Pho Pronunciation - How to Order Pho in Vietnamese

Pho Restaurant Open SignUpdated 04-02-14. Per a request from Barb Carter over at the "Tips on Ordering Pho" post, here are audio files to help with your pho ordering in Vietnamese language. The selection is based on a typical pho menu one may find at many Viet restaurants. So drop me a note in the comment if I missed anything and I'll add it.

First a few words about convention.

In Vietnamese, the word "tô" means "bowl." When ordering a bowl of pho tai, for example, a Viet would call a "tô phở tái" or just "tô tái."

If you're already in a pho restaurant, then saying "phở" is redundant and is really not necessary (but optionally okay.)

If you're in a Viet restaurant that also serves pho, then ordering a "tô phở tái' would be more appropriate to make it clear that you want pho and not another dish.

So for those who find saying pho a little challenging, "tô" will solve your problem!

Note: The "t" in "tô" pronounces as a hard t like in French (e.g., Tour de France) or in Spanish (e.g., Latino,) and not like a soft t in English (i.e., tow truck.)

For pho bo or beef pho, as noted in "Tips on Ordering Pho," the seemingly endless pho options on the menu are really permutation and combination of the available meat cuts and types that you can mix and match. The most common options are:

  • bo chin (sliced well-done steak),
  • bo tai (sliced rare steak),
  • nam (flank),
  • ve don (crunchy flank),
  • gau (fatty brisket),
  • gan (tendon),
  • sach (tripe) and
  • bo vien (beef meatballs, normally with tendon).

So without further ado, here is the audio pho menu. As always each has the Southern Viet accent followed by Northern Viet accent.

  1. Tô Đặc Biệt Xe Lửa (pho dac biet xe lua) - special (combo) large size pho
    Click to play     
  2. Pronounce: Tô Đặc Biệt (pho dac biet) - special (combo) regular size pho
    Click to play     
  3. Pronounce: Tô Tái, Nạm, Gầu, Gân, Sách (pho Tai, Nam, Gau, Gan, Sach) - rare steak, flank, fatty brisket, tendon, tripe pho
    Click to play     
  4. Pronounce: Tô Chín, Nạm, Gầu, Gân, Sách (pho Chin, Nam, Gau, Gan, Sach) - well-done steak, flank, fatty brisket, tendon, tripe pho
    Click to play     
  5. Pronounce: Tô Tái, Chín, Gầu, Gân, Sách (pho Tai, Chin, Gau, Gan, Sach) - rare steak, well-done steak, fatty brisket, tendon, tripe pho
    Click to play     
  6. Pronounce: Tô Tái, Chín, Nạm, Gân, Sách (pho Tai, Chin, Nam, Gan, Sach) - rare steak, well-done steak, flank, tendon, tripe pho
    Click to play     
  7. Pronounce: Tô Tái, Nạm, Gân, Sách (pho Tai, Nam, Gan, Sach) - rare steak, flank, tendon, tripe pho
    Click to play     
  8. Pronounce: Tô Tái (pho Tai) - rare steak pho
    Click to play     
  9. Pronounce: Tô Chín (pho Chin) - well-done steak pho
    Click to play     
  10. Pronounce: Tô Tái, Chín (pho Tai, Chin) - rare steak, well-done steak pho
    Click to play     
  11. Pronounce: Tô Tái, Nạm, Gân (pho Tai, Nam, Gan) - rare steak, flank, tendon pho
    Click to play     
  12. Pronounce: Tô Tái, Nạm, Sách (pho Tai, Nam, Sach) - rare steak, flank, tripe pho
    Click to play     
  13. Pronounce: Tô Nạm, Vè Dòn (pho Nam, Ve Don) - flank, crunchy flank pho
    Click to play     
  14. Pronounce: Tô Chín, Nạm, Vè Dòn (pho Chin, Nam, Ve Don) - well-done steak, flank, crunchy flank pho
    Click to play     
  15. Pronounce: Tô Tái, Gầu (pho Tai, Gau) - rare steak, fatty brisket pho
    Click to play     
  16. Pronounce: Tô Tái, Nạm (pho Tai, Nam) - rare steak, flank pho
    Click to play     
  17. Pronounce: Tô Tái, Gân (pho Tai, Gan) - rare steak, tendon pho
    Click to play     
  18. Pronounce: Tô Tái, Sách (pho Tai, Sach) - rare steak, tripe pho
    Click to play     
  19. Pronounce: Tô Bò Viên (Southern)/Tô Phở Bò Viên (Northern) (pho with meatballs) - Viet meatball pho
    Click to play     
  20. Pronounce: Nước béo (fatty broth) - Southern/Northern similar
    Click to play     

20 comments

  1. Pho Fan 11 April, 2010 at 04:44 Reply

    Excellent post, well done for teaching people.

    People now, learn this:

    “Chào em! (to waiter/waitress) Em khỏe không? Cho tôi một tô phở bò tái, với một dĩa giá chín, và một dĩa rau muống xào tỏi và dầu hàu cũng vậy. Cảm ơn!”

  2. Cuong Huynh 11 April, 2010 at 12:07 Reply

    Hi Pho Fan: I would do a full audio for your excellent phrase to order pho and ong choy dishes, but would caution the following 😉
    The word “em” is used to address either a younger person (male or female) or a younger woman (flirtatiously or not.) So be careful if the waiter is an older guy, an older woman, or my aunt ;-P

  3. Marina 4 August, 2010 at 21:38 Reply

    “Nuoc Beo” pronunciation

    I am a pho addict, love this site, really appreciate all the
    information you are posting here.
    Could you please post the sound file with the pronunciation of “Nuoc
    Beo” – just like you have for many other pho components in your post
    “Pho Pronunciation – How to Order Pho in Vietnamese”?

    Thank you so much,
    Marina

  4. lolsuz 2 March, 2011 at 21:33 Reply

    Cuong, thanks so much for this excellent webpage! We live near the Chinatown Center in north Austin, Texas, so our neighborhood is practically swimming in Pho restaurants. We are so lucky! I can’t thank you enough for posting these pronunciations… and you speak slowly and clearly enough for us to wrap our brains and then our tongues around the sounds that are so hard for us. You are awesome!

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