Pho Gia Truyen at 49 Bat Dan
My wife’s uncle (our restaurant manager and taste guru) visited this place when he was in Hanoi ( He tasted six different places in one morning) and said this is the best he tasted that day. We had to try it and after two attempts to go there; it was closed, we finally sat down and had a bowl.
Now this place is busy and a bit different than most of the other restaurants around; you stand in a line (or what passes for a line in a non-queuing country) to get your order and carry it yourself to an available table. There are no available tables, rather spots at tables you have to hunt for and squeeze into with other customers. So if you’re by yourself you have to carry a steaming and overflowing bowl of Pho around looking for a spot to open up. It must be worth it as the place was packed.
The bowl came with a plate of (chinese) donuts for dipping and a nice mound of beef that was cut from the handy hanging piece next to the cook. This place has one person getting the soup, one getting the meat and one doing the final assembly; it is crazy busy.
|I’ll have the mound of meat on the right|
|Must go through gallons every hour|
The taste was fabulous and the best Hanoi style Pho I have had yet; beefy goodness in a bowl. The other prominent taste was the added Vietnamese green onions. Again I qualify this as Hanoi style Pho as it was not what would be called Pho in the south or at home. This is the original taste of what our Pho was when it started its evolution into the Pho we recognise in Vancouver.
My belief is that food evolves along with the people and their environment. Traditional dishes and a cuisine like the people are a product of their environment. Vietnam is rapidly evolving as is the cuisine that is part of that changing society. Ideas, like people are moving and changing at an amazing pace as such the food is being influenced by that change. Food and the ways to prepare it is moving around the country and changing the menus in even the smallest village.
The Pho we serve at Mui Ngo Gai is a result of people moving around Vietnam and during the Diasporas have occurred 1) during the separation of North and South in the early 1950s 2) after the end of the Vietnam War with its the mass movement of people overseas. You can taste the influence of this change of environments on the taste of the soup and on what we expect it to taste like. The north serves up a bowl of Pho that is beefy but has very little spicing (not spice as in hot rather in strength of added spices) of the broth. It is a good satisfying bowl of soup with the right noodles and beef but lacks the aroma we expect. In the south the soup takes on a bit of a more spicy tone but not as much as in Vancouver. The broth in Vancouver is much more aroma and better quality of beef.
In each place we have had Pho over the years (North, South and at home) we have found each taste authentic to the place and each bowl satisfying in its own way. When you look at the journey this soup has taken with the people who have made it, I am very appreciative at evolution of various tastes of this soup and of the strength of the people who took it with them to their new homes. There is no one right taste of Pho, there is just the taste you know to be Pho.
Another blog about this restaurant smittenbyfood.blogspot.com
And another www.travelandleisure.com
Youtube video http://www.youtube.com