Western food has gained increasing popularity in Saigon, and the hamburger leads the way. Eateries ranging from haute cuisine to Saigon’s first McDonald’s all serve up this most-recognized Western meal, and it has now met with pho to form an instant fusion classic. At Relish and Sons’ in district 1, the pho burger is a popular occasional dish.
Pho was born in Nam Dinh province in the early 20th century, and has since blossomed into uncountable local and regional variations, spread worldwide by emigrants after the American War. The base ingredients, however, remain the same. A tasty broth holds noodles, herbs, bean sprouts, and chicken or beef, garnished with hoi sin, chilli, and the ubiquitous fish sauce. The pho burger captures the key elements within a pho noodle bun.
The Relish and Sons’ team (44 Dong Du, D1) created the burger as part of the recent 40th anniversary of reunification. The marriage of Vietnamese and American cuisine proved popular with Vietnamese customers, and Relish and Sons’ often bring it back as a special.
To make the burger, pho is first cooked normally, infusing the beef with the herbs and spice of traditional pho, then fries the noodles and shapes them into a bun. The meal comes with the traditional pho sauces and garnishes, and a small bowl of standard pho. It is a far lighter take on the traditionally hefty hamburger, and can be enjoyed at all times of the day, just like pho itself.