You would think it’s easy to find an excellent bowl of pho in Ho Chi Minh City. (It’s not.) You’d think there’d be a pho shop on every corner. (There practically is.) But as many times as I’ve been to Saigon, I had yet to taste a bowl of steaming beef noodle soup that I felt was on par, if not better, than the bowls I can get on Houston’s Bellaire Boulevard.

People are surprised when I tell them this. Why? They ask. Why would the national dish of Vietnam be better in America than in its own birth country?

I have a few conjectures. First of all, the quality of beef we get in the U.S. is better than that in Vietnam. I mean, I live in Texas where cattle is king. And better cows mean better bones and meat, which are the foundation of solid pho. Secondly, I think our Vietnamese-American palates have evolved to prefer bolder, saltier flavors. Much of the pho I’ve had in Vietnam are, dare I say, on the bland side.

But not anymore.

I finally found my favorite bowl of beef noodle soup in Saigon at Pho Le in District 3. While Pho Hoa Pasteur might be the more famous noodle shop, I found Pho Le to have a better mastery over the spiced soup. The broth is more savory than those of other shops, and the servings are larger for us fat-ass Americans. I also like how they serve a slightly wider noodle, which is reminiscent of how my mama used to make her pho. They don’t skimp on the meat either, according to my (again) fat-ass American standards, and even though the noodles are cooked a little longer than I’d prefer (I’ve found most noodles in Vietnam are cooked beyond al dente—again, must be a difference of palates), the meal was incredibly satisfying. Finally, a bowl of pho in Vietnam I can get behind!

The hubs agrees, and he should know. Even though he’s Korean, he loves pho more than me. It’s usually his first go-to meal when he returns to Houston from a trip abroad.

Not this time, though, because he’s got Pho Le to satisfy his chronic cravings.

I found two addresses for Pho Le online, and I could’ve sworn it was in District 3. But Ho Chi inh City is famous for its challenging street navigation (read: addresses are sometimes disregarded, and you just need to know how to get there either by landmarks or a knowledgeable local guide). If you know the correct address, let me know in the comments.

Pho Le
Address 1: 303–305 Vo Van Tan St., District 3
Address 2: 414–413 Nguyen Trai St., Ward 7, District 5

Obviously, it’s in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.


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