Vietnamese People Are Divided Over The Right Way to Eat Pho

Vietnamese People Are Divided Over The Right Way to Eat Pho
Ryan General
September 12, 2016
Bon Appétit Magazine’s video of an American chef showing the “proper consumption techniques” of a very popular Vietnamese delicacy has received severe backlash after it went viral earlier this month. A survey conducted by a local newspaper in Vietnam, however, showed that there are Vietnamese who actually agree with some of the points in the video.
Philadelphia-based chef Tyler Akin was heavily criticized for appearing to be an expert of a dish he seemed to have very little knowledge of. He suggested to avoid adding Sriracha or hoisin sauce before even tasting the broth, yet he also recommended to “squeeze as much lime as they give you” into the soup.
He also demonstrated how to use chopsticks, which involved twirling the rice noodles like one would do to pasta. Some commenters left sarcastic remarks thanking him for pointing out how the Vietnamese have been eating their dish the wrong way.
But while many did not like his version of how the popular dish is consumed, some Vietnamese actually agreed on some of his points, according to a survey by local newspaper Tuoi Tre on Saturday.
Readers were asked to share their view of whether it is best “to sauce or not to sauce” their pho, and the results were mixed:
“Adding sauce or not depends on everyone’s taste,” reader Thanh Van was quoted. “To taste the pho as it is served, we should not add Sriracha or hoisin sauce, but put the sauces in separate small dishes.”
Another reader also named Thanh agreed, saying, “Cannot agree more! Adding the sauces will really destroy the typical flavor of the pho.”
“How could the pho keep its flavor with the addition of sauce?”said Cao Hieu.
There was also a difference between the pho eating customs of northern and southern Vietnam.
Commenter Phuong Duy described the Northern way of never putting the sauce into the bowl of pho.
“The prime part of pho is its broth,” he said. “But it is OK for me to add some lime.” He shared that he found it surprising to “see people in Saigon have pho with a lot of Sriracha or hoisin sauce in their bowls.”
Yet he believes that each “taste is personal,” and “it is up to everyone to add nothing or something to their pho.”
For southerners, eating pho without the black and red sauces is almost unimaginable. “The two sauces and lime all elevate the flavor of pho,” said Hieu Nguyen Trong, who boasts of having “eaten pho for the last 39 years,” he said. “The proper way to eat pho is to put all those things to your bowl.”
What’s your way of eating pho?
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