Originally Published: 30 AUG 23 22:32 ET
Updated: 30 AUG 23 23:14 ET
By Heather Chen, CNN
(CNN) — This isn’t your regular bowl of pho.
Slow-cooked and simmered in broth for up to 48 hours, it’s served with tender short ribs and high-end ingredients like Wagyu beef slices, foie gras and shaved truffles – and topped off with an edible gold leaf. Duck fat is also added for extra richness.
The cost? A staggering $170 (4.1 million Vietnamese dong).
And only five bowls are served daily.
“Pho is Vietnam’s national dish, enjoyed anywhere and at any time of day… and I wanted to pay homage with this opulent new version,” said Le Trung, executive chef at the Oriental Pearl restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City.
The restaurant is located at the Vinpearl Landmark 81, Autograph Collection, which is the highest hotel in the country.
Trung told CNN Travel that although his special pho uses high-quality imported ingredients, he followed the traditional way of cooking it – gently simmering marrow bones, rich oxtail, chicken carcasses and prime short ribs with spices like cinnamon and star anise for two days to create “a wonderfully deep, rich flavor.”
“This is my re-imagining of one of the world’s most popular dishes,” Trung said of his culinary creation. “Traditionally, pho has not been considered fine dining, but we have managed to enhance the flavors to make this version taste wonderfully rich and indulgent.”
Adding the gold leaf, Trung says, was to “elevate the dish aesthetically … so it does not simply look like an ordinary bowl of noodle soup.”
Arguably one of Vietnam’s most famous dishes, pho is eaten morning, noon and night and widely served across the country in homes, street stalls and restaurants.
While also beloved around the world, foodies and pho aficionados say the humble noodle dish reflects the cultural, political and economic changes of Vietnam.
At its most basic, it consists of plain rice noodles in beef or sometimes chicken broth, garnished with herbs and thinly sliced meat.
Served in alleyways and on street corners in Vietnamese cities, a typical bowl costs anywhere between $1.50 to $3.
Oriental Pearl’s indulgent pho bowl will set you back at least 50 times as much.
And it isn’t the only expensive offering in town.
Michelin-starred restaurant Anan Saigon, also located in Ho Chi Minh City, has offered an upscale take on pho using unconventional ingredients like caviar, Japanese sake, jellyfish and sturgeon slices – priced at $100, a bargain in comparison.
Trung believes his latest offering is the most indulgent bowl of pho in the world.
“We (wanted) to elevate this culinary classic to new levels of luxury and sophistication while also pushing the boundaries of Vietnamese cuisine,” Trung said.
“The result is a spectacular bowl of pho that lingers on the taste buds and in the memory.”
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