While Hanoi has 'pho', Saigon has 'hu tieu'

By Kim Thuy   June 30, 2016 | 01:09 am PT
While the popular ‘pho’ has gained the coveted status of being what marketers would call “top of the list" whenever one comes to Hanoi, Saigoneers have crowned their own dish, which many mistake for ‘pho’: meet ‘hu tieu’.

Hanoians love ‘pho’, but 'hu tieu' enjoys a monopoly over southern belliesWhen you're in Saigon or elsewhere in the Mekong Delta region, there's bound to be 'hu tieu' noodle soup. 'Hu tieu' (called Kuy Teav or Phnom Penh noodle soup) is a Cambodian-Chinese concoction that Saigoneers have 'borrowed' and changed to suit their tastes.

The main difference between the two dishes are the noodles. Alhough both come from rice, 'hu tieu' noodles are thinner and chewier. 

In addition, beef, the meat used in pho, is not the protein of choice in 'hu tieu'. The Chinese prefer pork, shrimp and crab meat, and add bean sprouts to their list of ingredients.


'Hu tieu' with shrimp. Photo by VnExpress/Kim Thuy

The occasional beef meatball can be found in 'hu tieu', but sliced steamed beef is non-existent.


'Hu tieu' with beef meatballs. Photo by VnExpress/Khanh Hoa

Like 'pho', 'hu tieu' has various versions to choose from.


Photo by VnExpress/Khanh Hoa

The toppings may include pork, pork ribs, pork offal, shrimp, squid, wonton dumplings, fried garlic, fried shallots and scallions.

It also has a "dried" verison, is lightly chewy with a stronger sauce than the "wet" variety. At present, there are about 20 different types of 'hu tieu' in Saigon for diners to select from.


The "dried" version. Photo by diadiemanuong.com


Don't worry about feeling thirsty with a dry bowl of 'hu tieu' as it is always accompnied with a small bowl of soup and some vegetables. Photo by VnExpress/Kim Thuy


Another type of "dried" 'hu tieu'. The noodle is mixed with a special sauce to make it more tasty. Photo by VnExpress/Kim Thuy


Photo by VnExpress/Kim Thuy

Tip: 'Hu tieu' will cost you between VND20,000 and VND40,000. And of couse, the street vendors are the cheapest "restaurants".

Related news:

> The real 'pho' experience

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