Is pho ever served ice cold similar to that of Korean mul-naengmyeon?

If so, does it have a special name?

  • Good question... Google was a surprising let down here.
    – Jason C
    Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 21:54
  • It looks like the Korean dish dates back to the mid 1800s in northern Korea, which is probably an easier place to make cold things than Vietnam. (Doesn't tell you whether something similar developed in Vietnam eventually, though.)
    – Cascabel
    Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 22:20
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    Isn't a lot of the meat in pho cooked directly in the broth? As in, it's raw when it's in the kitchen and cooked when it gets to you?
    – Catija
    Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 22:24
  • @Catija : I've had pho with cooked meat in it (roast beef & meatballs), but I don't know if that was traditional, as it was in the US. What I'd be unsure of is how much bones and cartilidge were used in the broth -- too much, and when chilled it becomes a jelly.
    – Joe
    Commented Mar 24, 2017 at 13:14
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    @Catija Joe I had sliced poached or simmered beef (looks like roast beef), meatballs and medium cooked beef slices in pho as well. The beef isn't put in a raw state into the bowl with the noodles but is quickly "blanched" / poached in the almost boiling broth and is then put into the bowl. Commented Mar 24, 2017 at 16:43

3 Answers 3


A (somewhat south) Vietnamese not currently in Vietnam chiming in ^^ :

Apart from some exceptions (like cà phê sữa đá) I have the impression that there are no traditional ice-cold Vietnamese dishes whatsoever (I'd even dare to say that almost all desserts are eaten warm or at least at "room temperature" at 36°C / 96°F). Maybe it's just due to the non-availability of ice and constant power outrages that lead to cozy 20°C / 68°F in the freezer. What I've also observed is my Vietnamese relatives in Vietnam always want to have their tender herbs / lettuce / mung bean sprouts blanched and served immediately. The reasons are omnipresent nasty pathogens.

(Don't ask me how they eat their bún chả or bánh xèo with lettuce without getting belly-ache. Perhaps it's all about mitigating risk but not completely avoiding it at all costs.)

To answer the question: Probably no. At least not traditional phở.

  • Ching Chong, I'm a little confused what you meant about eating bánh xèo with lettuce and not getting sick. I have a Cambodian friend who introduced me to Vietnamese cooking. Both of us have make and have eaten bánh xèo with lettuce and various raw herbs often and never gotten ill. Or are you referring to certain agricultural practices in Vietnam?
    – Jude
    Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 0:55
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    @Jude Yep. It's not about lettuce and raw herbs per se but more about the pathogens that are endemic in south east asia (or places with poor hygienic standards in general). Imagine cross contamination plus food sitting in the worst part of the danger zone. Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 1:35
  • All the stories I hear about garden plants fertilized with 'night soil' in certain regions would make me very nervous about eating raw foods (although I have no idea how true they are). I'm sure people living there have a good degree of immunity to many things that would sicken us in the germophobic western world.
    – Jude
    Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 1:44
  • AFAIK night soil isn't necessarily the culprit (composted night soil is relatively harmless, says wikipedia). I grew up in a western country and had always to deal with unpleasant bowel movements if I wasn't careful enough on vacation in far-east - even without food grown on night soil. My parents on the other hand - no problem. Danger zone? Oh, you mean a mine field? 2/4 hour rule? Pffft. Meat sitting in the glaring sun at 36°C in the shade, unpackaged? No problem. And hepatitis A everywhere. (Almost) everyone in SE Asia has hep A antibodies. Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 3:36
  • So night soil isn't ever used fresh but always composted first? Scary about hep A too! Hygiene in some countries can be quite surprising to those raised in most of North America and Europe. Friends who stayed in a certain Central American country for a few months told me about their first visit to a market. They saw something dark hanging in one stall. Curious what it was since they went to buy foodstuffs, they approached. It was meat covered in flies. The stall owner would wave off the flies before cutting off a chunk. Needless to say, my friends avoided eating meat while they were there.
    – Jude
    Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 8:43

You could do it, but you would need to clarify the broth or it would have a somewhat impalpable fatty chew to it. And by clarifying a finished broth, you would alter the taste a bit more than discretely.

That does not make it impossible, you will just need to change the order of your stock(s). Start with any fatty components, clarify the broth, add the non-fatty stuff, simmer as usual, cool then skim any fat remaining.

Otherwise you are likely to get a greasy-ish texture, which you probably don't want in a cold soup. You can also just skim thoroughly before serving but if the stock has more than a small bit of fat in it, well...


I'm not sure how authentic it is, but I was able to find an often repeated dish referred to as Cold Soba Noodles with Vietnamese Pork that is in a way more like mul-naengmyeon than Pho because it's made with buckwheat noodles.

Here's the list of ingredients from one example recipe of the Vietnamese dish from Cooking Light on My Recipes:

3 tablespoons chopped green onions, divided

2 tablespoons dark sesame oil, divided

4 teaspoons fish sauce, divided

1 tablespoon reduced-sodium tamari

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 pound boneless pork cutlets, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch-thick strips

8 ounces uncooked organic soba noodles

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1 teaspoon chile paste with garlic (such as sambal oelek)

3 cups chopped napa (Chinese) cabbage

1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper

Cooking spray

Here's the picture from that recipe:

Cold Soba Noodles with Vietnamese Pork

For comparison, here's the list of ingredients from a recipe for mul-naengmyeon that I'm happy to plug because the author is a favorite vlogger of mine, Maangchi's mul-naengmyeon:

10 ounces (280 grams) dried naengmyeon (buckwheat) noodles

2 packets of liquid or powdered concentrated broth that comes with the package of naengmyeon noodles

2 packets of mustard oil that comes with the package of naengmyeon noodles.

½ English cucumber, cut into thin strips

1 Korean pear (or 2 bosc pears)

½ teaspoon salt

1½ teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon white or apple cider vinegar

1 hard-boiled egg, cut in halves

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, ground

ice cubes

Here's her video of that recipe

And the thumbnail from that video:


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