When restaurateur David Huynh decided to embark on a food pilgrimage to Vietnam, he went in with an open mind and willing tastebuds.
When David Huynh decided to embark on a food pilgrimage to Vietnam, he went in with an open mind and willing taste buds.
The Vietnamese-Canadian restaurateur, who currently runs Civil Liberties, a "no menu" speakeasy in Toronto, was looking to expand his culinary repertoire by digging deep into his roots.
Although his parents had immigrated to Toronto from Saigon during the Vietnam War, he knew little of Vietnamese cuisine.
His plan was to open a quick-service Vietnamese pho restaurant inspired by how the iconic noodle soup is made and enjoyed in Vietnam.
Pho, considered to be Vietnam's national dish, is beloved throughout the country and the world. In its simplest form, it consists of a fragrant broth poured over a bed of fresh rice noodles topped with a handful of green onion, herbs and succulent sliced meat.
While beef pho (pho bo) is the most popular and is eaten throughout the day, chicken pho (pho ga) is also much loved - it's said to have been first concocted in 1939 when the government tried to curb the slaughtering of cows by forbidding the sale of beef on Mondays and Fridays.
As it's lighter than its beefy counterpart, it is often preferred for breakfast.
But there are countless variations on the theme, and everyone has his or her favourite local spot to eat it.
Huynh's one-month trip, his first time in Vietnam, took him from the north to the south and through the country's central provinces, searching for what he considered the ideal bowl of pho.
His first stop was the capital Hanoi, widely considered to be the birthplace of the dish in the early 20th Century.
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