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Dec 15, 2023 / 11:02

Pho wins over South African gourmets

Many South Africans, members of the diplomatic corps and Vietnamese expatriates have enjoyed and learned about Pho and Vietnamese cuisine.

A Vietnamese Pho tasting event was recently organized at the Hazel Food Market in Pretoria, the capital city of South Africa, to celebrate Vietnamese Pho Day, which falls on December 12, reported the Vietnam News Agency.

 South Africans and foreigners indulge in pho and Vietnamese cuisine. Photo: VNA 

This was the first Vietnamese Pho Day celebration in the Rainbow Nation, one of the initiatives of the Vietnamese Embassy in South Africa to spread the quintessence of Vietnamese cuisine worldwide.

According to the Vietnamese Ambassador to South Africa, Hoang Sy Cuong, the Vietnamese Pho Day in South Africa was also the last in a series of events organized to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries (December 22, 1993 - December 22, 2023).

Despite the scorching summer afternoon in the southern hemisphere, many South Africans, members of the diplomatic corps in this country, and Vietnamese expatriates gathered at the booth that showcased pho and Vietnamese cuisine.

 Pho ga or chicken noodle. Photo: Khanh Toan

Guests were able to choose between traditional Vietnamese pho bo or beef noodle soup, and pho ga or chicken noodle soup, while Vietnamese embassy officials and staff demonstrated the ingredients and proper way to cook and enjoy the famous Vietnamese pho. Diners were excited to learn how to select ingredients, cook the broth, and prepare side dishes.

In addition to pho, South Africans and expats also had the opportunity to enjoy traditional fried spring rolls and Vietnamese coffee. A range of branded Vietnamese products, such as rice, coffee, rice paper and confectionery, were also on display at the event.

About 500 servings of pho bo and pho ga, 1,500 fried spring rolls, and ready-to-drink Vietnamese coffee were served for free at the event.

Deeply immersed in the Vietnamese ambiance, Stoffel Van Zyl, a South African elder, couldn't help but try pho bo and pho ga and both types of spring rolls. He also didn't forget to enjoy a Vietnamese coffee to complete a well-rounded meal.

  South African dinners show their interest in pho - a national Vietnamese specialty. Photo: VNA

"This is the first time I've tried Vietnamese food. The spring rolls are very tasty. But I must say that the pho is just great. The only problem I have is that I don't know how to use chopsticks to enjoy this dish like many people around me. Thank you for introducing this wonderful dish to South Africa," Stoffel said.

He added that enjoying Vietnamese food at the event made him look forward to traveling to Vietnam one day. "I have been watching videos about your country on YouTube and found it to be a beautiful country that I want to visit. And today has only solidified that intention of mine."

Similarly, Zandile Mthimunye, a South African woman who came to the event with her husband and three daughters, expressed her enthusiasm for Vietnamese food after tasting a few servings.

"Today, my whole family came to this market and enjoyed Vietnamese food here. Vietnamese pho and spring rolls taste very good. And what I like is that my whole family came together to enjoy food from a faraway country. My children were very impressed with the pho and loved the broth. Thanks to this event, we got to know Vietnamese cuisine," said Zandile.

 A bowl of Ly Quoc Su beef noodles. Photo: Bich Hoi

Wiping away drops of sweat after expertly enjoying a bowl of Vietnamese pho with chopsticks, Lawrence Shields - another South African - shared his experience: "There have been many South Africans who have traveled to Vietnam and fallen in love with Vietnamese food. But as you can see, there aren't many Vietnamese restaurants here. Even if you find a few Vietnamese restaurants, the dishes don't have the authentic taste. Sometimes, you want to order pho, but it is served with a thick and murky broth, not at all clear and attractive like this. Even though it's extremely hot today, I couldn't refuse a bowl of excellent pho with such an authentic taste.

According to Ambassador Hoang Sy Cuong, although this was the first time the event was held in South Africa, it was a great success and left a deep impression on the South African friends and diplomatic corps.

"This is a wonderful event to conclude an impressive and complete year of celebrating the 30th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations. We hope that this will be the beginning of many events to showcase Vietnam in the future, helping South Africans and international friends to better understand our beautiful, friendly, and safe country," the Ambassador affirmed.