Vina Trang

A day after the Zao trip, I needed another solo  Vietnamese food trip to ease the sick days. This time around, I decided to sit down at Vina Thrang at Century City Mall for a nice bowl of healthy Pho for the weary foodie soul.

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For my stay here, I chose their Pho Nam which is a steaming bowl of flat rice noodles, beef broth, soft tenders and beef round steak. There was also some celery and spring onions mixed in as well..

The Pho’s broth was at my preferred temperature, with some hints of steam flowing up from the bowl. Just like in the tale of Goldilocks, “It’s not too hot, and not too cold. It was just right.” The soft tender pieces of steak were soft enough to be slightly chewy with some firmness. It was tender and well cooked, completing the comforting experience to the bowl.

Aside from the warm and fresh bowl of Pho, Vina Trang also provided a glass of their cool pandan tea in lieu of your typical house water. The restaurant also sells bags of the stuff. Instead of your typical tea bags, these leaves inside are whole for a purer flavor.

The theme of the place tries to balance both modernist chic with some paintings of typical everyday vietnam life, as we know it here in Manila, which makes the place cozy, but not too distanced from being what it is. A place where one can enjoy Vietnamese food as it should be, simple, straightforward, and unpretentious. This is definitely a place to try every now and then to get your Vietnamese food fix when you’re in the Century City Mall area.

Food Score: 4/5: Vina Trang manages to stick well to its Vietnamese roots with fresh ingredients and tried and tested methods of cooking it well.

Ambiance Score: 4/5: The paintings around the restaurant brings the more modern look come to life here, which makes for a great casual place to dine.

Service Score: 4/5: The servers here were attentive to my needs and quite accommodating to my questions.

GERD Score: 4/5: The good thing about their menu selection was that the main ingredients are placed in, but I would hope that they also place markers if a particular item was spicy or not at any given time. The variety on drink selections is most welcome.

Neurodivergent Score: 4/5: The fresh ingredients are a great boon to the place, but sensitive diners may need to be cautious with some seasonings.  The drink selections offer plenty of non-caffeinated alternatives to complement the dining experience.

Team Glasses Score: 4/5: Overall, we think that Vina Trang is a place for anyone looking for a quick and healthy eat, while satisfying one’s Vietnamese food cravings.

Vina Trang Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Zao

In our many food travels, Pho remained to be our go-to choice when either one or both of us are sick. Unfortunately, this food journey was me coming down with the flu and wanted something hearty but helpful at the same time.

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Since Phat Pho at Serendra was closed, I asked Kat for other options and she recommended that I try Zao, the place where she first had a bite of what Vietnamese cuisine had to offer.

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For my time here, I chose the Zao Pho, a nice warm bowl of flank, brisket, meatballs, tendons and rice noodles, along with herbs, just like how they serve it in the South.

As a matter of preference, I’m partial to steaming hot broth and theirs was warm but not as warm as I would like. However to be fair, the subtle broth brought out the elements of the dish, from the fresh herbs used to the tenderness of the brisket and even the tendons. Tendons tend to be where people normally struggle in cooking it just right. The chefs at Zao nailed it, as the tender bite-sized pieces of tendon melts in the mouth.

Aside from the fancy-but-cozy feel of the place, I felt rather welcome at Zao from start to finish. The Zao Pho helped with making me feel slightly better from being sick because of the recent change of weather here in Manila.

Food Score: 4.5/5: I would have to say that their Zao Pho is really good and their other fares are both visually appealing and a treat to the senses.

Ambiance Score: 4/5: Zao’s décor may have looked intimidating at first glance, but I felt rather a home and comfortable here. The place provided a happy medium between elegance with privacy, and a date spot either with your friends or significant other.

Service Score: 4/5: The servers here at Zao were quite attentive to one’s needs and handles, be it my request for warm water to immediately taking care of any requests I have because I felt under the weather that day.

GERD Score: 4.5/5: I appreciated the fact that they provide the list of ingredients in each menu item, which can help people with heartburn or certain food allergies to pick out the food they can eat. At the same time, their menu offered many food options which was also helpful as well.

Neurodivergent Score: 4/5: Some flavorings and seasonings may not go down well with sensitive diners. That aside, the list of ingredients is a great help in picking dishes for those with hypersensitivity or medication interaction issues

Team Glasses Score: 4/5: The great thing about Zao is that Vietnamese food is mostly healthy and freshly served, give or take a few spices that some people have concerns with. The place is definitely a must-try and another great place to have some Pho during the sick days, or even on a lark.

Zao Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sick Day Specials: Phát Phơ

 

If one’s a regular reader of our blog, one would immediately see a trend. Ever since Kat introduced me to Phơ, we’ve been going to Vietnamese spots for a decent bowl of Phơ when one or both of us is sick.

As of this writing, we both have the snuffles and a bit of a cough (not sure if it’s going to go into an actual flu, hopefully not); so we decided to have a change of pace and try Phát Phơ at the Power Plant Mall.

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Seeing that it was only late merienda (afternoon snack) or early dinner, we both ordered the smaller portions of pho. I kid you not, small portions it was not. Kat had the Pho Bo Vien, flat rice noodles with beef balls. I, on the other hand, had the tried-and-tested chicken noodle soup solution by the name of Pho Ga.

