The UNH Vietnamese Student Association (VSA) held its third annual Pho Night in the Memorial Union Building’s (MUB) Entertainment Center on Saturday at 6 p.m. in celebration of this traditional Vietnamese dish.
“It’s a noodle soup. We have rice noodles, and then we have two kinds of soup. We can make the broth from chicken or from beef bones, and we stuff that with a variety of vegetables like cilantro, scallions, basils, onions –and we have two kinds: beef and chicken,” VSA President Diep Tran said. A vegetarian option served with veggie broth and tofu was also offered to attendees.
Before the dish was served, the VSA presented audience members with an entertaining comedy skit illustrating the role and significance that Pho plays in Vietnamese culture.
“I got involved in VSA because I was in the culture show last year,” VSA Public Relations Manager Joe Steinhauser said. “They needed an American character, so my friend who was on the board asked me.” Steinhauser is responsible for updating the group’s Facebook page and making sure that the events the group puts on are well advertised throughout campus.
A short dance followed the comedy skit, which led way to the main event of the evening –the Pho Challenge. Eight names were selected out of a hat for the competition. The competitors were then seated at a table on-stage and served Pho in red bowls. The student that ate the fastest and finished his or her dish first would win the competition. Junior anthropology majoy Nick Davini was crowned the 2016 “Pho King” and was awarded with a hat and a certificate.
“I didn’t compete last year, but I talked to the previous Pho King while in line for the event, and he said the bowl of Pho was huge, and that it took him seven minutes to finish it,” Davini said. “I was enticed by the challenge and felt confident I could win since I didn’t eat lunch that day.”
“My friends cheered me on while I stuffed Pho in my face, so I credit them for the win. They helped me beat the previous Pho King’s record by 30 seconds,” Davini said.
All VSA members proceeded on stage to give thanks to the audience and food was then served. Each table took turns getting in line to receive the delicious Pho delicacy, and the audience enjoyed a wonderful dinner.
Although Pho Night was their last event of the semester, the VSA is hosting the Tet Fair in the spring. “This is the name of the Vietnamese Lunar New Year. We use the lunar calendar, and this year it will be in late January, and we intend to have the fair meet February,” Tran said. “And after that we have a culture show, which is focused on performances. So during the culture show we’ll have a lot of music and singing and dancing.” The culture show is scheduled for April 8, 2017.