Sep 23 2011
Oh, pho, fabulous pho! To the uninitiated it might sound like it’s only soup, and really who’d want to rhapsodise about soup. But to those in the know about pho, it’s so, so much more than that. This is a soup that has it all. There are many variations but at the heart of it, there’s the magnificent broth whose clarity belies a depth and richness of flavour that comes from long cooking of beef bones, spices and caramelised onions. In it swim slivers of tasty chicken or beef, wrapped around with hearty white noodles and on the side you’ll find an abundance of delicious fresh herbs, lime cheeks, sliced chillies, and an array of dipping sauces to choose from including fish sauce, hoi sin and chilli sauce.
This soup is a meal in itself; a rich, satisfying meal that reaches every corner and comes packed with protein, carbs, vitamins and every good thing you can think of. It’s also the best hangover cure going.
Pho is originally a Vietnamese dish, though you’ll find a very close relative to it in local restaurants all over Cambodia where it is served for breakfast and certainly beats anything Kellogg’s can produce as a great start to the day. In Siem Reap, it can be found in a number of places, including a stall in front of the 24-hour supermarket on Sivatha Boulevard which tends to open in the evenings. If you like your soups to be a little more salubrious, then check out the following from among Siem Reap’s dining options:
If you’re a traditionalist, then the Soup Dragon on Pub Street is the place for you. Here, it only appears on the breakfast menu, though if you ask nicely they’ll do it later too. The broth here is the lightest and the clearest, making for a gentle introduction to the dish and, at $1.75 for a breakfast serving, $2 later in the day, it’s also fantastic value.
A heartier example can be found at the classy and wonderfully romantic restaurant Paris Saigon in the Wat Bo area. Here, for $5, you’ll be served a deep, rich noodle filled broth that will certainly inspire passions, even if not always for your dining partner though we hope it does that too.
By far the most filling and delicious pho in Siem Reap has got to be the FCC Angkor’s spectacular take on the classic dish. At $8.50, it may seem a little steep for a soup, though rest assured any reservations you may have will evaporate the second it is served. A huge bowl of incredibly rich and delicious broth filled to bursting with noodles and slices of roasted chicken is accompanied by fronds of pok choy and reams of fresh herbs to mix in. The faint of heart and stomach may even struggle to finish it.
A final note on pho. Ordering it can sometimes make a visitor sound like they’re reciting an old English nursery rhyme: “May I have the fee fi, fo fum, emm, that one please?” The correct pronunciation is actually “fuh”, as in funny, but slightly longer.
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Wat Bo Street
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