District Bo Ho is the latest entrant to the burgeoning trend of ‘bone broth’ eateries where the crowning glory is pho. This cozy bistro, located strategically on Jianshe Si Malu right next to Oggi, exudes a bohemian vibe with its grayish walls, humble wooden tables, crates of imported Vietnamese beer and an impressive service bar. Filled with steaming pots of soup, garden-fresh herbs, juicy meat brought in daily from a local wet market and handmade rice noodles, it's a theater that warrants sitting on high stools and peering over the counter to see black-aproned chefs hard at work.
The menu is a page long with just a handful of dishes, emphasizing the single-minded mastery of the almighty Vietnamese noodle. It’s the carefully layered beef pho (RMB48) that sets District Bo Ho apart: brisket and meatballs topped with rare sliced Australian ribeye. Rounded off with color and crunch, this pho's soul lies in its deeply woven broth, which is simmered for more than two days. Its entourage of fragrant garnishes – a flower pot of coriander, mint, basil, bean sprouts, citrus wedges and fresh red chilies, plus squeeze bottles of hoi sin, sriracha and fish sauce – is a superb addition.
Crab and tomato noodle soup (RMB58) is the color of a deliquescing sunset, made with plump tomatoes to create a rich yet pleasant level of tanginess. A side dish of young crab shell filled with marinated morsels of willowy crabmeat adds yet more textural complexity.
For those seeking more mellow flavors, try their chicken pho (RMB40). The broth – made from whole free-range birds imported from Qingyuan and boiled for hours – is soothing, with a subtle sharpness that comes from the shredded chicken. To complement the mains, the beautifully served rice rolls (RMB38), accompanied by a mild sweet and sour dipping sauce, is delicate and refreshing, with zests of mango, avocado and shrimp that dance fluidly on your palate.
Ask for District Bo Ho’s secret weapon: their sriracha and mayonnaise dipping sauce, which can elevate simple rolls into something magical. The crunchy pork ears salad (RMB38) with young green mango and herbs may not appeal to everyone, but it is well placed on a menu that promises fresh options as the seasons turn. The dishes pair marvelously with cold beer. Try the Hanoi or Saigon varieties, or a filtered coffee (RMB18) with a touch of condensed milk.
Like its namesake, the electric tram stop in Hanoi that once ruled a transportation network, District Bo Ho has all the trappings of becoming one of those must-visit destinations, due largely to the zeal and ingenuity of their very affable owners – and to those bone broths we’ve been so desperately craving ever since.
Who’s going: Hanoi-esque noodle lovers, comfort foodies
Good for: Steamy tete-a-tete’s over hot broths, fresh nouveau fare
// For address, see listing.