Best Pho In Ho Chi Minh City – A Local’s Guide

Pho noodle soup is one of the most famous dishes of Vietnamese cuisine. It is a staple breakfast in Vietnam but is now enjoyed all day. The essence of pho lies in its broth, rice noodles, and meat toppings (beef or chicken). The broth is the soul of the dish, usually simmered for hours with bones, charred onions, and ginger. This slow cooking process extracts deep flavors and aromas, creating a rich, clear, and fragrant broth. In this article, you will find some of the best places to enjoy pho in Ho Chi Minh City. I will also highlight their best offerings to order.

Pho in Saigon

Pho is enjoyed in many cities across Vietnam, with two major styles, Northern pho (represented by Hanoi pho) and Southern pho (represented by Saigon pho). Both versions have their unique flavors and characteristics, shaped by geographical, cultural, and historical influences. Northern pho is celebrated for its pure, subtle and balanced flavors. In contrast, Southern pho is characterized by its sweetness and the abundance of garnishes and condiments.

We are not going to say which one is more delicious since both versions have their loyalists. Ultimately, it boils down to personal preference and one’s background – specifically, the version they grew up with. As people from all over the country come to Saigon to work and live, it is possible to find different styles of pho in the city nowadays. Here are the main characteristics of each style.

Northern Pho

  • Broth: The broth is noted for its clarity and depth of flavor, emphasizing the natural taste of its ingredients. It is more aromatic and complex in comparison to its Southern counterpart. The spices are balanced carefully to not overpower the broth’s clean taste.
  • Noodles: The rice noodles tend to be wider than those used in the South.
  • Accompaniments: Pho in Hanoi is typically served with a simple set of garnishes, often only green onions, cilantro, sliced onions, and some lime wedges on the side. People in the North also love to eat pho with fried dough sticks (quẩy) and poached eggs (trứng chần).
  • Condiments: The use of condiments is more restrained in the North, with diners often preferring to enjoy the soup without the addition of extra sauces or spices.
  • Variations: Besides the classic pho noodle soup version, pho is also served in different ways in Hanoi, such as beef stew pho (phở sốt vang), pho rolls (phở cuốn), puffy fried pho (phở chiên phồng), and fried pho with eggs (phở chiên trứng).
a bowl of beef pho noodle soup with well-done beef and rare beef at Pho Thanh Beo noodle shop in Hanoi.
A bowl of beef pho noodle soup at Pho Thanh Beo in Hanoi

Southern Pho

  • Broth: Southern pho features a sweeter and darker broth, with a noticeable sweetness from added sugar not present in the Northern version.
  • Noodles: The noodles are generally thinner than those in Northern pho. They absorb the broth well, contributing to a different mouthfeel and eating experience.
  • Meat: Beef meatball is an option for topping in Southern pho while Northern pho doesn’t use it.
  • Accompaniments: A generous plate of fresh herbs and other garnishes is served alongside, including basil, mint, cilantro, bean sprouts, lime, and sliced chili. Diners in the South enjoy customizing their soup with these additions.
  • Condiments: There is a greater emphasis on condiments in the South, with hoisin sauce, and chili sauce available to tailor it to individual tastes.

As we are from Hanoi and Hai Phong, we prefer the broth to be balanced and not overly sweet. And while we’ve come to appreciate Southern pho as we’re now living in Saigon, we still rarely add the extra beansprouts, herbs, or hoisin sauce. Again, it’s not a matter of what is better but rather one of individual taste and tradition.

Best Pho Places in Saigon

Having lived in Saigon for quite a few years now, we eat pho several times a week and have got to try a number of pho houses around the city, including the long-standing establishments and newer ones. Below is the current list of our top favorite pho restaurants in HCMC.

Phở Hàng Đậu

  • Location: 11 Tran Van Sac, Thao Dien, District 2 (Google Maps)

Pho Hang Dau is a newer beef pho shop that has become our favorite. It is located in Thao Dien, a residential area in District 2 (now part of Thu Duc City). One thing to note is all seatings are outdoor.

The owner is a Hanoian, who is passionate about her food and restaurant. The pho at this restaurant is in Northern style, and we order from it once a week. I find the best topping to order here is the rare beef. The well-cooked beef is decent, but not as good as in Hanoi. I have to say we have yet to find a pho shop in HCMC offering well-cooked beef that is as thin, tender, and tasty as what is served in Hanoi.

a bowl of beef pho noodle soup at Pho Hang Dau, one of the best pho in Saigon.

Pho Hang Dau has also expanded its menu to include bun cha and fried spring rolls. The bun cha is also among the best and most authentic in the city. The fried spring rolls (the regular ones, not the square ones) are also very solid and traditional, pretty similar to the taste you will find in Vietnamese home cooking.

