First on our list of eateries on Day 1 was Pho Gia Thuyen for some Pho Bo or beef pho. This place kept coming up in multiple sources for the best pho in town. It was walking distance from our hotel, so we walked on over around 10 am and it was packed.
The rest of the restaurant is devoted to small tables and kiddie chairs. It's pretty much self service here, so you pay up front and carry your bowl to an open kiddie chair at a crowded table. I grabbed a seat for us while Jung ordered at the counter.
On each table are the following condiments: slices of chili pepper (beware, they are spicy), some vinegar and some hot sauce.
Unlike in the U.S., this pho was not served with a plate of bean sprouts, lime and basil. Instead, it was garnished for you already with a heaping mound of spring onions, to which we added some sliced chilies.
The bowl looks small but it was full of rice noodles and tons of beef. Jung said that the thought there was actually more beef than noodles in this dish. It was incredible! I've never tasted pho broth like this. I've tried making pho broth before and it ends up being quite aromatic with the star anise, cloves, cinnamon and other herbs. But here, the broth was undeniably beefy and unbelievably good.
I wish I could have bottled up the broth and let you all have a taste. Jung and I really wanted to come back and eat again, but we had 11 other places to try. Sigh ... is it crazy to want to go to Hanoi again to eat this pho again? Man, I am totally lusting after this pho right now.
Pho Gia Thuyen
49 Bat Dan
The hours are from 6 am to 11:30 am and then starts up again at 6 pm.