For many residents of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, Pho Tiu Ba Phuong has become a memory to cherish and refurbish.
Especially at the onset of dry weather, when people long for something quick and refreshing that’s bit sour and a bit sweet, pho tiu answers their call.
Pho tiu is a different version of the iconic noodle soup that includes fresh flat rice noodles, char siu pork slices, roasted peanuts and vegetables mixed with a special sauce.
The eatery opened in the Dong Xuan Market area around 40 years ago.
Pho Tiu Ba Phuong is a family business. The eatery, which opened in the Dong Xuan Market area around 40 years ago, has been passed down to several generations. The family did try to sell another type of noodle soup earlier, but it did not work out.
It is not difficult to reach this stall, apart from a bit of walking and squeezing past people. It occupies a small space in a narrow alley near the big market
People can take Hang Chieu Street to get to the alley, which some consider a culinary paradise. Motorbikes have to be parked at the beginning of the alley, for a slightly higher-than-usual price, but it is a small price to pay to enjoy a special dish.
The alley is packed with food stalls that provide small benches that can only accommodate two to three people at a time, so some waiting is also involved. But this particular eatery attracts regular patrons by virtue of a special sauce first made in the early 1970s.
The sauce is the key to the dish’s success.
Five small pots in the kitchen contain the ingredients to make the sauce with a recipe handed down through several generations. This sauce is ladled into the bowl of noodles, raw vegetables and pork before peanuts and fried shallot are sprinkled on top. The sauce gives the dish a sweet, sour and salty taste.
The vegetables consist of familiar spice greens in Vietnam, including cilantro, lettuce and different kinds of basil. The soft texture of spiced meat and smell of roasted peanuts whets the appetite, and the dish satiates.
Many small stalls stand next to each other in this narrow alley.
Others have tried, but failed to copy the dish, and those who want to have a bowl of authentic Pho tiu always make their way to this Dong Xuan market alley.
“I am always satisfied here. I finish everything in the bowl. The taste here is both strange and familiar,” one patron said.