Phở Phú Gia

  • Location: 146e Ly Chinh Thang, District 3 (Google Maps)

Pho Phu Gia is well-known for its pho noodle soups with seared beef (phở tái lăn), which originated from the North. They also have other types of beef toppings, but the seared beef is their signature. The broth also leans more toward Northern style. We’ve ordered their pho from time to time in the last 5 years, and the taste has been consistent.

Phở Hà

  • Location: 19 Hai Trieu, Ben Nghe, District 1 (Google Maps)

Pho Ha is a long-standing name located opposite Bitexco Tower in District 1, which is among the best areas to stay for visitors. You will see 3-4 adjacent houses displaying the sign “Pho Ha 19 Hai Trieu,” all of which are part of this establishment. The place is often crowded in the evening and late night.

a bowl of chicken pho noodle soup at Pho Ha, one of the best pho restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City.

Pho Ha is specialized in Northern chicken pho noodle soups, and the taste is authentic. Despite that, they will still serve a basket of fresh herbs and beansprouts with their pho. Besides chicken pho, they also serve a variety of other Vietnamese dishes. We also like their bun thang (rice vermicelli noodles with chicken and eggs), fried square green sticky rice cake, and stir-fried glass noodles with chicken gizzards (oily but tasty though).

Phở Gà Thăng Long

  • Location: 92 Nguyen Huu Canh Street, Saigon Pearl, Binh Thanh District (Google Maps)

Pho Ga Thang Long is a new noodle shops specialized in Northern chicken soups, including chicken pho, bun ga (rice vermicelli chicken noodle soup) and mien ga (chicken glass noodle soup). We have eaten and ordered from them a few times since they opened.

Phở Gà Phố Cổ

  • Location: 12 No. 10 Street, An Phu, District 2 (Google Maps)

This pho shop is also specialized in chicken pho, and a number of other chicken dishes. Besides chicken pho, their bun thang is also decent. You will also find several other Vietnamese chicken noodle soups that are just as good as pho ga, such as bun ga (rice vermicelli chicken noodle soup) and mien ga (chicken glass noodle soup).

Phở Sol

  • Location: several locations in District 1, 2, 4 , and 7

The signature of Pho Sol is the pho noodle soups with seared beef, and you can choose between local beef or imported beef. Personally, it’s not my favorite because I find the broth not very balanced, a bit too salty and heavy-handed with the seasonings. What I recommend here are the beef stew pho noodle soups (phở sốt vang) and beef pho rolls (phở cuốn). Pho Sol is my go-to place for these two specialty pho dishes of Hanoi.

Other Recommendations

Phở Dậu in District 3 (Google Maps): this long-standing beef pho stall is well-known for their light and clear broth with almost no fat. It is plain and simple (the word I would use to describe it in Vietnamese is “mộc mạc”). We order their pho when we need something light, especially when we are not feeling well.

Phố Hàng Phở in District 2 (Google Maps): this is a newer pho shop specialized in Northern beef pho. The broth is quite balanced though it is slightly sweeter than traditional Northern pho and not as fragrant as the one at Pho Hang Dau. We will need to try this place a few more times to assess how consistent their noodle soup is.

Anan Saigon in District 1 (Google Maps): for an elevated version of pho noodle soup, Anan will be our top recommendation. They incorporate premium ingredients, such as wagyu beef and truffles, into a humble dish and enhance the flavors beautifully. Be prepared to pay a much higher price, though.

a bowl of truffle pho noodle soup at Anan Saigon restaurant in Ho Chi Minh city.
Truffle pho at Anan Saigon


Overall, there is no shortage of decent and solid pho in HCMC. Despite that, I personally feel that pho is not a must-try dish in Saigon. It is a must-try in Hanoi, but in Saigon, for noodle soups, the must-try are hủ tiếu, bánh canh cua, and mì vịt tiềm. Other noteworthy ones include bún mắm, bún bò Huế, and mì sủi cảo.

If you are set to try pho in HCMC, definitely consider the places above, especially if you prefer a broth that isn’t overly sweet with added sugar. None of these establishments in our post are listed in the Michelin Guide. When in Vietnam (same as with Japan), don’t take the Michelin Guide too seriously. We’ve visited several places recommended by the guide; for instance, Pho Hoa Pasteur turned out to be very sweet and overly touristy these days. Pho Viet Nam was also too sweet for our liking. After all, the most accurate way to find out if the pho at a particular place suits your taste is to try it yourself.

a bowl of beef pho noodle soup at Pho Hoa Pasteur in Ho Chi Minh City.
Beef pho at Pho Hoa Pasteur

Saigon food scene has much more to offer than just noodle soups. You can take a look at my list of top Vietnamese restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City, or consider taking a guided food tour in the city.

a Pinterest collage of photos of Vietnamese beef pho and chicken pho noodle soup in Saigon.
a Pinterest pin with photo of a bowl of beef pho in Ho Chi Minh City.

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