Generations of Hanoi people have enjoyed pho cuon (fresh rice noodle rolls). What makes it such a trustworthy culinary address?
Located in Ngu Xa area Ba Dinh district, Chinh Thang restaurant has been famous for pho cuon. It is known as the first place in the city to offer the food, also a favorite one of Hanoi people.
Pho cuon is similar to pho in terms of ingredients but it is served without soup, suitable for summer. Photo: Pasgo.vn
A summer dish
Ngu Xa used to be a craft village in the old time, popular for copper casting since the 15th century. But now the area is known for pho cuon. There are tens of restaurants offering the dish but Chinh Thang restaurant stands out for its history and original flavor.
Going back in time to a day in the summer of 2000, seeing her customers sweating over a hot pho bowl (noodle soup with beef or chicken), Vu Thi Chinh, the owner of Chinh Thang, flashed an idea for a new dish of the food.
Then she tried to roll pho sheets with beef and herbs served with fish sauce, the typical sauce of Vietnam. “Surprisingly, my customers like it a lot,” she recalled, “since then, it has always been on my menu. Pho cuon is similar to pho in terms of ingredients. But it differs in the way that instead of a bowl of hot soup, pho cuon is served without soup, suitable for summer.”
The Deep-fried pho cuon. Photo: Team Hau Holic
Thanks to the delicious flavor of the dish that quickly won the palate of diners and became their first choice when they came to her restaurant. The new dish helped her earn a lot of money to raise her three sons and now one of them has succeeded her restaurant.
At the age of nearly 70 years old, she still does the work very fast. She proudly said that she can roll ten pho cuon in just one minute.
Secret of the sauce
If the broth is the key of pho, the dipping sauce is the secret of a tasty pho cuon, according to Ms. Chinh.
Each pho cuon restaurant in Ngu Xa has a recipe of the sauce and so does Chinh Thang restaurant. “The sauce gives a lot of taste as well as the balance for the food. During years of offering it, I adjusted my recipe several times until obtaining a sauce that has its own flavor and suits the taste of most diners,” Chinh shared her experience.
The Deep-fried pho cuon at Chinh Thang eatery. Photo: Pho cuon Chinh Thang
In addition, the quality of the ingredients like the rice noodle, beef and herbs, is also important. They are bought from loyal traders that have provided to the restaurant for a long time.
For good pho cuon, the rice noodle sheet is required to be not only thin and soft for the best taste but also uneasy to be broken while rolling.
The stuffing includes beef, which is cut into small slices and stirred with oil before rolling with fresh herbs, especially coriander.
For over two decades, the restaurant has welcomed hundreds of visitors every day, both the locals and foreigners.
Chinh offered Pho since 1981. However, since 2000, his eatery menu was added pho cuon. Photo: NinhEating
One of them, a regular customer of the restaurant, Huy Hoang said he had eaten at the restaurant for seven-eight years. “When I lived in Hanoi, I ate here every week. Later, I moved to the northern province of Quang Ninh and I missed it a lot. So, whenever I have an opportunity to come back Hanoi like today, I always come here to enjoy the food,” he said.
Meanwhile, another customer, Minh Ha learned about the restaurant from her friends. She said that she thought it was not much different from other places that she had been to for the dish. Therefore, she was impressed a lot by the flavor here. “It is very tasty, especially the dipping sauce. I eat a lot more than ever before,” she said.
In addition to pho cuon, other dishes added later are also favored by many people such as deep-fried pho, crispy fried pho with egg, or sour pho, with only VND50,000 to 80,000 ($2.2-3.5) a dish.