Pho at Vietnam Embassy canteen – New Delhi

For the last two years, I am addicted to Pho. As I have written in the past, my first time with Pho was unspectacular. But 45 days in Indonesia is when I fell in love with Pho and so much so that we went to Vietnam soon after; to eat Pho. We are foodies and we proudly proclaim that we have had Pho in Vietnam, Pasta in Italy and Vodka in Russia. Two weeks ago, while driving to work, I noticed Conrad, Pune advertise a Vietnamese food festival with a chef from Da Nang in Pune for the same. I was certain that if there is anything that must be on the list, it must be the Pho and off we went to Conrad for a dinner date.

While the Pho was tasty, it wasn’t quite authentic. Where does one get a good Pho in India then? Well the answer was Vietnamese Embassy in New Delhi. I had known about this place for a while. The trips to Delhi – have a sole agenda of eating good food and while the past trips have been over the weekend, this time it had to start on a Friday. Why? The Vietnamese embassy canteen is open for commoners on Fridays between 1130 to 1430 hours! End of the year frenzy – to redeem all credit card points, maintain status for Hotel loyalty for another year and more!

For two days leading up to the travel dates, all I could think and dream about was Pho, Pho and more Pho! Our Delhi visits are always full of local hopping by the efficient Delhi metro. As we touched down to a pleasant 16 degree Celsius, we were on-time for visiting the embassy canteen. A quick dash to the hotel and then calling for Uber – since there aren’t any metro stations closer to Diplomatic Enclave where the Vietnamese embassy is located.

Vietnamese embassy is well marked on Google maps but a rick or a car will drop you right there. Walk in the lane adjacent to the embassy – which had old vehicles lined up, and then turn right. The non-descript compound wall leads you to a door which is closed but has Vietnamese Embassy Canteen written on it along with a circular which read that starting November, the canteen will be open on Wednesdays and Fridays. Good News!

For a few second, we wondered if we should open the door or not and decided to open it since it was 15 minutes past 1130. We shouldn’t have thought as much; the canteen was full of people with all tables occupied. Luckily, there is a section which opens inside the embassy premises and had 3 tables where we made ourselves comfortable.

For the un-initiated, Pho is a Vietnamese dish comprising of broth, noodles, herbs and meat (usually Beef). While in Vietnam, we saw how people from the north and south had different opinions about the taste of Pho. Vietnamese expats who went the world over during the Vietnam war took Pho with them, with maximum in France and USA.

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At the Vietnamese embassy canteen, the menu is limited, and one must tick the quantity and hand it over. The service isn’t very great. We were left wondering on how the order is dished out since we saw a lot of patrons who came later than us being served before us. But the taste more than made up for the waiting time. We ordered two Chicken Pho and one each of Vietnamese Rolls and Vietnamese Spring Roll. The later was passable but what really made us think of our meals in Vietnam was the Chicken Pho and Vietnamese Rolls. The authenticity of the place can be gauged from the accompaniments. In this case, a tray was neatly laid out with chopsticks, cutlery, sriracha Sause, soya Sause and another tangy garlic Sause.

As the order is delivered to your table, you make the payment. If you want something else, then the same drill is to be repeated. Pho in front of us, we knew this drill very well. Mix the sauces, squeeze the lemon, mix it well and dig it in. The Vietnamese rolls – nearly transparent and translucent added to the flavors of Pho. One of the best meals I have had in recent times and on the menu if I return to Delhi on a Friday!

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If you want to try Pho, it is worth traveling to New Delhi and try this than try any of the local variants. I feel cheated every time I have ordered a Pho and found it to be sub-standard or at times, not even close to how a Pho tastes.

A question remained lingering in our minds as we left. How does Vietnamese embassy do business in New Delhi? No GST, no taxes, no registration number, no bill. Do let us know if you know an answer to this!

When to Visit: Wednesdays or Fridays, from 1130 to 1430 hours. 
Go Early, we recommend
What to eat: Pho
Where: Vietnamese embassy canteen. Lane adjacent to Vietnamese embassy
How to reach: A rick or a cab to 20, Kautilya marg.
Lok Kalyan Marg station on Yellow line is the nearest metro station

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