If you are just after our personal recommendation for the best Pho in Hanoi we loved Cua Dong – an authentic street food experience that is top notch!
There are more Pho places in Hanoi than one person could ever possibly sample. But we are sure going to try!
This is Anh’s home town so expect this list to be updated every year. When we find something better, then you can expect Cua Dong to be knocked down a notch.
Our sophisticated selection method has three pillars so far:
- Recommendations from Anh’s family
- Getting in a taxi and asking the driver to take us to the best pho in Hanoi
- Walking into the closest pho restaurant when hungry (this method yielded no. 2!)
This became our staple breakfast every day (yes, breakfast!) for the whole week spent in Vietnam. Previously this was only ever my first meal of the day when I was treating a hangover. But it grew on me fast!
A light, refreshing, bowl of pho to kick start the day was an easy habit to fall in to.
The best part is, it costs about two bucks a bowl…
Combating Pho Subjectivity
One extra comment before we get into the list. Taste is obviously a subjective thing so I will list a rating from both Anh and myself at for each vendor.
Anh is also a Vietnamese native…. And a woman…. I am a middle-aged white dude.
So I’ll leave it to you how you interpret those differing perspectives.
Best Pho in Hanoi
1. Cua Dong
- Location: 18 Hang Gai
- Price: 30,000
- James: 4.5/5
- Anh: 5/5
- Found by: Recommendation from Anh’s family
This was the first and best Pho that we tasted in Hanoi.
After a late night of overindulgence and nursing a mild headache this light and refreshing bowl of pho was just what the doctor ordered!
Service is lightning fast and they do not skimp on the chili and lime.
What made this Pho stand out was the freshness of the raw meat in the broth. This stayed wonderfully tender throughout and when coupled with the subtle broth was an outstanding combination.
This was also the first time I tried the chinese donuts dipped in the soup…. A habit I will be continuing in the future.
The outdoor seating is part of it’s charm and is placed on a street corner that is busy but vibrant.
As a result, prices were rock bottom compared to all indoor restaurants we visited, but it didn’t have that grimy feel that some street side seating can have.
Happy to have set the benchmark early in our visit – nothing was able to get close in the week that followed.
2. Quoc Hung
- Price: 30,000
- James: 4/5
- Anh: –
- Found by: Wandering aimlessly around the Van Mieu district
Anh will have to sit this one out as I found it on my own. I am not sure if she believes how well this rated…. But I’m writing the article so I have this one in number two.
This is a small father and son operation that was a block away from our hotel. I stumbled in lonely and hungry while Anh was taking care of family business.
With some very poor viet, and a lot of pointing I was able to get the standard bowl of beef pho.
It was the raw beef that let this one down just a touch. Not at the same level as Cua Dong.
But this old family recipe really hit the spot.
I was the only person sitting in the restaurant so they were very attentive. Probably the only white guy they had in there all day.
3. Pho 10
- Location: Ly Quoc Su
- Price: 60,000
- James: 3.5/5
- Anh: 4/5
- Found by: Taxi driver’s recommendation
This was an indoor restaurant style venue that was solid, but not blown away with considering the price tag.
They had a unique kind of chili sauce which looks like a jar full of slop. I was excited to give it a go, but found the flavor a little underwhelming.
The fresh chili was great though and I got a good sweat by the end of the bowl.
Anh dropped a new taste bomb on me at this venue when she requested a couple of eggs for us. They came in a small bowl of soup and the eggs lightly cook in the soup.
I love a soft runny egg so this coupled with the broth was a mouth watering combination. The best part being you are meant to slurp it all up in one go!
Something that I do back in Australia when I know no one is looking.
4. Pho Thin
- Location: 13 Lo Duc, Ngo Thi Nham
- James: 3/5
- Anh: 3.5/5
- Found by: Taxi driver’s recommendation
This pho would be an acquired taste and was an obvious favorite with the locals despite its relatively high price.
As you walk into the restaurant you are faced with a number of steel benches that are covered in a layer of grease and grime that is not overly pleasant, and there is an unusual stench in the air.
When the Pho was served, on that first sip of the broth I knew exactly what the source of that stench was… Deep down I already knew.
The pho here has a very unique taste. Very strong, thick, and something that was toeing the line between offensive odor/taste and culinary genius. I still don’t know which way I am leaning…
Nah, the smell was too much for me.
Anh was more positive than I but not by much. Perhaps it is just my western tastebuds shying away from something widely regarded.
Regardless, it is worth tasting for yourself.
The presentation of the soup was also very unique.
There was a thick cover of greenery that I thought would be overwhelming, but as I sipped away it didn’t seem to make the eating feel bulky or slow compared to the standard bowl of pho.
So a tentative third selection here.
This is a franchised Pho place with multiple locations. The original restaurant is apparently the best and is located at….
We will do a comparison on our next visit!!
Pho to Avoid
1. Pho Van
- Location: 1 Hang Muoi
- James: 2/5
- Found by: Family recommendation (and bad directions)
So this was not actually the recommended place. It was nearby, but we went to the wrong one.
What I didn’t like about the serving here was that the broth tasted very generic and more like chicken than beef.
It seemed like more of an all purpose soup that would be used for all dishes.
Perhaps they do a mean Pho Ga (chicken)…. But that’s not what we have been rating each place on so this one went down a notch.
The food hygiene looked a notch below the other places we had visited also (but hey, its Vietnam) and there were a few extra bugs hanging around when we were eating that had a real taste for the (lime) on the table – which was a real turn off.
This is located well out of the town center so it is unlikely you would be in the area to swing by. So don’t make the trip just for this.
However, we will hopefully find our intended destination the next time we visit and we can report something better then!
We have barely scratched the surface for our Hanoi Pho adventures so bookmark this page and come back in a few months.
As we continue to test them out we will add to our list here so you have the most up to date list as our penetration of the market grows!
So far the street vendors and small family eateries have outperformed the better-established restaurants. The difference in taste and the experience is very different. So even if you only have a couple of days in Hanoi we would encourage you to sample both if you can.