A visit to Vietnam wouldn’t be complete without tucking into a bowl of the country’s unofficial national dish: pho.
Just ask former US President Bill Clinton, who in late 2000 became the first US president since the end of the Vietnam War to stop in for a bowl of the Vietnamese noodle soup.
To be fair, Clinton did not fly all the way to Ho Chi Minh City just for a bowl of the famous soup, which is usually made with beef or chicken, rice noodles, basil, lime and bean sprouts.
But he might as well have, according to Pho 2000, the restaurant he dined at on his presidential visit.
Located opposite Ben Thanh Market, this outlet of a popular Vietnamese chain-restaurant is justifiably proud of having served the 41st president of the United States of America.
The intervening years were not kind to Teflon Bill – this was sometime before the Lewinski scandal, of course – but Pho 2000 still loves him. A large plaque rests on the wall, featuring a yellowed-photograph of the restaurant’s most famous customer.
Backpackers and US presidents rarely roll in the same circles, which was why it was pleasing to grab a bowl of pho at Pho 2000. The service was quick and the broth was just how I like it: hot and tasty.
It’s worth noting that the cheeky bastards did charge me extra for using a sanitary napkin and you will find a cheaper bowl of soup on the street.
Having said that, I’d dread to think what kind of set-back it would have meant for relations between the two countries had the president contracted salmonella from a dodgy street stall.