Pho Zaap is a renowned neighborhood restaurant that sells one thing and one thing only: Pho (pronounced ‘fur’), the Vietnamese name for rice noodles. These soft, slippery noodles are served in a light, steaming broth with pork or beef and garnished with chopped spring onion. There are a range of condiments to further enhance the flavor of your soup if you want to add a little spice or perhaps some fish sauce.
Accompanying the noodle soup is a plate of fresh herbs and vegetables. Whatever is fresh and in season is piled high on a side plate, although popular ingredients include lime, mint, basil and green beans. This is served with a delicious peanut-flavoured dipping sauce.
The shop itself is a little rough around the edges and service is also lackluster, but the quality of their noodles, soup and dipping sauce is enough to keep customers – both locals and tourists – coming back for more. Without fanfare, you are asked to choose between “Small, Large or Jumbo”, and a few moments later, a fresh, steaming bowl of noodles is brought to your table. The Small serving is still an adequate meal for most, and the Jumbo will keep the hungriest of customers full for hours. A large jug of water is provided on each table for free and is clean to drink, but they also stock the usual range of pop sodas.
Pho Zaap is easy to find, just around the corner from That Dam stupa. If you find the stupa, head away from the river and you can’t fail to see a shiny, modern Pho Zaap logo dangling incongruously in front of a corrugated metal roof. The restaurant opens early, catering to the breakfast and lunch crowd and usually closes mid-afternoon. It is recommended to visit before 15:00 to be sure they are still open. It is also worth remembering that 8:00-9:00 and 12:00-13:00 is when the local masses come for their breakfast and lunch respectively.
Despite being an originally Vietnamese meal, pho noodles have found favour with Laotians, so much so that they are probably the most eaten lunch-time meal in Vientiane. Practically every street in the capital will have at least one stall cooking up bowl after steaming bowl of this simple, but wholesome meal. Pho Zaap is a great choice to sample authentic, everyday Laotian food for a bargain basement price, where you can be assured that ingredients are fresh and delicious.
Pho Zap Restaurant
- Opening Hours: 6:00-16:00
- Address: Rue Phai Nam, Vientiane
- Price Range: 17,000Kip/$US2 Large -20,000Kip/$US2.5 Jumbo - 25,000Kip/$US3