The History of Pho & the Chicken Pho Controversy.

The History of Pho & the Chicken Pho Controversy.

"Pho is undoubtedly Vietnam’s most iconic dish known all around the world. Locals love it for breakfast and travelers seek the best bowls in the country. Here is a brief history of beef pho as well as the chicken pho history:"

The History of Pho

Beef Pho History

It all started at the end of the 19th century when French colonialism reached its peak. For food, that meant an increase in the availability of beef because of the French demand. All that beef consumption lead to the locals finding ways to make the most of the scraps and bones.

About 60 miles from Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, lies a small town that claims to have invented pho bo, or beef noodle soup. While there is no person to have claimed the invention of the dish, it is said that the townspeople used the beef bones to deepen the flavor of their soup broth.

As the dish popularized in Hanoi, it included rice vermicelli and water buffalo meat instead of beef. Then, the noodle soup dish reverted back to using beef with a more refined and clearer broth.

When the country divided in 1954 millions of northerners migrated south where pho experienced further evolutions. Chefs added sugar and herbs to the broth and ate the soup with hoisin and chili sauces.

Today you will still find differences between pho in Hanoi and in the south.

"It is interesting to note that “pho” came from the French word “feu” meaning “fire.” Food historians have concluded that the Vietnamese pho is an adaptation from the French pot au feu, their beef stew with broth and vegetables."

Chicken Pho History

Chicken pho was introduced in 1939. Restaurants sold the dish only on Mondays and Fridays because the government forbade the sale of beef on those days as a way to control the slaughter of animals for food.

Purists hated it. They only wanted the beef pho. But sooner rather than later, everyone grew to love chicken pho because the taste inevitably won the people over. Today, there are even pho restaurants specializing solely in chicken pho.

By Angela Sibal



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Very educational! Definitely learned how different Northern Pho is and I guess I’ve been eating Southern Pho my whole life in North America

Marietta Thornton

I used to believe that Chicken Pho was the fusion pho created in the U.S. until I went to Hanoi, Vietnam. What I found out there was that chicken pho was cooked by totally different recipe from the beef one; and chicken pho has to be served with chicken broth, not beef broth.

Joseph R.

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