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Pho 2000

October 22, 2013

Our day long tour of Ho Chi Minh City also included a lunch stop at a restaurant that’s become quite popular with foreign visitors every since the year 2000 when a certain foreign dignitary dined at the same restaurant.  The restaurant is called Pho 2000, located directly across the street from the popular Ben Thanh Market.  The foreign dignitary that visited was then-President Bill Clinton and his daughter Chelsea Clinton.

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Pho 2000, whose owners actually reside in the United States, had the honor of hosting the President and his entourage during their historic visit to Ho Chi Minh City.  Now, this small little restaurant, on the second floor of a building, right above a Coffee Bean, which you actually have to walk through to get to the restaurant, is a hotbed for tourists like me.  Hey, if it’s good enough for the President, it’s good enough for me, no?

dining room

The restaurant really is tiny too!  On days when cruise ships visit Phu My/Ho Chi Minh and it seems like every tourist on a tour is brought here to dine in, it starts to feel really small.  It’s a wonder that locals still come and dine at this place when it gets so over run.

presidential meal

Our tour group actually took up 2 tables at the small restaurant, one of the tables being the actual table that the President sat at, located close to the windows looking out over Ben Thanh Market across the street.  The table is a red table, distinguishing it from the other round light brown tables in the establishment.  On the table is tabled a laminated sheet which details the what the President and Chelsea Clinton dined on when they ate at the restaurant.

picture of president

On the wall around the table there are 2 framed photographs of the President inside the restaurant with members of the restaurant staff that served him during his visit.  I found it a pretty neat experience to be dining where the President had dined.food menudrinks menu

When we were seated at our tables, the staff gave us menus from which to order from.  Though, the menus weren’t necessary as the meal that we paid for with our tour already came with several set items from which we could choose from.  Though I suppose if we wanted to order something separately off the menu, we could have and just paid for it on our own.  To cater to all the foreigners who visit the restaurant, the menus came in English and were accompanied by pictures so that we would know what we were ordering.

condiments

Like any good Vietnamese pho restaurant, each person was given a plate of “condiments” to go with their meal.  These are condiments in the sense that they are used the same way we use ketchup and mustard here in the States.  The “condiments” consisted of sliced red chilies (look at the size of them!), fresh mint leaves, fresh Thai basil leaves, and sliced limes.  We could use all or none of these “condiments” to dress up our pho dish.

shrimp spring rolls

First came the appetizers, which were shrimp and vegetable rolls wrapped in traditional rice paper and deep fried and served along side a sweet and spicy dipping sauce.  Usually, with Vietnamese food, the appetizer you see is spring rolls, which is essentially what these are, but instead of deep frying the rice paper, the rice paper is just hydrated and then wrapped raw around the shrimp and vegetables.  To see it deep fried in this case was a refreshing, and delicious change.  The shrimp and the vegetables paired perfectly and were deep fried to a super crispy texture.  Since the wrapper was rice paper rather than you’re traditional wonton wrappers, it made for a crispier and flakier “skin” and allowed the stuffing inside the egg roll to really be the star.  Each of the spring rolls were cut in half, and the table was served enough spring rolls that we were each given a whole one to ourselves.  I loved the spring rolls and would have been happy just eating these.

beef pho

But the star of the meal and what we came for was a bowl of traditional Vietnamese pho.  We were given a choice of beef, chicken or vegetable.  As beef pho is the traditional dish, everyone at our table ordered the beef version.  Pho is a traditional Vietnamese noodle dish which consists of broth, rice noodles, meat and herbs.  In our case, the herbs were sliced green onions and chopped cilantro, plus the “condiments” of mint and Thai basil left at our table.  The beef was sliced thin so as to easily be cooked and eaten.  On the table, along with the red chilies was a bottle of chili sauce.  Some at our table decided to put in some chili sauce into their bowl of pho, to which they said it really had no impact because it wasn’t that spicy.  Since there wasn’t enough spice, they then proceed to throw a couple of the sliced red chilies in to their bowl.  That’s when they really tasted the spice.  Apparently, those sliced red chilies that were served to us packed quite the punch!  I thought that pho was delicious and refreshing.  The broth was light, and the rice noodles were light too, so it didn’t just stuff you.  The bowl was large and more than enough for a lunch time meal.  I love having been able to come to Vietnam and eat a real authentic Vietnamese dish in a Vietnamese restaurant.

The wow factor gets bumped up for me when you take into consideration that President Clinton and Chelsea Clinton once dined here.  Good food, good company, relaxing atmosphere all found in this busy restaurant, Pho 2000, in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 22, 2013 7:59 am

    I love Vietnamese food and especially the eggrolls/spring rolls. At my old job I worked with a girl who was Vietnamese and she and her family would make huge batches and sometimes she brought them into work. Amazing! Nothing like those.

  2. October 22, 2013 8:58 am

    You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
    ― Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

    HAPPY TRAVELS 🙂

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