Is Beef Pho the Only Real Vietnamese Pho – read here!

To put it simply, this isn’t pho. In no way was this dish pho. This dish drew a lot of criticism from Vietnamese fans on Instagram who were quick to note it resembled nothing remotely similar to pho.


Pho takes hours to craft. The broth is both art and science. While variations exist, a lot of pho comprises of a beef-based broth, requires specifically rice noodles, and a specific mixes of garnishes, sauces, herbs, and spices.


This particular blog post was seen as a way to capitalize on trendy pho recipes and was an appropriation of Vietnamese food without putting in any work into understanding what pho is, what goes into making a bowl of pho, and the actual flavors and presentation that form true Vietnamese pho.

Sadly, this isn’t the first time ‘pho’ has been used as a keyword nor is it likely to be the last.


Is Beef Pho the Only Type of Pho There Is?

If you visit a Toronto pho restaurant and look at a menu, you will find dozens of varieties of traditional Vietnamese pho.


Some are vegan, some are vegetarian. Some are beef, others are chicken. There are many combinations of ingredients one can have in a bowl of pho yet even with these customizations, it’s still all pho.


Classic Vietnamese pho is made often from a beef broth but that doesn’t mean beef pho is singularly the only type that’s allowed. Here are some common characteristics of pho that typically are maintained bowl to bowl.


  • The average length of time it takes to cook modern-day pho is 3-6 hours minimum.


  • Gluten-free rice noodles are the only type of noodles used in pho.


  • The broth is made from slow-cooking beef stock or chicken stock, often made from a whole cut of beef or chicken with the bones included.


  • Pieces of meat – such as beef and chicken – are cut length-wise and very thinly. In vegetarian pho, this may not be the case.


  • Fish sauce is often used to season pho at the very end, depending on the variety.


  • Common spices, herbs, and other ingredients include roasted ginger, cinnamon, pieces of onion, and star anise.


Using these points as building blocks, one can customize pho according to the tastes and preferences of the customer.


This is what has made restaurants such as TorontoPHO so successful. Pho can appeal to more or less anyone. There’s a meat-free vegetarian pho, just like there is chicken pho and beef pho. Customers can have pho served almost any way they so desire.


Is beef pho the only real pho – no, it’s not. Even in Vietnam, pho varies region by region. The people use the ingredients available to them. When beef is not available, chicken is. Certain varieties are more seafood-focused for this same reason.


Unlike other foods, pho in Toronto, Vietnam, or wherever is more about philosophy in food preparation and the cultural approach to making this food than it is about any of the specific ingredients in a bowl. So long as this is done and the cultural basis of the meal is respected, a customer’s bowl of pho can look like a multitude of different things.


Enjoy your own private bowl of pho from TorontoPHO today. Order from our menu and have chicken pho, beef pho, vegetarian pho, or any of the other types of pho delivered to your front door.