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Pho Ga

For the Pho Ga, the broth was mild but still full of flavor, setting the canvas for the crisp vegetables, firm and chewy rice noodles, and tender chicken slices to shine. With each bite, one is able to savor the flavor of all its ingredients. This may look light on the stomach in a smaller serving but incredibly filling.

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Pho Bo Vien

The Pho Bo Vien was not too strongly seasoned, thus allowing the beef and vegetables’ flavors to come through. It was also another filling, hearty dish worth savoring on a not so great day.

And then we ended our early dinner with some hot lemon tea, perfectly suited to cleanse our palate after our meal.

In summary, we definitely needed the pho break and I leave you a picture of the aftermath of our bowls to describe how good it really was.

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Food Score: 4.5/5. The pho bowls we had hit the spot of what we needed for the afternoon and our respective less-than-stellar health.

Ambiance / Service Score: 4/5. While the place feels a little cramped due to space considerations in the mall, it still had the vibe and feel of a chic fusion Vietnamese restaurant with the subtle hues and color combinations. The servers were thankfully attentive to our needs.

GERD Score: 4.5/5. As someone who has to deal with GERD, I’d have to say that if you’re not doing smaller portions of the meals here, it’s best to share a bowl or meal with someone else. Other than that, I appreciate the fresh ingredients and well flavoured meal we had. Phát Phơ also offers plenty of other options which is something I also appreciate. (One more thing, keep your hands off the Sriracha, no matter how tempting or perfect it might be on the pho.)

Epilepsy Score: 4/5. The caveat with most broths is that one does not know all the stock’s ingredients, so some sensitive diners may be upset or thrown off. That being said, Phát Phơ has other dishes that may be more appealing to diners with specific food limitations.

Team Glasses Score: 4.5/5. All things considered, we enjoyed our meal here at Phát Phơ, something one or a group can enjoy on a rainy day even if you have one or both of our conditions. Pho is not just noodle soup; its ingredients are akin to many used in Filipino cooking, and thus can make the soup more of a hearty stew. We do hope that more people will consider and try out this dish.

P.H.A.T. Pho Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pho Bac (the Team Glasses Sick Day Special)

There are some days that can only be cured by a bowl of soup, particularly one that is a step above instant chicken noodles. We happened to have one of those off days recently thanks to a sudden shift in the weather, but fortunately, we found ourselves within walking distance of Pho Bac, another Vietnamese restaurant that serves just what the doctor ordered.

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Pho refers to a number of Vietnamese noodle soup recipes, usually made with a mix of rice noodles, meat, and an assortment of herbs. The restaurant Pho Bac serves up chicken, beef, and seafood soups, as well as variations such as pho with egg noodles, or with mixed seafood. Other dishes available here include salad noodles, and house specialties such as Vietnamese crepe and chao tom (shrimp on cane with rice wrapper).

Since Lee and I were feeling under the weather, we chose to have two different bowls of pho: mi ga or chicken pho with egg noodles, and bun ca or pho with fish and rice noodles.  Both orders of pho were served with small dishes of bean sprouts and basil leaves that we could add to our soups according to our respective tastes. No other strong spices or condiments were necessary for our meal.

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In my past experiences eating chicken pho, I have found that much of the flavour comes from the spices in the broth. However Pho Bac’s mi ga also derives its taste from the egg noodles themselves, which lend a certain heartiness to an otherwise mild dish. In contrast, the bun ca also features small cubes of tofu and a hint of chili, giving a little extra kick to the soup. These interesting soup dishes were not only tasty but also very filling. In fact I daresay that the pho in this restaurant is large enough to serve as an afternoon snack for two or three.

In some ways, food is medicine in itself, if only for its giving the body what it needs to boost its natural immune defences. And while pho is definitely not a cure-all, it does fit the bill for those ‘off’ days when a little warm soup is all that one needs to get back in fighting form. Fortunately Pho Bac is found at a number of locations, ready to serve the hungry, peckish, or peaky diner needing that extra bit of heartiness to get on.

The Food Score:  4/5. For some diners, the pho may be too mild in flavour; in fact we could hardly taste the spice in the bun ca. However on the whole,  one definitely gets value for one’s money in this restaurant. This is where one can find comfort food without breaking the bank.

Ambiance/Service Score:   4/5. The particular branch we were at was rather cramped, and difficult for diners to move around in. However the staff was helpful and attentive, and the food was served as promptly as possible.

GERD Score: 4/5. Considering that even the globules of spice in the pho didn’t set me off that much, it’s definitely heartburn friendly to an extent. But it has to be said that considering the size of the pho itself, it’s not meant for a single person with GERD. Only upside to that is, more to share.

Epilepsy Score:  4/5. The trouble with soup in general is that one isn’t always sure what goes in the stock. So sensitive diners may need to pass on the pho, or at least inquire what ingredients were used. Herbs and spices may not agree with some people or interfere with their medications, so it’s also best to inquire about these before ordering.

Team Glasses Score: 4/5. If one is looking for soul food on a bad day, this is worth a visit. After all, good food in itself is therapeutic, and a good bowl of pho from here fits the bill.

Pho Bac Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato