It's hard to find good pho in Seoul, but it turns out Seoul has a kind of pho that's kinda hard to find back in the states. From what I understand, the pho in America is from southern Vietnam. Makes sense. But recently I went to a place that had north Vietnam, specifically Hanoi, style pho.
Located just out of Shinnonhyeon Station exit 4, Tang specializes in bun cha and pho. I've had the bun cha there and it's very good, but this time I just had pho. I believe the main difference between northern and southern style pho is that with the former, you don't really add things on your own. You just eat it as is. It's just noodles, broth, meat, onions, and I think green onions. The meat at Tang was cooked separately, and the broth was cloudier. The noodles are also thicker. It's pretty good actually. The broth has a nice, deep flavor and tastes very clean in spite of its cloudy appearance. Apparently, the chef learned from Pho Thin, which they say is a very famous pho establishment in Hanoi.
Still, given the choice, I would choose the pho I'm familiar with. I like being able to customize it to my tastes. I have a very specific routine when it comes to eating pho, and pho just isn't the same without it.
Even if you feel the pho isn't for you, you should try their bun cha. Amazing pork with veggies and vermicelli in a cool, sweet and tangy broth. Their green fried rice is also excellent. The place is a little pricey though, for the amount you get. The pho was 10,000 won if I remember correctly.
Daniel Gray is a Korean-American Adoptee that returned to Korea in 2005 to rediscover his roots. He is a Korean food expert that has appeared on Bizarre Foods, Parts Unknown with Anthony Bourdain and more. He is the president of Delectable Travels and owns two restaurants: Brew 3.14 and Brew 3.15 in Seoul.