Best Phở in Saigon

The Best Phở in Saigon

Last updated October 2019 | Words and photos by Vietnam Coracle

Vietnam’s best-known dish, phở is a beef noodle soup that’s defined by the complexity of its broth. There’s a constant squabble between north and south over which has the best phở in the country – an argument that the north usually wins, largely because this is where the dish originated, sometime is the early 20th century (although this is up for debate). For my part, despite having lived in the south of the country for over a decade, I agree that northern phở trumps southern. The main reason for this is that the northern broth has more depth and magic to it than the sweet, watery versions you find in the south. In particular, finding an outstanding bowl of phở in Saigon has always been a difficult task. However, although I cannot claim to have tried every bowl in the city, I have now found one of which I can say, with confidence, is my favourite phở in Saigon.


Phở Phượng, the best phở in Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Phở Phượng occupies a quiet corner at 25 Hoàng Sa Street, in Saigon’s District 1, opposite the newly developed, tree-lined banks of the Thị Nghè Channel. Phở Phượng moved to this location several years ago from its previous site at the nearby Điện Biên Phủ traffic circle, where it had been operating for 30 years. With over a generation of experience there’s a calm confidence about Phở Phượng. From the outside there’s nothing to distinguish it from similar eateries all over Saigon, but when the rich, meaty aroma first hits you from the bubbling cauldron of broth, you just know you’re in for something special.

Images: Phở Phượng, Saigon

For me, this phở begins and ends with cinnamon and star anise: it’s the fragrance that dominates the broth from the first moment you smell it, and it’s the taste that lingers in your mouth long after the meal is over. But, while cinnamon and star anise are the high notes of this bowl of phở, it’s complemented by a background of deeper tones, such as cloves, ginger, shallots and, of course, beef. Once you add sawtooth coriander, basil leaves, rice paddy herb, and a squeeze of lime the broth takes on an almost medicinal quality – deep and soothing like an exotic Vicks Vaporub that spreads, warms and cleanses your body.

Ms Phượng, a sturdy, stern woman from the north, is the proprietor, and she seems justifiably proud of her product. Like all the best places to eat in Vietnam, Phở Phượng is a family-run business, and this is their one and only outlet: there are no other branches. A bowl of phở here is 45,000-60,000vnd (over $2, which is fairly pricey by Vietnamese standards). It’s open all day.

MAP: Phở Phượng | 25 Hoang Sa Street, Da Kao ward, District 1, Saigon


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Disclosure: I never receive payment for anything I write: my content is always free & independent. I’ve written this guide because I want to: I like this noodle shop & I want my readers to know about it. For more details, see my Disclosure & Disclaimer statements here

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30 Comments
  1. Martin says:
    December 22, 2019 at 5:46 AM

    Hmmmm, it’s 60k for the medium bowl and 80k for the big bowl, today Dec. 22nd.
    They definitely overcharge foreigners, I saw a lady right next to me paying less.
    The pho is good, though. But not sure worth the 60k price tag.

    1. Tom says:
      December 22, 2019 at 1:06 PM

      Hi Martin,

      Thanks for sharing your experience. I have not been overcharged at Phở Phượng and nor has anyone else I know, so that is unfortunate.

      As for the value for money, I agree that 60k is more than one might normally pay for a bowl of phở, but these days it’s also a pretty standard price for a well-established phở joint in Saigon’s District 1.

      If you’re looking for a cheaper (but still very good) bowl of phở in Saigon, you might try checking out this place.

      Tom

  2. Seamus Gough says:
    November 3, 2019 at 3:55 AM

    A truly epic bowl of Pho, great selection of different types of beef.

    Cinnamon and star anaise shine through.

    Also a side of a poached egg just adds to this great meal.

    Highly recommended

    1. Tom says:
      November 3, 2019 at 4:17 AM

      Glad you enjoyed it, Seamus. I’ll have to try the egg on the side next time – sounds good.

      Tom

  3. Lisa says:
    March 13, 2016 at 10:13 AM

    Tom! We usually have pho ga, but since our friends were visiting from the States, we just had to have pho bo. This place was AWESOME. Hands down, best Pho in town. Thanks for sharing this info.

    Lisa

    1. Tom says:
      March 13, 2016 at 3:41 PM

      Hi Lisa,

      Great to hear you liked this pho too. I also have two friends visiting from the UK right now, so I think we will be heading over to Pho Phuong tomorrow too 🙂

      Tom

  4. danny says:
    December 5, 2015 at 7:55 AM

    Food was good but I’m pretty sure we got charged a foreigner price of 48000 dong a bowl vs what other people paid.

    1. Tom says:
      December 5, 2015 at 1:33 PM

      Hi Danny,

      Glad you liked the food. You weren’t overcharged: that’s the ‘real’ price 🙂 If you’re looking for another great bowl of phở for a cheaper price and a ‘real’ local neighbourhood, try Phở Gia Hân.

      I hope you enjoy it,

      Tom

  5. Kimberly says:
    October 14, 2015 at 5:37 AM

    We went here for lunch and it was amazing. Really great flavors. Thanks so much for putting this on our radar!

