What Does Pho Taste Like? Learn More About This Vietnamese Soup!


Pho is Vietnam’s national dish! This noodle and meat soup has built up a worldwide following and is enjoyed by millions of Americans. In this article, we will explore why this seemingly simple noodle soup has become so popular and break down its unique taste!

How Would You Describe Pho?

Pho is a noodle and meat soup from Vietnam. It contains beef and a lovely spicy, salty, and slightly sweet broth. It has a range of herbs and spices which infuse with the broth and noodles, producing a strong and satisfying umami flavor.

The word pho actually means “noodle” in Vietnamese. The original pho is made with thin rice noodles, but nowadays, many variations are made with other types of noodles, such as flat egg noodles and wheat vermicelli.

The broth is the most important part of pho, it is where all the flavor comes from. A good broth will consist of beef, chicken, or both depending on the dish you are making. This mixture is usually flavored with a variety of spices, including star anise, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and coriander seeds. Some people like to add aniseed or fennel seeds as well.

The broth should be clear enough to see through and have a strong flavor that doesn’t overpower the dish but is just enough to enhance it. You can also try adding some lemongrass or fresh lime juice for a citrusy taste.

Pho is much more than a standard noodle soup. If you have tried Vietnamese food you would know that they can turn simple dishes and give them a wide range of flavor. Pho’s main ingredients are rice noodles and beef, but its complex and rich flavor comes from lime, chili, fish sauce, hoisin sauce, ginger, basil, coriander, and more. All of these flavorful ingredients mix together perfectly to produce an unforgettable taste and tons of health benefits!

What meat is in pho? Pho has beef in it. Fattier and cheaper cuts of beef such as flank, brisket, or chuck roast are used in pho. These cuts add an intense meaty flavor. Pho broth is made from slow cooking, a mixture of marrow and meaty beef bones. You can use knuckles, joints, marrow, or foot bones. 

Pho contains slices of beef. The most common cuts of beef used in Pho are flank, brisket, or chuck roast. These cuts of meat are preferred because they are cheap, have a strong meaty flavor, and are fatty, which makes them tender. There is nothing worse than chewy beef in your pho! The rich flavor of the pho broth is thanks to the marrow and meaty beef bones, which are slow-cooked.

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Does pho come with raw meat? Pho comes with raw sliced beef on the top. The beef then cooks into the boiling hot broth, and you are left with super yummy and tender beef pho. This is perfectly hygienic, and the beef slices will melt in your mouth!

If you order pho with beef slices, don’t be shocked if raw meat turns up on top of your soup. The traditional way to serve pho is to place raw slices of beef on top of the soup, and then when you separate the noodles, the beef falls into the boiling broth and starts to cook. The beef will quickly cook and turn into lovely tender beef that will melt in your mouth!

What are the condiments for pho? Essential condiments for pho include sriracha sauce, hoisin sauce, Thai basil, fresh mint, fish sauce, bean sprouts, coriander, cardamon, fried egg, cilantro, and even cinnamon.

Pho has such a spectacular flavor thanks to the amazing array of condiments and toppings. You can add basically anything you like to your pho. Some of the most popular sauces are hoisin, chili, fish, and sriracha. People also love to throw some veggies in their pho, including Thai basil, mint leaves, cilantro, and bean sprouts. You can also add a range of spices such as cinnamon, cardamom and anise.

What Does Pho Taste Like?

Pho tastes salty and spicy with a citrus tang and spicy kick. It is also mildly sweet with a strong umami beef stock flavor. The chili sauce gives the dish some heat, and broth combined with the beef produces a lovely and satisfying umami taste. Pho has a complex and rich range of flavors.

Pho will give your taste buds a serious workout. The broth and beef slices are packed full of umami, and the added fish sauce gives the legendary Vietnamese dish some tanginess. The added chili sauce introduces some spice, and the lime introduces some sour and citrusy notes. Pho is a super tasty dish that has every flavor you can imagine. It is savory but at the same time has some sweet and sour notes, which create a very balanced and intensely yummy meal!

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Is pho sweet or salty? Pho is both salty and sweet. Pho is seasoned with both salt and sugar and beef bones, fish sauce, chili sauce, and lime. The dish is more savory and salty than sweet but still has a distinct sweetness that balances the flavor profile. 

Pho is definitely sweet because it contains added sugar. However, overall it is a savory and salty dish because it contains beef, added salt, and fish sauce. Traditional pho should have a subtle but clear sweetness which prevents the noodle soup from becoming too salty. Southern-style Pho is sweeter than Northern style because they are more liberal with sugar.

Is pho meant to be sweet? Pho is meant to have a clear and subtle sweetness. This is because pho is seasoned with sugar. Even though sugar is added, pho is still mostly savory and salty because its base ingredients include beef, beef broth, fish sauce, salt, hoisin sauce, onion, and pepper.

