Anyone who knows me knows I am a huge Pho lover. For those of you who don't know, Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup consisting of broth, rice noodles, herbs, and meat (usually chicken or beef). It's a popular street food in Vietnam and one of my favorite comfort foods. When I first heard that there was a Thai alternative noodle soup similar to pho, I had to try it. The Thai alternative is called boat noodle soup, or kuaitiao ruea.

Boat noodles contain both pork and beef, and are seasoned with a dark soy sauce and nam tok, which is cow or pig's blood mixed with salt. Sounds funky, if you ask me, but I'm game to try most things at least once. The noodles used in boat noodle soup can vary, it is commonly served with pork cracklings and basil

Where to go for Boat Noodles?

In order to try these noodles, I went to Pye Boat Noodle on the Upper East Side. It's an adorable little restaurant with a laid back vibe and great food; they have a great Thai iced tea and shaved ice as a dessert option. I ordered the boat noodles of which many protein and side dish options were available; I chose the pork and rice noodles.

Pho vs. Boat Noodles

Pho Noodles

beef, vegetable, broth, meat, pork, soup, pho
Isabella Gordy

Boat Noodles

rice, vegetable, beef, ramen, pork, pho, noodle
Photo courtesy of Mike Schawel

The photo above was found on Mike Schawel's blog and is being used with his permission.

What's the difference?

The first thing I noticed right away is that the broth used for boat noodles is very different from a pho broth. Pho broth is light and clear, and pairs well with a little lime and Sriracha. The broth used for Boat noodle soup is dark and pretty opaque. Nonetheless it's delicious, but a little heavier.

Bonus: Add cilantro. It's fantastic in both pho and boat noodles.

The second thing I noticed was that there was a lot of meat incorporated in this soup. This soup incorporated pork in three ways: pork meatballs, small pork chops, and pork cracklings. I'm not sure if this was a Pye Boat Noodle thing, or if this is a characteristic of Thai boat noodles in general.

Final Verdict

Overall, these boat noodles were very satisfying and very delicious. Pye Boat Noodle is my new go to for Boat Noodles, I will certainly be back for more. However, despite how delicious these these noodles are, they will not be taking pho's treasured place in my life. I have room in my heart and my stomach for both.