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.

IMG_3889

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.

IMG_3892

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

Advertisements

An adventure in Vietnamese Cuisine: Ba Noi’s

IMG_3562

Since I got back here, one particular cuisine always comes up when discussing our culinary adventures. Besides our liking for Japanese, Italian, and Middle Eastern food in no particular order, Vietnamese comes out as third in Kat’s list, because of some previous culinary adventures and the reputation of Vietnamese cuisine as being somewhat healthy, at least compared to some Filipino cooking. Thankfully, we finally found some time to try out the food at Ba Noi’s, on Perea Street in Makati.

After a lot of debate over the rather extensive menu, Kat took the Bun Ga Nuong Xa which is grilled lemongrass chicken over dry rice noodles. I, on the other hand, had Bo Luc Lac which stir-fried beef served with fried basil leaves and a salt and pepper dip with lime. To wash it all down, we ordered some Jasmine Tea.

The Bo Luc Lac is a well-balanced dish with the medium rare beef, fried basil, and dip complementing each other in the tightrope of getting different flavors to jive well together. It’s perfect with the plain rice I ordered, but at the same time, had to set aside the chili and the seeds as much as I could. If medium rare isn’t your thing, one can definitely ask if the chef could meet it to your standards (but whatever you do, don’t butcher it by asking for a well-done). The salt and pepper dip that comes with this dish is a simple but delicious touch.

IMG_3571

On the other hand, the lemongrass chicken came of as more hot and peppery than tart and lemony. This wasn’t entirely a surprise, knowing that Vietnamese cuisine shares some similarities with other Southeast Asian cuisines such as Thai. As it was, the rice noodles made an interesting contrast to the rest of the very savory ingredients.

IMG_3568

And the Jasmine tea is a nice touch to cleanse the palate after a savory meal.

The place had a casual metropolitan chic feel to it, well suited for its casual dining feel. If you’re going for something authentic-looking, this isn’t the place. Otherwise, the place is definitely worth a shot.

Food Score: 5/5. As food goes, Ba Noi’s is spot on and if Kat’s red cheeks after eating all the spicy goodness is concerned, a moment of perfection. This place also serves Vietnam drip coffee, which is reputed to be good (and Kat still mourns the fact that she cannot have any of this drink).

Ambiance / Service Score: 4/5. The servers are attentive enough and catered to our needs well. And the modernist interior is neat and visually pleasing to dine in.

GERD Score: 2.5/5. Thankfully there are options, but unfortunately, not many for someone dealing with heartburn because Vietnamese cuisine has bird’s eye chili as a staple.

Epilepsy Score: 4/5. In general, dishes here do not rely on preserved meats or artificial seasonings, which is a good thing. Unless one is triggered by chilis, this place should be pretty safe.

Team Glasses Food Score: 4/5. Ba Noi’s definitely meets up our expectations of a good Vietnamese restaurant, having both good food and a comfortable place to eat. We enjoyed our experience here and recommend the place for those who want to take a bite of Vietnamese cuisine.

To our readers, if you have any suggestions as to which restaurant or cafe you’d like us to try next, go to our Contact Us page and let us know your thoughts and suggestions.

Ba Noi's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato