll give it a go. This pho place is right next to the ‘Lunch Lady’ which Bourdain played his part in promoting back in a 2009 episode of No Reservations.
      Tom

  21. Jodi says:

    Have tried. Can confirm. Would eat again. 🙂

  22. Christian says:

    Hi Tom,
    thanks a lot for this new interesting place to try! I’m literally Pho-addict! and normally when I’m in HCMC I love the pho bo of Pho Le (http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g293925-d3741121-Reviews-Pho_Le-Ho_Chi_Minh_City.html) I was wondering if you ever tried their Pho!

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