How to Eat Pho

What is the correct etiquette for dipping into a steaming bowl of pho? Eating noodle soup has about the same level of formality as pancakes, says Thi N. “You pretty much eat it any way you want.” However, he says the standard routine is to throw in some bean sprouts, rip up and throw in every sort of herb you can, squeeze in some lime juice, then sip the broth with your spoon, and either shovel the noodles directly into your mouth with your chopsticks, or use your chopsticks to transfer the noodles into your spoon and slurp them from there, “or whatever makes you happy,” says Thi N.

What’s more important than etiquette, continues Thi N., is proper application of condiments, which may vary with the quality of the broth. In places that serve beautifully pure, clean, limpid broth, try not adding any hoisin or Sriracha sauce. You can put a little on a side dish to dip your meats in, but don’t ruin delicate broth with spicy, strongly flavored condiments.

Reserve the spicy sauce for cloudy, second-rate broth. And if the broth is really superior, feel free to pick up your bowl and drain the last of it directly into your mouth. Thi N. assures us that proprietors will take this as a compliment.

Another extremely important point of pho etiquette is to “make loud exaggerated slurpy noises as you eat the noodles and soup,” says ipsedixit. “It just makes everything taste THAT much better.”

Helena Echlin’s Table Manners column has more on noodle etiquette.

Board Link: Pho etiquette?

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