01.10.2021, 15:32

Pho brings taste of joy to COVID-19 patients, frontliners in Ho Chi Minh City

Thousands of bowls of pho (Vietnamese beef noodle soup) were served to COVID-19 patients and medical workers at a number of hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City this week in celebration of this year’s Day of Pho.

Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, the organizer of Day of Pho, put together the 'Xe Pho Yeu Thuong' (Loving Rides of Pho) initiative to boost the spirits of those battling COVID-19 head-on at Le Van Thinh Hospital, COVID-19 Field Hospital No. 3, and other field hospitals set up at dormitories run by the Ho Chi Minh City Industry and Trade College and the Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology and Education in Thu Duc City. 

Day of Pho is an annual event held by Tuoi Tre in celebration of the iconic Vietnamese dish now winning over the hearts and stomachs of foodies worldwide.

From September 28 to 30, restaurants which won the Tuoi Tre 2019 and 2020 People’s Choice awards for serving great pho, as well as chefs honored with Tuoi Tre’s 2019 and 2020 'Hoa Hoi Vang' (Golden Star Anise) award, prepared 5,000 bowls of pho for the 'Xe Pho Yeu Thuong' initiative.

Chefs in Ho Chi Minh City prepare 'pho' for 'Xe Pho Yeu Thuong,' a project run by Tuoi Tre newspaper to serve thousands of bowls of pho to frontline medical workers and COVID-19 patients in the city.

Nguyen Xuan Chinh, owner of Pho Phu Gia, was one of these chefs.

“I wanted to serve great pho to the medical workers, so I came early to prepare tables, chairs, a stove, and a cooking pot,” Chinh explained as he set up his chef’s station at Le Van Thinh Hospital early on Wednesday morning.

“I want everything here to feel the same as it does at my restaurant so that all of the [medical workers] can have a great experience."

According to Chinh, sourcing ingredients had been difficult since the citywide ‘stay-at-home’ order took effect several weeks ago, but lowering food quality standards was not an option. In fact, the extra effort added flavor. 

“[My pho] is even more delicious because of the love for these medical workers that we put into each bowl,” Chinh said.




Nguyen Xuan Chinh, owner of Pho Phu Gia, serves a bowl of 'pho' to a medical worker at Le Van Thinh Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City’s Thu Duc City as part of 'Xe Pho Yeu Thuong' (Loving Rides of Pho) on September 29, 2021. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Nguyen Tieu Bich Tran Tran, owner of Pho Cao Thang, shared Chinh’s excitement to honor Ho Chi Minh City’s frontline medical workers.

In just 30 minutes, most of the 350 bowls of pho she had prepared made their way to staff at Le Van Thinh Hospital.




350 bowls of Pho Cao Thang are ready to serve at Le Van Thinh Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City’s Thu Duc City as part 'Xe Pho Yeu Thuong' (Loving Rides of Pho) on September 29, 2021. Photo: Tuoi Tre

“A great tasting bowl of pho balances blanched spring onions with the soft pho noodles and tender beef,” said Dr. Tran Van Khanh, director of Le Van Thinh Hospital.

“These bowls of pho have added the taste of love toward the medical workers, janitors, soldiers, and security guards who help keep us safe from the virus.

“They are a show of the love and unity we need to overcome hardship and move forward toward a better future."




Doctor Tran Van Khanh, director of Le Van Thinh Hospital, enjoys a bowl of 'pho' from 'Xe Pho Yeu Thuong' (Loving Rides of Pho) on September 28, 2021. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Dr. Khanh’s appreciation for 'Xe Pho Yeu Thuong' was not one sided. The participating restaurants were equally thankful for the opportunity to take part in the initiative.

“It’s my honor to cook for the medical workers,” Nguyen Thi Khanh Thuy, owner of Pho Am, told Tuoi Tre while preparing a massive pot of pho in a dormitory at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology and Education on Wednesday.

“A while ago I planned to cook rice and pho for local field hospitals, but the pandemic became too severe and I just didn’t have enough staff,” Thuy, who won the 2020 Golden Star Anise contest, explained.

“So I immediately agreed when I was invited to participate in this project.”




Nguyen Thi Khanh Thuy, owner of Pho Am, prepares her 'pho' at the dormitory owned by the Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology and Education on September 29, 2021. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Joy and motivation

“The pho tastes so good,” Dr. Nguyen Thi Thuy Dung said while enjoying a bowl at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology and Education dormitory.

“Thank you to Tuoi Tre and the sponsors who brought us this delicious meal. 

“It’s been two months since I last had a bowl of pho. This meal is really motivating for me.”

Dr. Cao Thanh Nguyen shared Dung’s excitement.

“Our kitchen [at the hospital] provides us with good food, but it’s mostly rice and can sometimes get a little boring. Pho really helps us boost our spirits,” Nguyen said.




Dr. Cao Thanh Nguyen enjoys his 'pho' while monitoring patients through a screen at a dormitory owned by the Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology and Education on September 29, 2021. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Similarly, Huynh Thi Bich Lieu and her family of six, all COVID-19 patients from Thu Duc City, were excited for the opportunity to enjoy pho.

Mai Van Phuoc, a 30-year-old COVID-19 patient, also relished his pho, despite having lost his senses of smell and taste.

“I have no idea how my pho tasted, but sweating after eating the hot soup made me feel better,'' Phuoc said.

“Thank you to the medical workers, Tuoi Tre, and the pho restaurants which brought such a great meal."




Nen, a janitor at Le Van Thinh Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City’s Thu Duc City, enjoys a bowl of 'pho' served as part of 'Xe Pho Yeu Thuong' (Loving Rides of Pho) launched by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on September 29, 2021. Photo: Tuoi Tre



Staff unload hundreds of bowls of 'pho' to serve at a dormitory owned by the Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology and Education on September 29, 2021. Photo: Tuoi Tre



Pharmacist Nguyen Thi Khanh An enjoys 'pho' with her colleague at a dormitory owned by the Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology and Education on September 29, 2021. Photo: Tuoi Tre



Volunteers carry 'pho' to COVID-19 patients at a dormitory owned by the Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology and Education on September 29, 2021. Photo: Tuoi Tre

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