Prague – what an international place to be! With a big expats community, meeting people from around the world, including those who are travelling and visiting one of the most beautiful and historical places in Europe, or even those who have decided to live here and settle down, experiencing different cultures, exploring new countries thru their natives or tasting the world thru the food… we have it all. It’s no problem in Prague – no problem at all.
Here you can find a huge community of Vietnamese people. You can also find their local cultural center in one of the Prague neighborhoods called Sapa. Sapa is mini-Vietnam: full of shops with Vietnamese food, stands or stores with clothes, karaoke bars and small Vietnamese bistros with traditional Vietnamese dishes. Sapa is a great place to eat Vietnamese food and try out traditional Vietnamese cuisine, but I sought out the best bistros in the center of the city as well, because Sapa is quite far away and not easily reached by bus.
Today, I’m talking about a Vietnamese bistro called Pho Viet Huong in Karlín. Yes, the best Prague neighborhood for food explorers again! Are you looking for some authentic Vietnamese culture? This is the best place! Why? Because of their amazing food of course! Japan has ramen – Japanese broth with ramen noodles and different vegetables or eggs, etc. In the Czech Republic, we have vývar (chicken or beef) with vegetables and our typical noodles, and Vietnam has their typical soup called Pho. They serve it with different meats and with broth from those types of meat as well – no dogs are harmed, so don’t worry. Once I heard a man talking to another about his worries of having dog meat in Vietnam, and the Vietnamese people told him that dog is too expensive. So they definitely won’t give him any dog. Pho soup is named for the meat used for the broth, bits of which are also used in the soup. Pho Bo is a beef soup, while Pho Ga is chicken soup.
However, I didn’t try their Pho because I love their Bun Bo Nam Bo so much, and I just can’t force myself to try something different! I absolutely recommend to be prepared for a line and a bit of waiting, as there will undoubtedly be many people there – it is always full! In my opinion, determining the most authentic and best restaurant or bistro of any cuisine is really easy: look around. Can you see any natives there? Ding, ding! If you can find natives there, it means that they like it as well, so it has to be pretty authentic. If you look around in this restaurant, you will see many foreigners (maybe they found great reviews on the internet), Vietnamese people (which means the bistro is good), and many people from nearby offices – even some wearing suits. To me, the older version of the bistro before the recent remodeling looked authentic, with a slightly “dirty” feel that you might expect from any street bistro in Hanoi, for instance, so it was a bit surprising to find any people in suits coming and eating here. However, the food eliminated any doubts as to why.
Don’t get me wrong – the newly remodeled bistro is still authentic when it comes to food; it is just more cozy and better looking. As I said, try out their Bun Bo Nam Bo: fried beef with vegetables, rice noodles and special sauce. The best meal ever! The beef is a bit crunchy on the top as it is fried but so juicy inside and full of beef taste, with lots of flavor but never chewy (a problem I have sometimes have found in other bistros around Prague). The sauce that you find under the noodles is perfectly combined with the fish sauce, lime, water and a few other ingredients — the rest is up to the recipe of the bistro, and each bistro has its own secret ingredient. Together with those rice noodles and beef meat, this dish will take you to food heaven. You will also get some extra lime and chilies; I recommend to put them in. Just be careful with the chilies. I love spicy food, but do you? Are you brave enough to put everything in?
If you are looking for a starter then their summer rolls with shrimp are… OK, I’m not saying how those taste because you have to try them out! They are freshly made with lettuce, shrimps, rice noodles, carrots, and coriander. All of it wrapped perfectly in the shape of a roll, staying on your plate next to each other and screaming out to be eaten. You can make them even more perfect with the sauce they provide with them. I usually put some sriracha in as well – you can try it or not, but just make sure you go there and try something out! Enjoy!