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Battle Of The Soups: Pho vs. Ramen – Which Is Better?

By Rachel Lay - 19 Jul 2016

Best Pho in Brisbane

If there’s one thing we know about Brisbane, it’s that we’re in the midst of a glorious time for pho and ramen—yes, it’s the golden age of Asian soups in old BNE. And while we love both, obviously, because food is the best, we find that many a-lunch time ends in a soup debate over which of these two steamy, slurpy wonders is the superior broth. Since we’re all about hard hitting journalism we’ve decided to have a battle of the soups to decide, once and for all, which soup reigns supreme.

In the blue corner we have Pho, defended by our Brisbane Editor and all round Vietnam enthusiast Phoebe: the clear broth, with soup-er tender beef, rice noodles, and tons the fresh herbs. And, in the red corner, we have ramen, defended by Content Marketer and Japanese fan girl Rachel: umami flavours, bulk noodles, and crispy fried onions. They’re such different dishes, and they’re both delicious, so picking a winner will be, as you can imagine, near impossible.

Which soup will come out on top? Read the debate to find out, and don’t forget to tell us which side you’re on!

Ramen Is King Of Soups

Argued by Rachel Lay

Ramen is, without a doubt, the superior soup. It packs a punch of flavour in the broth that pho struggles to deliver sans the plate of sides (mint, lemon and chilli, we’re looking at you). Ramen isn’t an additions dish—it’s wholly complete when it lands in front of you. Sure, you can add shichimi togarashi if you’re looking for a spice kick, but the broth is only enhanced by its additions, not completed. There’s also a bigger variety of ramen than pho: shoyu, tonkotsu, miso and shio, and that’s not even covering the different types of toppings.

Ramen also has cemented its place in pop culture, it transcends soup. Anime, J-Drama and Miyazaki films would feel a little empty without a steaming bowl of the stuff. Look at any photography of Tokyo and you’ll see flags emblazoned with the katakana “ramen,” it’s so ingrained in our perceptions of Japan, and the Japanese food culture. It’s one of their best exports. Not to mention the saving grace of many a broke student.

On the culture note, we’re so willing to get behind a food that is not only encouraged to be eaten in the slurpiest way possible but is frowned upon to eat it any other way. Plus, ramen can be eaten in a private booth and ordered via a vending machine, so it’s pretty much designed for the mega-hangry, can’t-deal-with-people moments of our lives.

To be clear, I don’t hate pho. Far from it, I’ve slurped it on the streets of Saigon and Hanoi and sought comfort with it on many a cold Brisbane day. But, it’s just no ramen—sorry.

So, while ramen may be less partial to a pho-nominal pun, it is the clear winner: it’s delicious, it’s packed full of flavour, and it’s a cultural icon #winning.

Last, but not least, Ramen is everywhere in Brisbane. So you don’t need to trawl the streets looking for the perfect bowl. Check out Taro’s Ramen, Ramen Champion, Wagaya, Hakataya and all the others in our nifty little round up here.

Pho = Best Broth In Brisbane

Argued by Phoebe Grealy

After living in Hanoi for a year, Phoebe is a bona fide pho-natic and can argue the dominance – not to mention, the correct pronunciation – of the soothing Vietnamese noodle soup for eternity. She says there's a reason why families hand down their secret pho broth recipes for centuries; it's incomparable. Here are 6 reasons why pho is obvs the premier broth in town.

Sick? The answer is pho. Hungover? Pho. It’s cold? Pho. Sure, ramen is great but pho is not just a delicious soup, it’s a healing wonder meal. 

You don’t have to search high and low for a great pho in Brisbane, because our Vietnamese soup game is so strong. We have stellar options at Nom Nom, Red Lotus, Café O Mai and Vietnam House and that’s before we even start on the pho meccas of Darra, Inala and Sunnybank.

Pho can be in a million puns. Pho-nomenal, Un-pho-gettable, Pho-ever, while I’m struggling to think of a ramen pun?

When you eat a pho you don’t just get a soup, you get all the sides to make it exactly to your taste. Chilli, basil, bean sprouts and lemon lift it to the next level. Talk about value-adding.

Pho is perfect with beer, with soda, with tea, and even with shots. And you can eat it for breakfast (as they do in Vietnam), lunch or dinner. #versatile

Anyone can say ramen, but can everyone pronounce pho properly? I don't think so. Pho draws a much more discerning level of diner, which obviously makes pho the superior soup.

Image Credit: Ariana Gillrie

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