Whenever I want a simple but filling meal, I immediately think of a bowl of Vietnamese beef pho noodle soup as I prefer food that is more hydrating.
Sometimes when I visit my younger sister in Toronto, Canada, the flight would arrive late at night. It is best to drop in at a Vietnamese specialty shop for an easy dinner.
I have been saying for years that Vietnamese noodle soup in North America tastes much better than that of outlets in Hong Kong — the soup base is more intense and pho noodles are more elastic.
More importantly, the offerings there come with big bundle of sprouts and herbs. In Hong Kong, you only find a thread of two of sprouts pitifully sitting above the noodles, in most eateries.
To my surprise and my delight, North America-style Vietnamese beef pho noodle soup is now actually available in Hong Kong.
Two young Canadian-born Chinese men, who are diehard fans of Vietnamese noodle soup, missed the taste of home so much that they decided to prepare the comfort bowl of noodles by themselves.
They conducted research, tried out different versions of the beef noodle soup in various places, and attended cookery classes in Vietnam before opening the restaurant Fûhn in Causeway Bay.
Recommended by my friend, I gave it a try right away. It is an impressive restaurant that lived up to expectations.
And they managed to even amaze me. Unlike those in North America, Fûhn serves you the noodle soup along with a large bottle of eight kinds of herbs such as basil, perilla, fish mint, rice patty herb, which allows you to customize your noodles freely by picking and dropping the leaves you like.
Toppings include raw beef, cooked beef, beef tendons, beef balls and beef tripe. The quality and quantity were both above average. Pad Thai noodles were used, with their elasticity better than that of most rice noodles.
The only shortcoming was that the soup base was relatively thinner than that from Co Thánh in Central. But the comparison is a bit harsh as Co Thánh has the most supremely sophisticated soup base in town.
All in all, Fûhn’s Vietnamese beef pho noodle soup is a good production replicating a taste of the North America style, as well as representing the owners’ dedication and sincerity.
The dish itself is a very interesting cultural phenomenon.
As Vietnamese people left their country amid the Vietnam War, they brought along their food culture to different parts of the world. That’s why the same beef pho noodles would come off with different interpretations in Australia, France, North America and many other places.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Aug. 7
Translation by John Chui
[Chinese version 中文版]
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