Pho Chao: A Unique Mix Of Vietnamese And Canadian Cuisine

Diners can easily come upon a Pho eatery with a brilliant yellow space in the center of bustling Nguyen Cong Tru Street, brightening up a corner of Saigon. Nobody would have guessed that traditional Pho would become a hybrid between Vietnamese and Canadian cuisines.

On 6 June 2023, audiences paid close attention to Pho Chao in a series of recommended Pho restaurants and diners on the Vietnam Michelin Bib Gourmand 2023 list. The name conveys a sense of friendliness and has many intriguing stories behind it. It it be the story of Pho Chao’s past, the unique blend of “Pho Tine,” or the proprietor with a kind grin who has attracted a large number of Western tourists.

Pho Chao’s forefather was born in the past in Nam Dinh, a land in northern Vietnam. In 1986, “Dung Mama” (the lovely name given to Mrs. Bui Thi Dung, owner of Pho Chao by international guests) prepared the first bowls of Pho with the taste of sweet broth passed down from her grandmother’s life. Mrs. Dung and her family have officially opened the Pho Chao business on Nguyen Cong Tru Street in the Binh Thanh neighborhood by 2021. In less than three years, the restaurant has accomplished great things and made its stamp on Saigon cuisine.

Some visitors visit Pho Chao because of the distinctive flavor, but the majority do so because they adore the proprietor, Dung Mama. Few people realize, despite her friendly demeanor, that she has a troubled history. She battled breast cancer for nearly five years before starting Pho Chao. According to her account, when she initially found this dreadful sickness, she was quite depressed since she saw her life being jeopardized and the disease’s anguish constantly tormenting her. She was more motivated to fight the sickness because of her amazing vitality and the encouragement of family members.

Fortunately, numerous fresh options presented themselves to her at the moment. Mrs. Dung, a brilliant woman who adores cooking, has not shied away from preparing delicious delicacies for the patients since meeting them at the hospital, such as chicken porridge and mushroom porridge. She also actively conducts baking seminars for cancer patients to help them obtain more life motivation. She also generously provided money to patients in difficult circumstances. She was able to overcome the condition in part by maintaining a healthy and happy attitude.

Pho Chao was born in 2021 with a strong interest for cuisine and people. Initially, most of the clients who came to the shop were foreign friends of Mrs. Dung’s daughter. Later, as a result of the good news from abroad, the number of international tourists to Pho Chao expanded dramatically, accounting for more than half of the total number of visitors. As a result, the restaurant serves dishes that merge the flavors of Vietnam and Western European countries.

“Pho Tine” is the most unique dish on Pho Chao’s menu. Anyone who has heard of this name is intrigued by it. Actually, Pho Tine is a hybrid of Vietnamese Pho and Canadian Poutine. Poutine is the national dish of Canada, consisting of french fries, cheese balls, and meat sauce sprinkled on top. Pho Tine is inspired by this, it features crispy French potatoes below, a thick noodle soup, and tender beef with a rich leopard cheese covering. It is seen to be quite weird for the locals; nonetheless, many people have praised Pho Chao as a delectable and must-try meal when visiting Saigon.

Apart from Pho Tine, Mama Dung’s ancestral traditional Pho recipes have garnered a lot of great praise. Pho Chao’s broth is light and not as sweet as Pho in the south of Vietnam, influenced by the flavor of the north. Furthermore, the shop sells a range of different Vietnamese dishes with the same flavor as professional restaurants, such as beef ragu, chicken bath with fish sauce, mixed fried vegetables, fried vermicelli, pickled coconut tea, and so on.

The price of a bowl of Pho here is between 65,000 and 90,000 VND. When buyers consider the common ground in Saigon as well as the quality and brand of Pho Chao, this is an acceptable pricing. A portion of Pho at Pho Chao is very large because it is made to order for international customers, however it can be decreased to around two bowls like traditional Vietnamese Pho. As a result, whether it is pricey or not is subjective to each individual. But perhaps regulars at Pho Chao come not only for the delicious food, but also for Mama Dung’s humanity, which shines through in every bowl of Pho.

Address: 52 Nguyen Cong Tru, Ward 19, Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

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