Our Guide to Slurping Your Pho

Our Guide to Slurping Your Pho

When you’re about to dig into a piping hot bowl of Pho, have you ever worried about doing it right? Between the noodles, broth, protein, and the various condiments and trimmings that can come along with a bowl of Pho, there are a variety of components that can easily seem overwhelming.
When it comes down to it, there’s not just one correct way to eat Pho. But there is some info you can keep in mind to get the most out of your next bowl, and eat Pho the way it is meant to be eaten. So slurp it up and enjoy! Here are our best tips for eating Pho like a pro.
  1. Understanding the ingredients

First and foremost, once your Pho is sitting in front of you, where do you start? Pho is usually served with a plate full of fresh and delicious-looking herbs and trimmings on the side. You may be tempted to add all of that vibrant goodness to your bowl immediately, but not so fast.
Before adding any trimmings to your Pho, you should taste the broth on its own first. You’ll want to sip a spoonful of the broth to experience it in its purest form and ensure it is to your liking before diving in to all the extras.
Once you’ve tried the broth, you can dig into the many herbs, sauces, condiments, and other trimmings. How can you know which ones you should add to your bowl and which ones to skip? Here is a quick rundown:
  • Mung bean sprouts: These are a common ingredient of East and Southeast Asian cuisine.  They can be added to provide some extra texture or crunch to your bowl of Pho.
  • Lime: Juice from a fresh lime wedge can be squeezed into the broth to taste.
  • Thai basil: This is another extremely common ingredient in Vietnamese cuisine. Adding Thai basil into your Pho will provide it with extra fragrance and and flavor.
  • Hoisin or Sriracha: Either of these condiments can be added to Pho to enhance the spice or sweetness, depending which sauce you choose.  They also both serve as great dipping sauces for the protein in your Pho. 
  1. Use the Right Utensils

Understanding the various ingredients and how they can enhance your Pho is a huge part of enjoying it. However, you’ll also want to make sure you’re using the right utensils in the right way. Traditionally, one should consume Pho using chopsticks or a fork in their dominant hand, and a spoon in their non-dominant hand. The chopsticks or fork are for picking up the noodles, protein, and other solid ingredients, while the spoon is used to drink the broth.

One final note on utensils: You may want to have an extra bowl or small plate on hand to lay your chopsticks in between bites.  It can be considered rude to leave your chopsticks sitting in the bowl when you are not actively eating. 

  1. Pace Yourself

Eating Pho is not an experience that should be rushed through. You want to sip, slurp, and savor your Pho for as long as possible. The goal is not to finish quickly, but to enjoy your meal as much as possible along the way. For that reason, always be sure to pace yourself when enjoying a bowl of Pho. Rushing won’t do you any favors.
  1. Keep Quiet

Traditionally, one is not supposed to talk while eating Pho. Talking or otherwise multitasking can distract from the task at hand. When eating Pho, you should be fully focused on the flavors, ingredients, and overall experience it provides. For many people, meals are a social occasion: An opportunity to engage with family after a day apart at work, or a chance to meet up and reconnect with friends. But when it comes to eating Pho, according to tradition you should prioritize eating first, and socializing second.
So there you have it: Our tips for enjoying your Pho like an expert. While the guidelines above can guide you and help you to consume Pho as it is traditionally meant to be consumed, they are by no means hard and fast rules you should stress out over. What matters most is that you’re comfortable and able to enjoy your next bowl of Pho as much as possible!
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