How to Eat Pho Like an Absolute Pro

Having trouble eating your Pho? This article will unlock the secrets of Pho mastery. Pho is a Vietnamese traditional dish that originated in the early twentieth century. Read on to learn how to eat pho like a pro!

You will discover how to wield chopsticks like it’s second nature, and savor every sip of the aromatic broth. Beyond Pho, we will also give you ideas on Vietnamese cuisines that you should try.

What is Pho?

So, what is Pho? Before you learn how to eat pho, you need to answer this question. Pho is a traditional Vietnamese dish. It has gained worldwide popularity for its exquisite flavors. With its rich history and unique blend of flavors, Pho has long retained its coveted position as a staple in Vietnamese cuisine. Before we tell you how to eat your pho, you must understand its origins, components, and cultural significance.

While there are many explanations about the origin of pho, one thing is certain. This dish originated in Vietnam. Most sources believe that pho originated in the early 20th century. It was originally enjoyed by farmers. Some believe that the origins of Pho have been influenced by both Chinese and French culinary traditions. Over time, the soup spread out across Vietnam and eventually reached international markets.

The heart of Pho lies in its deliciously aromatic broth. It is made by simmering beef bones, spices, and herbs for several hours. The broth develops a complex and savory flavor. Key ingredients when making Pho include: rice noodles, and thinly sliced meat. Other key components include an assortment of garnishes like bean sprouts, basil, lime, and chili.

Beyond its culinary appeal, Pho holds a historic cultural significance in Vietnam. Pho represents the essence of Vietnamese culinary heritage and is a symbol of national pride.

top view of beef pho with herbs and bean sprouts

Choosing the Right Pho

Before you know how to eat Pho the right way, it is important to know the different options you have. This traditional dish has evolved over the years to provide a variation for almost everyone including meat lovers, chicken enthusiasts, and dedicated vegetarians.

Perhaps the most popular option is the Pho Bo (Beef Pho). It features thinly sliced beef in a flavorful broth. Chicken Pho (Pho Ga) offers a lighter alternative to tender chicken and a delicate broth that has unique flavors. If you are vegan, Pho Chay is there for you. It features a medley of fresh vegetables, tofu, and sometimes mock meats. When it comes to learning how to eat pho, you can choose your own preference of pho meat.

If you are eating Pho at a restaurant, take note of the variations and toppings offered for each type of Pho. Some restaurants may offer additional options like seafood Pho or spicy Pho. Also, when you are learning how to eat pho, you should pay attention to the accompanying garnishes as they can elevate the flavors of your Pho.

How to Eat Pho Like a Pro

Pho is a beloved cultural dish. If you are to enjoy it, you better enjoy it the right way. There are many things at play when eating pho.

First, when served a steaming bowl of pho, you will be given a spoon and chopsticks. The chopsticks are used to gather the meat, noodles, and vegetables. The spoon is used to scoop up the broth and sip it. Generally, hold the chopsticks in your right hand. The spoon should be in your other hand. Also, be careful of the wooden chopsticks as they can cause splinters. You will also be given a bowl to place the chopsticks. Never leave your chopsticks in the food bowl or on the table as it can be considered rude.

hands pulling pho noodles with chopsticks in the right hand and spoon in the left hand showing how to eat pho

Fresh herbs and bean sprouts are essential accompaniments to Pho. Bean sprouts can be added directly to the Pho or eaten as a refreshing side dish. Feel free to use your chopsticks to place herbs and sprouts in your Pho or consume them separately for a refreshing contrast.

In most cases, lime juice and fish sauce (on Amazon) are provided with Pho. Most people prefer to squeeze the lime juice into the bowl for a tangy flavor. Some add bean sprouts for that desirable crunch to compliment the delicious Pho. As you learn how to eat pho, never hesitate to mix the ingredients as that is how it is done.

As you enjoy your meal, it is better to keep your face close to your bowl and your hands on the table.

Beyond Pho: Exploring Vietnamese Cuisine

If you are into Vietnamese cuisine, there are many more dishes to enjoy beyond Pho. Therefore, don’t limit yourself to just Pho. Venture further and discover the diverse culinary treasures of Vietnam. Pho in itself comes in many different variations. 

Another popular dish you should try is Banh Mi. It is a Vietnamese sandwich filled with a combination of meats, vegetables, and herbs. You should also try out the Bun Cha. It is made of rice noodles served with grilled pork, fresh herbs, and a tangy dipping sauce.

Seafood lovers are not left behind! The Ca Kho To (caramelized fish in a clay pot) and Cha Ca (turmeric-marinated fish) offer unique and tantalizing flavors. Vegetarians can enjoy options like Goi Cuon (spring rolls) or Cuon Chay (vegetarian rice dishes).

Vietnamese bun bo xao noodle bowl to show alternatives to pho


This article has delved deep into the traditional Vietnamese dish Pho. Originally developed in the mid-twentieth century in Vietnam, the dish has evolved and crossed borders in many parts of the world.

If you want to know how to eat Pho like a pro, the most important thing is to master utilizing the provided utensils and condiments. Remember that chopsticks are used to gather the noodles and meat while the spoon is used to sip the soup. Beyond Pho, we encourage you to explore other delectable dishes like Banh Mi, Bun Cha, Ca Kho To, Cha Ca, Goi Cuon, and Com Chay.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are you supposed to slurp when eating pho?

Eating Pho is not like eating Western food. You can slurp without attracting unwanted attention. However, if you are in a Western setup, remember that most people may not be aware of this and may consider it bad table manners. Traditionally, this dish is meant to be enjoyed with some noise. In Vietnamese culture, it’s a compliment to the chef when you slurp a delicious bowl of soup they prepared!

Can I use a fork instead of chopsticks to eat Pho?

Yes, you can use a fork in place of chopsticks. However, it is more traditional to use chopsticks to eat Pho. You can use a fork if you’re more comfortable with it or still mastering your chopstick skills. The most important thing is to enjoy the flavors of Pho, so feel free to use whichever utensil you prefer. After all, the whole point is that you enjoy your meal.

Are there vegetarian or vegan options for Pho?

Absolutely! There are vegetarian options available for Pho. As mentioned earlier on in the article, Pho Chay is a popular choice. It features fresh vegetables, and sometimes tofu. Moreover, some Vietnamese restaurants offer vegetable broth as an alternative to beef or chicken broth.