Pho should be slightly sweet. If you have ever eaten pho in Saigon, you may be shocked at how sweet it is. In Saigon, they add a lot of sugar which gives the pho a lovely sweetness. In the north, they are less liberal with sugar, and pho has a stronger salty taste.

Is Pho Similar to Ramen?

Pho and ramen are noodle soups that contain rich broth and meat. Ramen has a more intense broth and contains wheat noodles, while pho has a more watery broth and contains rice noodles. Pho has a spicy, tangy, and spicy flavor, while ramen has a rich, salty, and umami taste.

Even though ramen and pho are noodle soups, they have some key differences. Pho is a Vietnamese dish while ramen is Japanese. Pho is topped with beef, herbs, and fresh veggies, while ramen is topped with pork, egg, and seaweed. Pho contains rice noodles, while ramen contains wheat noodles. Pho is sweet, spicy, sour, and tangy, while ramen is very salty, rich, and has a strong umami flavor.

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How Do You Eat Pho?

Take your chopsticks and mix the noodles, herbs and veggies around the broth. Then with your chopsticks, pick up a healthy amount of noodles with some meat and veggies and dig in! Pho should be served hot, and you can add as many toppings as you like! We like adding sriracha and hoisin sauce.

There is no secret technique to eating pho. All you need to do is grab your chopsticks and break apart the noodles and mix the herbs and veggies. Then once your pho is all nicely mixed, grab some noodles, meat, and veggies and take a bite. Pho should always be served boiling hot, and if you like, you can even drink the broth from the bowl!

Is it rude to drink pho from a bowl? It is not rude to drink pho from the bowl. In Vietnam, you will see many locals slurping up the tasty pho broth by drinking straight from the bowl. It is a personal choice whether you drink all of your broth or leave it!

Some people love drinking pho broth while others don’t and let the waiter take it away. It is not considered rude or abnormal to drink the remaining pho broth. However, Vietnamese culture does not consider it a sign of politeness as they do in Japan. Drinking broth from the bowl is neither rude or polite.

Is pho served hot or cold? Pho should be served boiling hot. Pho is not nearly as tasty when cold because even though it is sweet it is mostly a savory and salty dish. Savory dishes nearly always taste much better when hot.

Pho should not only be served hot, but it should be boiling! The last thing you want to do is eat a cold bowl of pho. The beef stock and beef slices won’t taste the same when cold.

What is the red sauce that comes with pho? Pho is served with a red chili sauce or red chili sauce. It is also served with hoisin sauce which is dark brown with a purple tint, and contains fish sauce which is amber.

Pho is nearly always served with two red sauces, they are sriracha or Asian chili sauce. Sriracha is made from chiles, sugar, salt, garlic, and distilled vinegar. Asian chili sauce is made from chilies, fried shallots, garlic, shrimp paste, sugar, and fish sauce.

10 Useful Tips On Making Pho Soup

In Vietnam, pho is commonly eaten for breakfast or brunch and is often eaten with a side of fresh herbs such as mint, basil, and coriander. Pho is also a great meal to share when having friends over for dinner. This dish can be made in bulk and stored so that it can be reheated throughout the week. You can add different spices or condiments depending on your taste or what your family likes best.

We would like to add some suggestions on how to make pho more flavorful and interesting:

1. The noodles should be made from wheat flour because they are thicker than rice noodles and will hold up better during cooking

2. The broth should be made with beef bones and meat, but it is not necessary to add the meat. The bones provide a lot of flavors, and the sweetness from the broth will make up for any lack of meat.

3. You can also add some fresh herbs such as coriander, mint, or basil to your pho

4. If you want a little spice in your pho, you can add some chili sauce or Sriracha sauce to your bowl. You can also add 1-2 tablespoons of chili paste or chili oil to the broth before adding it to the noodles. This will give it a nice kick!

5. If you prefer a thicker soup, you can use wide noodle-like rice noodles in place of the thin wheat noodles

6. To make the broth more flavorful, use whole star anise

7. For extra flavor and depth of flavor in your pho, you can add cinnamon sticks

8. You could also add some dried shrimp or crab meat

9. You can add some quail eggs or chicken eggs to your pho. This is a good way to add protein in your diet as well as an extra flavor

10. You can also add 2-3 slices of ginger root to the soup and let it simmer for 15 minutes, then strain it into the bowl before serving

Final Thoughts

Pho is Vietnam’s national dish and, in the last 20 years, has become incredibly popular throughout the West. It seems like every influencer is taking snaps of their latest bowl of pho. Even though pho is a simple beef noodle soup it has a rich and complex flavor due to all of the added ingredients. Pho contains beef broth, lime, cilantro, salt, sugar, chili, a range of herbs and spices including cardamom and cinnamon, and also numerous sauces such as chili, hoisin, and fish sauce. Pho tastes spicy, salty, sweet, and tangy. The flavors are in perfect balance, making pho a must-try dish!

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