Pho Tau Bay - A unique brand of Pho in Saigon
Along with Pho Hoa, Pho Hung or Pho Dau, the name Pho Tau Bay appeared in Saigon before 1975. Pho Tau Bay Restaurant ("Tau Bay" means "Airplane" in English) was opened by Mr. Pham Dinh Nhan - a North-to-South migrant.
Why it was called “Pho Tau Bay”?
In 1954, Mr. Pham Dinh Nhan brought along his wife, his son (Mr. Pham Dinh Khang) and the flavor of Pho Tau Bay from the North to the South. At that time, there was only one Pho restaurant located on Ly Thai To street (District 10).
At that time, in the South, people did not eat too much Pho. Guests coming there are mostly Northern compatriots, they mostly came for regional favors.
Mr. Pham Dinh Nhan used to sell Pho on Ba Trieu street, his name is Nhan so that they called “Pho Nhan”. Then there are some soldiers gave Mr. Nhan a forage cap, he loved the cap and wore it all the time. The diners coming there said that he looked like a pilot, so that they called him "Mr. Tau Bay" (Mr. "Airplane") and the name “Pho Tau Bay” was born since then.
Why does Pho Tau Bay become famous?
It was not until 1954 that the name Pho Tau Bay appeared in Saigon. Pho restaurant is located on the Ly Thai To Street. Pho Tau Bay has been famous for its delicious taste, accompanied by the "conservative" of the owner.
"This kind of Pho is cooked in the Northern style, so there are no herbs, spices or soy sauce and chilli sauce, it is just accompanied by a bottle of fish sauce. I heard many people say, at that time anyone who wants to eat added ingredients so that they put them in the bag and then take it along with them when they came to eat. The owner resolutely did not serve added ingredients.” - said a diner.
People say Mr. Nhan is conservative, but actually, he is afraid that adding vegetables may lose the natural flavor of Pho. After he passed away, his wife, who wanted to satisfy diners, had severed vegetables with Pho.
"Red party" vs "Yellow party" of Pho Tau Bay
Currently, if you want to enjoy Pho Tau Bay, you have to come to Ly Thai To Street (District 10). But when arriving, many people are confused because they do not differentiate which one is the "genuine restaurant” because there are two stores together named "Pho Tau Bay". People usually call them "yellow-shirt" shop and "red-shirt" shop according to the uniform color of the staff.
Mrs. Hanh - grandson of Mr. Pham Dinh Nhan, the current owner of the red-shirt shop - explained the appearance of two shops to customers: "Both of the shops are originated from one family". She kept saying without evaluating which shop owns the better taste: "Taste and comments are up to each person. Pho Tau Bay is now very different from the past".
For satisfying curiosity, customers usually come to eat both dishes from two shops. At first glance, the way that they decorate and serve the dishes is quite similar. Diners may be fascinated by the attractive aroma from the first time stepping into the two shops.
Yellow-shirt shop’s Pho is thick with baked-on-fire-ginger-fragranced broth while Pho of the red-shirt shop features out Southern style with fatty, sweet, bones-fragranced broth.
It is noticed that visitors coming to the yellow-shirt shop rarely add the herbs or parsley into Pho although the owner has placed them on the table. In contrast, the guests of the red-shirt shop usually spray all kinds of soy sauce and chilli sauce, add pieces of lemon and a lot of vegetables into the bowl.
In the past, once coming to Pho Tau Bay, diners had to bring some vegetables to add into the bowl because the restaurant did not serve as it does now. You may hear from many citizens that a true bowl of Pho is not eaten together with herbs or parsley. "I come here many times, but hardly do I add herbs or any spices. I want to enjoy the full original flavor of the dish” - a diner of the yellow party shared.
Xe Lua Bowl - a feature of Pho Tau Bay
The name of dishes from the two restaurants also made many people wonder - "Xe Lua" Bowl ("Train" Bowl). The chef from the red party says that this is the name of the dish: "Because the name of our restaurant is "Tau Bay" ("Airplane") so there must be a dish named “Xe Lua” (“Train”)” the chief said while bursting out laughing.
At the two restaurants, "Train" is priced at 70,000 VND, it is full of noddles and meat inside.
Visitors of these two restaurants are mostly patrons. Many older people come to enjoy the tastes associated with their memories. Young people also choose here to start a new day, as a way to preserve and find out what they just heard through the narrative.
Pho is considered as the culinary characteristic of Vietnam. In Saigon, Pho is very popular with diners. Apart from Pho in general and Pho Tau Bay in particular, Saigon also has many delicious dishes that foreigners should enjoy. Coming to Saigon is a chance for you to join the culinary paradise of Vietnam. If you would like to have an enjoyable experience about this city and its cuisine, contact Saigon On Motorbike and create your own culinary journey.