Pho with roasted duck noodles? The street food variations in the capital know no bounds. Words by Huyen Tran. Photos by Julie Vola
Pho vit quay may sound a bit strange to some people and could be said to be a variation of Hanoi’s traditional and signature pho bo and pho ga. The dish uses similar ingredients for the broth, yet the main ingredient — the duck, replacing beef or chicken — really does bring a different taste and a different mood to the dish.
There are not many eateries in town offering pho vit quay — one that features this very tasty dish is Vit Ngoc Phat 96 Lo Duc. Opened five years ago and claimed to be the first eatery to offer this new type of pho in Hanoi, the restaurant attracts a lot of people both for its pho and its wide variety of duck dishes. According to the owner, this pho has its origins in Vietnam’s northern province of Lang Son and its taste reflects Lang Son’s signature style of roasting the duck with a local herb called la moc mat.
“Regarding the meat, it all begins with a perfect stuffing mixture made of finely chopped onion, garlic, pepper, cardamom, anise and la moc mat,” the restaurant’s chef says.
The duck is marinated in the seasoning mixture for at least one hour to make sure the seasoning can seep into the meat. This also helps kill bad odours as well as produce glossy, mouth-watering duck skin when roasted over coals.
“Cooked whole then served finely carved into pieces, the duck meat is both juicy and tender,” the chef says.
The chef added that duck to be used for pho is cooked slightly less than duck used for dishes that will be immediately served, as it undergoes further cooking when placed in the boiling broth.
In The Simmer Time
The pho vit quay broth is another element that bring a real difference in taste compared to traditional pho, as duck ribs and necks are simmered in a big pot to produce the sweet and tasty broth for the pho.
First comes a bunch of noodles, a few slices of duck meat, then a bowl of broth and a few kinds of herbs and very fresh onion on top. All of these make up a tempting bowl of pho.
As recommended by the chef, take a spoon of fatty juice extracted from the stuffed stomach of the duck when roasted. Next, try a piece of Vietnamese-styled chilled marinated bamboo shoots, which definitely spices up the broth and adds to the duck taste.
Besides pho vit quay, the restaurant offers a wide range of duck dishes, among which vit ap chao or fried duck stewed in a savoury sweet sauce is another of its signature dishes.
For someone who loves all things duck, the Quan Vit 29 restaurant chain is another awesome spot to taste duck that is meaty and delicious, and the chance to taste a pho vit quay sibling — bun vit tron or vermicelli with duck. Both of these restaurants also offer a delicious whole duck takeaway for eating at home.
Vit Ngoc Phat is located at 96 Lo Duc, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi near the crossroads with Nguyen Cong Tru. Pho vit quay is VND30,000 per bowl. The eatery is open from 6am to 2pm for breakfast and lunch, and from 4pm to 9pm for dinner. The Quan Vit 29 chain has a number of outlets, one of which is located downtown at 24 Nguyen Huu Huan, Hoan Kiem. Bun vit tron costs VND30,000 a bowl