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It is possible that no other dish represents Vietnam as well as pho: it's deceptive simplicity hides a fascinating complexity of flavours and textures. Pho is the food of the people, from the working class to the elite, and is available for everyone, everywhere - from push-trolleys on the streets to fancy bistros.

The history of pho is not ancient: although there is little written history. It is believed that this delicious noodle soup came in to existance after French colonisation - it is the French who popularised the consumption of red meat. The word pho is also believed to be a variant of the French "feu" (meaning "fire", which has identical pronunciation to pho). Tthe French also have a traditional beef stew called "Pot au Feu", made from slowly cooking cartilaginous pieces of beef for many hours under low heat. The rice noodles and mixed herbs used in the dish are of Chinese influence.

Pho originated in the north, near Hanoi. No two bowls of pho taste the same, due to the specific ratios of herbs, seasoning and cooking styles that each chef uses - but there is still a "standard" (or similar) recipe is found all over in the north. However, as the dish was brought south and taken abroad by immigrant families after the Fall of Saigon, many variations can be found, with different meat cuts, and extra ingredients added. For the northern Vietnamese and "pho purists", this is not a real representation of the dish, and should not be compared to the "true pho" - also known as pho bac.

At MAM Vietnamese Restaurant, we bring you the original pho bac, direct from Hanoi to the centre of Saigon. Come and taste our history!