Today is the Day of Phở – what’s your favorite place to eat this Vietnamese soup in Prague?

Dec. 12, 2023, marks the fifth year of honoring this globally celebrated dish, which is a lunchtime favorite in Czechia. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 12.12.2023 14:30:00 (updated on 12.12.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Today, Dec. 12, marks the "Day of Phở," which celebrates Vietnam’s beloved noodle soup that many countries worldwide enjoy today – especially Czechia. The dish, known for its aromatic broth, rice noodles, herbs, and meat, has gained international acclaim.

Initially emerging in northern Vietnam in the early 20th century, phở slowly spread across the country with regional variations. It gained popularity during the French occupation of Vietnam when beef bones were used to create a more affordable dish for laborers, evolving into the phở we know today.

Vietnamese cuisine gained traction in the Czech Republic in the 2000s, coinciding with a rise in Vietnamese-owned restaurants. Given the Czech love for soups, phở seamlessly integrated into the local culinary scene, particularly in Prague, where it's a favored, budget-friendly lunch option.

The Vietnamese community in the Czech Republic dates back to the 1950s when educational opportunities drew citizens from North Vietnam. Post-1989, many chose to stay, steadily increasing Vietnamese immigration.

Prague hosts the largest Vietnamese population, particularly in districts like Prague 4, nicknamed Little Hanoi, home to the bustling Sapa market with its array of restaurants, food stands, shops, and a Buddhist temple – you can find plenty of ingredients for phở (or spots for enjoying a steaming bowl) here.

Phở in the Czech Republic usually mirrors the northern Vietnamese style, rich in fresh herbs like basil and coriander, although the southern variety features garlic, turmeric, curry, and coconut milk. The dish's unique essence lies in its cooking process, which involves simmering ingredients like ginger, fennel seed, star anise, and cinnamon to create multi-layered flavors and a clear, aromatic broth.

A glossary of Vietnamese dishes from bánh mì to bún chả can be found at the Viet Food Friends site. A map of the best locations for eating phở at the SAPA market can also be found here (you will find tips for the first vegetarian Vietnamese restaurant in the market as well as where to get Nau Da or Vietnamese coffee).

Today, almost every Prague district will invariably have at least one Vietnamese cafe or restaurant that serves the classic dish. Where in Prague do you indulge in a steamy bowl of phở?

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