Editor’s note: People from Vietnam and abroad expressed their thoughts on the Vietnamese national dish on the occasion of the 'Vietnam Phở Festival 2023,' to be held in Tokyo next month.
The following comments have been edited by Tuoi Tre News for clarity, consistency, and coherence.
Micka Chu from France: 'Pho was the first Vietnamese dish I liked'
When I first came to Vietnam seven years ago, I was not acquainted with Vietnamese food. When I came across a large and fragrant bowl of pho with lots of vegetables, I knew I had found something I could eat. Pho was the first Vietnamese dish I liked, and it helped open the door to other Vietnamese dishes.
|Micka Chu enjoys 'pho' in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Son Trang / Tuoi Tre
I think the Vietnam Phở Festival 2023 in Tokyo is an opportunity to connect Japanese and Vietnamese culture.
The festival will not only bring pho to Japan but also many 'versions' of the dish to the Japanese people, so it is a very good chance for everyone to know that Vietnam is very diverse and very interesting.
Dajana Hoxhaj from Albania: 'A symbol of Vietnamese cuisine and culture'
In my opinion, what makes pho famous worldwide is its unique flavor, aromatic broth, and the combination of spices which all give it a distinctive taste. I think that the fact that it is healthy also helps a lot. Moreover, it has cultural significance in Vietnam. It’s one of the first dishes that people who travel to Vietnam try since it’s a symbol of Vietnamese cuisine and culture. In this way it has gained recognition in many countries and it is widely available internationally.
|Dajana Hoxhaj is seen in this supplied picture taken in Hanoi.
Promoting pho through festivals is a great idea as it provides opportunities to celebrate Vietnam and its culture. It can also educate people about the complexity and artistry involved in making pho, in this way fostering appreciation, understanding, and respect for Vietnamese cuisine.
Moreover, I think that it would be great to have such a festival in Albania, where Vietnamese cuisine isn’t popular yet and many people haven’t had the chance to try Vietnamese food. This cultural exchange for sure would foster cultural connection and appreciation.
Daniel Ansel Tingcungco from the Philippines: 'The smell of pho is very iconic'
To be honest, at first, I wasn’t really a fan of pho but as I got to try a lot of different places, I started to appreciate the nuances of flavor it has. I started becoming a fan of it, so I make sure that I try it at least one every week.
Usually I would just enjoy putting lime to cut through the oils and the savory flavors and maybe just add a little bit of chili and pepper. I like it a bit more spicy, but not too spicy. And I would put the chili sauce and the hoisin sauce on the side, just for the meat and as a compliment, and because I want to enjoy the full character of the broth. In a way, that's the beauty of Vietnamese soups in general. They give you all these condiments so that you can give it your own character. Even if it already has its own flavor, it's good to add a bit of yourself so you can enjoy it more.
|Daniel Ansel Tingcungco enjoy 'pho' at a restaurant in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Son Trang / Tuoi Tre
I feel like it's important to have those festivals because they invite a lot of people to come in. And for me, the smell of pho is very iconic. You can smell it from far away and know there's a pho place, so for sure, it'll arouse curiosity for a lot of people there.
Vietnamese food is becoming popular in the Philippines, too. In recent years, there are a lot of Vietnamese restaurants popping up. If you have a festival there, then it would be a success.
Ly-An Luz Jalandoni and Chareese Angela Abat from the Philippines: 'Pho represents Vietnam'
In Iloilo, there is a famous Vietnamese restaurant and we find it amusing that Filipinos love pho. It is our go-to place when we miss Vietnamese food, especially chicken pho.
Pho is the dish we love the most. It has a clean and savory broth that can be enjoyed during times of fatigue and burnout. There's a taste of balance between the freshness of herbs, spices, rice noodles, and the meat of choice.
Pho is a must-try dish when visiting Vietnam. There's a huge difference in tastes when it comes to Vietnam and the Philippines. We think it's because Vietnam has been serving pho regularly and the ingredients needed to make a delicious bowl are all available there while in the Philippines, it's a bit of a challenge to get the same ingredients.
|Ly-An Luz Jalandoni (left) and Chareese Angela Abat introduce Vietnamese coffee at an event in the Philippines in September, 2022 in this supplied photo.
Pho is a famous dish around the world. Besides robusta coffee, pho represents Vietnam. Pho has a unique and distinct taste that everyone gets attached to. It represents history, culture, and the people who made it popular today. It is famous because of the authenticity of its taste. When you enjoy it, you'll think of Vietnam right away.
Also, having a pho festival can contribute to long-lasting relationships between the Filipino and Vietnamese communities. It is also a way to showcase the interpretation of how our country can incorporate or tweak the unique flavor of pho to our very own noodle soups such as pancit molo, batchoy, mami, and more.
Liz McGrath from Australia: 'Very popular in Australia'
I clearly remember my first bowl of pho, it was in 1994 in a Vietnamese restaurant in the Melbourne suburb of Richmond. It was served along with a plate of mint, bean-shoots, chili, and lemon wedges. I found it tasty and satisfying and was immediately hooked!
I have enjoyed pho on each of my three trips to Vietnam. On my most recent trip we had pho on our first night in Vietnam, in a small and very busy restaurant recommended to us by hotel staff. It was in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City and seemed to be full of locals.
|Liz Mcgrath (second from left) poses for a photo with her family during a trip to Vietnam. Photo: Supplied
It is a very popular meal in Australia these days, as it’s available in most shopping centers and many cafés. I think Australian diners really appreciate its fresh balance of flavors and the warming, healthy feeling it offers. Somehow, it’s a soup that seems both light and hearty all at once.
I think a pho festival could be a big hit in Melbourne. The city of Melbourne has a large Vietnamese community, and likes to celebrate the vibrancy of this culture through its wonderful cuisine.