    1. Tom says:
      October 14, 2015 at 6:10 AM

      Hi Kimberly,
      Great. I’m glad you enjoyed it 🙂
      Tom

  6. Martin says:
    December 26, 2014 at 6:17 PM

    I need to try Phở Phượng, but for me the Nr.1 is a small family run eatery with just two tables on a Saigon river shore on 598/19 Trần Xuân Soạn street, in District 7 🙂

    1. Tom says:
      December 29, 2014 at 1:05 AM

      Sounds good. I’ll try that sometime. Thanks for the suggestion.

  7. Jonnie Emsley says:
    September 3, 2014 at 4:54 PM

    Hi!

    I discovered this place a few months ago as I live nearby, and drew the same conclusion as you- hands down the best I’ve tasted. It’s very funny seeing another fellow foodie has experienced this too! I enjoyed reading this!

    1. Tom says:
      September 3, 2014 at 10:56 PM

      Hi,
      Glad you enjoyed it too! Yes, it’s still my number 1 in Saigon. I recently wrote about Phở Gia Hân (which you can read about here) which I also like but it’s a little too sweet for me 🙂
      Tom

  8. An says:
    June 19, 2014 at 4:25 PM

    Hi Tom,
    I think Phở Phượng is a bit sweet and salty to my taste (or maybe because I was there in the evening, the both had became much more concentrated? hmm). I often go to Phở Loan on Hoàng Văn Thụ st. It’s on the same side with the famous bánh mì 110 🙂

    1. Tom says:
      June 20, 2014 at 1:16 AM

      Hi An,
      Yes, it still has the southern sweetness – but I think that’s to be expected on any bowl of phở in the south. I like this one because the broth has more depth of flavour than most others I’ve tried in southern Vietnam.
      I think I’ve been to Phở Loan quite some time ago – I’ll have to try it again 🙂
      Tom

      1. Thanh Nguyen says:
        October 8, 2014 at 7:49 PM

        This link is for you Tom. The 10 best Northern Pho in Saigon.
        http://foodyvn.wordpress.com/2014/05/08/hcm-top-10-tiem-pho-bac-noi-tieng-tai-sai-gon/

        1. Tom says:
          October 9, 2014 at 3:12 PM

          Thank you. That’s very interesting.
          Tom

  9. iaM Jessi says:
    June 1, 2014 at 3:40 PM

    Hi. I’d really love to recommend to you this famous place: Phu Gia noodles at 146E Ly Chinh Thang Dist.3.

    1. Tom says:
      June 1, 2014 at 11:27 PM

      OK, thank you. I will give it a try some day soon.
      Tom

  10. Katherine says:
    May 21, 2014 at 8:45 AM

    Looking forward to trying this place out. I also love a rich broth with notes of cinnamon, however my husband is convinced pho from the south is better because the meat is more tender. This can only be solved by eating more pho!

    1. Tom says:
      May 21, 2014 at 10:19 PM

      Hi Katherine,

      That’s interesting, I don’t think I ever noticed that the meat was more tender in the south – I’ll also just have to eat more pho to find out 🙂

      Hope you enjoy my favourite place in Saigon.

      Tom

  11. James Clark says:
    April 27, 2014 at 5:31 AM

    This is not far from where I live and yet I had never been! Great recommendation and I will be back 🙂

    1. Tom says:
      April 27, 2014 at 9:48 AM

      Thanks, James. Hope to grab a bowl together next time you’re in town!
      Tom

  12. Bob says:
    April 26, 2014 at 12:55 PM

    Hi Tom
    It looks delicious. My daughter teaches in HCMC so I will be forwarding this piece to her. We had Pho in several places when I visited in November but missed this place…but will be sure to hit when I visit this fall. There is only one place in my town that serves Pho, so we make do, but I cant wait to return. BTW you should send this to Anthony Bourdain!
    I Enjoy your writing,
    Bob

    1. Tom says:
      April 26, 2014 at 1:23 PM

      Thanks, Bob. Let me know what you think after you’ve tried it. Regards Bourdain – sure, I’ll give it a go. This pho place is right next to the ‘Lunch Lady’ which Bourdain played his part in promoting back in a 2009 episode of No Reservations.
      Tom

  13. Jodi says:
    April 18, 2014 at 9:13 AM

    Have tried. Can confirm. Would eat again. 🙂

    1. Tom says:
      April 18, 2014 at 9:25 AM

      Glad to hear it, Jodi!

  14. Christian says:
    April 14, 2014 at 10:16 AM

    Hi Tom,
    thanks a lot for this new interesting place to try! I’m literally Pho-addict! and normally when I’m in HCMC I love the pho bo of Pho Le (http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g293925-d3741121-Reviews-Pho_Le-Ho_Chi_Minh_City.html) I was wondering if you ever tried their Pho!

    1. Tom says:
      April 15, 2014 at 4:01 PM

      Hi Christian,
      Yes, I’ve been to Pho Le and I like it, but I prefer this one 🙂 I hope you it too. Happy eating!
      Tom