Uyen has lived in Hackney since she was a schoolgirl, and has run supperclubs from her house for three years. She has shown Jamie Oliver and the FT how to make pho, using know-how she picked up from her mother, who, in turn refined her own technique over years.

It’s a breakfast dish in Vietnam, invented in Hanoi – the result of cross-pollination between French pot au feu and Vietnamese noodle soup with fresh herbs. Uyen is from Saigon, so this pho has more oomph than the minimal version made by most London Vietnamese, who tend to originate from the north.

Uyen’s traditional pho recipe

You’ll need (for 8-10 bowls)

  • 2 x large  onion – halved and charred
  • 2 thumbs of x ginger – halved and charred
  • 20 x star anise
  • 2tbs mix of fennel seeds. coriander seeds, cassia bark, cinnamon
  • 2 pieces of dried orange peel
  • 2 black cardamon 1 x mooli
  • 1 x carrot
  • 90g rock sugar
  • salt/ pepper
  • 4 x large cuts of ox tail
  • 1kg beef flank
  • 1 x beef bib or bones
  • fish sauce (3 crabs)
  • 1 litre free range chicken stock
  • 5 litres water


  • 1 x fresh ho-fun noodles serves 2-3 or 1 pack x dry rose brand pho noodles
  • Blanched in boiling water or rehydrated.

Meat Optional

  • fillet/ sirloin or rump steak – thinly sliced


  • 1 x lemon/ lime wedge per serving
  • red onion, corriander and spring onion, finely chopped
  • 1

    Start with oxtail, a beef leg bone replete with marrow, and half a rib with meat still on. Bring a large pan of water to the boil, add the meat, then chuck the water away. Clean the pan and starts again – so you get a clear broth.

  • 2

    Char a large onion, first peeling and trimming it so it will stand on its end. Add it to the pot with three thumbs of ginger.

  • 3

    Add the dried spices: cinnamon bark, a handful of star anise, three black cardamom pods (must be the black ones), six pieces of liquorice, 3–4 pieces of Chinese orange peel, and a tablespoon of coriander seeds in muslin.

  • 4

    Add mooli (or daikon radish), carrot and the secret-ingredient – rock sugar. Simmer on a low heat for at least two hours. Three is better, four is best. If you boil it, you’ll get a dark, muddy broth.

  • 5

    When your pho is ready, prepare dried rice noodles, and get your garnishes ready: sawtooth (a delicious herb halfway between Thai basil and coriander), coriander sprigs, lime wedges and fresh-cut chilli.

  • 6

    Add your meat of choice and customise with hoisin sauce, chilli sauce and fish sauce.



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