Phở Thìn Lò Đúc


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The “Phở Thìn Lò Đúc”, or Pho Thin, is a renowned family-run “Phở” restaurant at 13 Lo Duc Street, in the southern fringe of Hanoi’s French Quarter. Opened since 1979 by Nguyễn Trọng Thìn, his place serves only one dish – pho bo tai lan, or half-done stir-fried beef noodle soup.

Though most pho shops in the city offer variant beef parts to put into a bowl of pho: from rare to well-done, boiled shank to tail, or tendon to fatty brisket, Pho Thin sticks to its specialty for the last 40 years. Thus it witnesses endless lines of choosy and fastidious dinners queuing up to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday.

Each day, the aroma from the broth cauldron wafting in the air, the green onions, the sizzling of beef being stir-fried at the kitchen of Pho Thin are the smell, color, and sound tempting both Vietnamese and foreign pho lovers. 

Mr. Nguyen Trong Thin

Pho thin Lo Duc

On a recent walking food tour exploring the French Quarter, we took our clients to Pho Thin. 

When we were there, a steady flow of local diners was coming in. There’s no name above the restaurant, so one could easily walk past and completely miss it if he didn’t already know where it is. Instead, it has a small stainless-steel sign, rests against the front door that says “Phở Thìn 13 Lò Đúc”.

Next to the sign, we could see three big cauldrons of steaming broth, the eatery is behind the kitchen – which a lot of people may not view as clean. Fortunately, our clients didn’t mind it as much. As we planned do what locals do, eat where locals eat.

Pho with egg

Since it serves only one dish, the order part was supper easy and quick. The payment was made right after placing the order. We shot for three bowls with an extra poached egg for each, and a small plate of “quẩy” – pho donuts (fried dough) to share. 

The total cost was 205.000 dong (9 US dollars); 60.000 dong for a bowl of pho, 5.000 for each extra egg, and 10.000 dong for the pho donuts. The pho was slightly more expensive than many other pho places in Hanoi, but it’s definitely worth trying.

After paying the amount asked, we went inside for a seat. The décor of the place was functional: stainless steel tables and wooden benches, with old photos of Hanoi and a couple of articles framed on the wall, including a fantastic photo of Thin and his wife.

Pho Thin Lo Duc inside

A bowl of Pho Thin

The waiting was about three minutes before we were tucking into steamy bowls of Pho Thin, which were covered in fresh spring onions. The broth was clear, rich, and much more flavorsome than other northern style pho recipes, featuring a sweet marrow taste with plenty of spring onions, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, and coriander flavors.

The real key, of cause, was the meat. It was sliced into strips, similar to what you’d expect in a stir-fry. Thin made a name for himself by stir-frying the beef with garlic and ginger.

He added the oil to the hot pan. Until its near smoking point, he put ginger and beef to the pan and stirred quickly. The beef was stir-fried very briefly, so it’s not too cooked and not too rare, just in the middle of tender richness. Thus, his pho soup had the smoky flavor that enhance everything.

To achieve his success, the consistency of the cook when stir-frying the beef is clearly a must. At other pho restaurants that also sell this pho tai lan, variance results in either chewy beef or too soft and raw beef. Cooking this very kind of pho is not difficult, but a restaurant needs a very consistent cook. 

Immediately, we slurped the beautiful poached egg yolk first, then squeezed a lime wedge, mixed up the fresh noodles in the broth for a satisfying meal. The rest of that part was our happy time. We finished every drop. Our clients were equally satisfied, using the phonut to soak up the amazing broth left at the bottom.

The condiments on the table helped balance out the tastes. Our preference was always one lime wedge, one tea spoon of fish sauce, and one tea spoon of rice vinegar. Then we put two drops of the hot sauce to kick of some adventure – which often turns out good.

Boiling beef broth

Boiling pho broth

Regarding to the surroundings, the place could have been cleaner, there were paper napkins and lime peels on the floor, and the internal parts of the shop were incredibly warm due to the raging fire going on at the entrance – where the soup was being boiled and the beef was being stir-fried. 

Despite the not so comfortable atmosphere, we had an unparalleled beef noodle soup. Lip smacking good! For this reason, we highly recommend going to the Pho Thin restaurant. 

Be informed that there’s very little English spoken. The turnover of tables is fast so if you see it full, wait a couple of minutes. Don’t go there expecting 5 star waiter service, pay your money and get a real bowl of your favourite Vietnamese broth.

  • Phở Thìn Lò Đúc
  • 13 Lo Duc, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi 
  • 097 706 42 23 
  • 6h00 – 21h00

In addition, there’s a nearby famous restaurant – Bun Cha Huong Lien – where Barack Obama and Anthony Bourdain visited, you may not want to miss.

Join Flavors of Hanoi’s peronal foodie on our daily walking street food tour Hanoi and explore the best of what the city has to offer. Follow us on Instagram and Facebook for update about local restaurants and more.


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