By Gerard Claramunt
Big statement, I know, but this delicious local dish has definitely the potential to be a signature dish in Hanoi in a near future. I’m backing my opinion for our food knowledge in Hanoi and the trendy that we are seeing here and, apparently, some media like CNN agrees on that as they featured Pho Cuon as one of the top dishes in Vietnam.
In our Ha Noi After Dark tour, we bring our guests to a full of local people area. In there the whole street have restaurants that are selling the same thing: Pho Cuon. Whenever Hanoi people want to eat pho cuon, they will come directly to that street. In Vietnam we have this sentence: “Buon co ban, ban co phuong” – means business with the friends, business with the street. In here people believe no one can live and do business alone so when they sell the same thing together in a location, they can attract more and more customers. That doesn’t mean there is no competition. Every single restaurant will have one or a few guys stay outside the street. Their job is to wave the customer and invite them to their restaurant.
Inside our Pho Cuon restaurant our guests will have a very special cooking class because will have a chance to make yourself a roll of Pho Cuon. The lady who will provide all the information is the owner, she’s very kind and allow (if she’s not super busy) Vespa Adventures guests to try it. She usually rolls more than 1.000 Pho Cuon per day.
The History of Pho Cuon
Pho Cuon was made by accident when a few hungry late night revelers when to a restaurant in Ngu Xa Village to eat Pho. The restaurant went out of broth. The men didn’t want to move on so she suggested she would use the square slices of uncut pho and make some rolls with the leftovers.
The restaurant’s boss took noodle to roll with beef and fennel and then he brought it for the guest to eat with sauce. However, it was very unpredictable. The guest felt it so well and since that the boss of this restaurant decided to make “pho cuon” to sell especially this dish used bare beef to make the rolled noodle soup.
Nowadays, Pho Cuon is made of silky white sheets of ‘pho’ (uncut noodles) wrapped around fried beef, lettuce, coriander and dunked in nuoccham (fish sauce with green papaya slices, rice vinegar, garlic and chilli), a mixture deemed as important as the actual rolls.