Pho Science: Beijing's Best Vietnamese Restaurants

Pho Science: Beijing's Best Vietnamese Restaurants
By Fred Dintenfass ,

To frequent eaters of Chinese food – particularly the heavy, starchy northern variety – the fresh, distinct flavors of Vietnamese cuisine offer a welcome respite from thick sauces and the same old spices. Vietnamese food offers a bright mix of sweet, sour, spicy and salty; rich broths, crunchy fresh fruit and vegetables and ample use of basil and mint. Unfortunately, Beijing lags behind Shanghai and many major Western cities in both quantity and quality when it comes to Vietnamese restaurants. Though China has an ethnically Vietnamese minority, known as the Gin or Jingzu, Vietnamese cuisine in the capital still has a ways to go. Much of the Vietnamese food eaten outside of Vietnam originated in the country’s northern regions. The cuisine of Southern Vietnam was influenced culinarily by Chinese immigrants but, paradoxically, actually employs more herbs than the northern cuisine does. There’s a lot of math and pho-science that goes into Vietnamese food: there are the five spices and their corresponding body parts, five types of nutrients, five colors and the five senses that all need to be properly addressed and appealed to. However, eating Vietnamese requires none of this specialized knowledge. Most Vietnamese restaurants in Beijing offer the similar sets of Northern Vietnamese dishes – pho, spring rolls, papaya salads, seafood and noodle dishes; brains, balut and tiet canh are hard to find which, depending on how you adventurous of an eater you are, is not necessarily a bad thing. Below are some of Beijing’s best Vietnamese restaurants grouped by area.

Drum and Bell Towers 鼓楼 Gulou
Some of Beijing’s best Vietnamese restaurants are clustered around the Drum and Bell towers and neighboring Houhai. Le Little Saigon is among Beijing’s most popular Vietnamese restaurants. Their fare is mix of Vietnamese classics like spring rolls, pho and pork nems – grilled pork rolls – as well as French stewed lamb and chicken terrine. During summertime, the roof is a great place to while away an afternoon. Pho Restaurant, like its name, is simple and direct. It’s small and the decor is muted – there is a slightly bizarre selection of movie posters on the wall – but the food is good and the Vietnamese coffee is only 12 RMB hot or cold. It’s conveniently located right across from Nanluoguxiang. A few blocks away but on the other end of the spectrum is Nuage. The view over Houhai and the wood and silk design fits well with the rickshaw seats. The food is pricey but if you skip the appetizers – some cost as much as the entrees – it’s not bad.

Pho Restaurant 西贡View In Map
Add: 200 Gulou Dongdajie, Dongcheng District, Beijing
地址: 北京市东城区鼓楼东大街200号
Tel: 010 6404 4578
Opening hours: 11:00-23:00
Price: 100-200 RMB per couple

Le Little Saigon 西贡在巴黎View In Map
Add: 141 Jiu Gulou Dajie Yi, Xicheng District, Beijing
地址: 北京市西城区旧鼓楼大街乙141号
Tel: 010 6401 8465
Opening hours: 11:30- till late
Price: 200-300 RMB per couple

Nuage 庆云楼View In Map
Add: 22 Qianhai Lake East Bank, Xicheng District, Beijing
地址: 北京市西城区前海东沿22号
Tel: 010 6401 9581
Opening hours: 11:00-14:00, 17:30-22:30
Price: 300-400 RMB per couple

Guomao and Jianguomen 国贸、建国门
Pho Lemon is a Hong Kong chain that delivers on consistency – a quality often missing in Beijing’s foreign restaurants. The quality renditions of classic Vietnamese dishes are served up in big portions and the service is attentive. Located in the basement of the Prosper Center beside the food court, Mekong Riverside Cuisine does a great job with staples but excels on deserts. Despite neighboring a food court, the restaurant serves up fine dining on the atmosphere and service fronts as well. Pho88 may be much to look at – though the second floor is much nicer than the first – but the food is good and comparatively cheap: noodles bowls are only 18 RMB.

Pho Lemon 法拉满越南牛肉粉View In Map
Add: Shop 106, Block 4, China Central Place (Huamao), 89 Jianguo Lu, Chaoyang District, Beijing
地址: 北京市朝阳区建国路89号华贸中心4号楼106
Tel: 010 6598 1870
Opening hours: 11:00-23:00
Price: 300-400 RMB per couple

Mekong Riverside Cuisine 湄公河畔法式越南餐厅View In Map
Add: B1 Level, Prosper Center, 5 Guanghua Lu, Chaoyang District, Beijing
地址: 北京市朝阳区光华路5号院世纪财富中心B1层
Tel: 010 6562 8555
Opening hours: 11:00-14:00, 17:00-22:00

Pho88 越南河粉View In Map
Add: Wanda Plaza East 15-1-30, 93Jianguo Lu, Chaoyang District, Beijing (near Dawang Bridge, opposite SOHO Modern City)
地址: 北京市朝阳区建国路93号 万达广场东区15-1-30 (大望桥附近、SOHO现代城对面)
Tel: 010 5820 8180
Price: 100-200 RMB per couple

Sanlitun 三里屯
The Village is quickly sprouting new restaurants and Va Va Voom is one of them. The decor is perhaps overly modern – it feels a bit like a trendy cafeteria – and both food and service are still a bit inconsistent at this restaurant (there is also a dearth of vegetarian options), but for a new restaurant it shows a lot of promise. Luga’s Pho Pho, above Luga’s, is another installment in the Luga’s empire. The spring rolls are excellent and they offer some good deals, but the curry lacks flavor and the servers desperately need training. Though new to Sanlitun, Muse has been serving French-influenced Vietnamese cuisine in Beijing for some time now at their Guomao and Chaoyang locations. The food isn’t completely Vietnamese – there’s some French and Indochinese fusion – but it’s good and so is the service. Drinks including Vietnamese coffee and smoothies are excellent. Be sure to save room for desert.

Va Va Voom 越时代View In Map
Add: 19 Sanlitun Lu, The Village Sanlitun, Unit S4-32, 3/F, Tower 4, Chaoyang District, Beijing
地址: 北京市朝阳区三里屯路19号 The Village 4号楼,3层 S4-32单元
Tel: 010 6416 3732
Opening hours: 10:00 – 24:00
Price: 100-200 RMB per couple

Luga's Pho Pho View In Map
Add: 41 Sanlitun Beijie (behind The Village, above Luga’s), Sanlitun, Chaoyang District, Beijing
地址: 北京市朝阳区三里屯北街41号
Tel: 010 6413 2786
Opening hours: 12:00-02:00
Price: 150 RMB per couple

Muse 妙巴黎越南小吃View In Map
Add: 1/F Tongli Studios, No. 43 Sanlitun Bei Lu
地址: 北京市朝阳区三里屯北街43号同里楼1层
Tel: 010 6415 6388
Opening hours: 11:00-23:00
Price: 200 RMB per couple

Warning:The use of any news and articles published on without written permission from constitutes copyright infringement, and legal action can be taken.


All comments are subject to moderation by staff. Because we wish to encourage healthy and productive dialogue we ask that all comments remain polite, free of profanity or name calling, and relevant to the original post and subsequent discussion. Comments will not be deleted because of the viewpoints they express, only if the mode of expression itself is inappropriate.