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Phontastic!

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Pho Ga (Update March ’16)

We came here tonight prior to catching a movie at the Cinemaxx on the others side of the road. My brother in law originally intended to bring us to the running sushi place next door but that joint was bursting with people and no free seats were to be seen. Not having much time before the movie started we improvised and swiftly opted for their sister restaurant that cooks up a variety of Asian inspired wok stir fries, that were my definition of Asian cuisine about 8 years ago.

In the tradition of good germanized Asian food, I set my mind on ‘Ente Kross’ (crispy duck), a friend’s fitting name for a common fried-to-the-death-duck dish (not literally of course). Other than in Asia, where people love their fatty and chewy bits, Germans, in general, are not too fond of excessive fats and wobbly textures so those duck dishes are crisper than crisp, probably a bit dry yet still kinda delicious. Almost decided, I browsed my the pho bo on the menu and got indecisive again. When I am confused at a restaurant nowadays I tend to ask the staff for their recommendation given my shortlist of dishes. The lovely waitress was pretty quick in swaying me into the direction of the big bowl of piping hot Vietnamese soup, filled with lots of goodies; there were lime wedges, loads of those flat rice noodles, greens like herbs and scallions and deliciously tender beef slices. I was only missing some chili padi but they were also just one request to the waitress away.

As far as the broth goes I was pretty impressed. As always I would have wished for some more cinnamon flavor but since I mention that every single time that I am eating pho, I’m not even sure anymore if it’s actually supposed to have such a strong flavor or if it’s just in my head. The sriracha added a ubiquitous and intensifying heat to it all but the fresh chili just gave out free right hooks for my taste buds. It almost gave me the hiccups, which in my case stands for a proper chili experience and at the same time signals that I’m very close to crossing my line of tolerance. I was slurping and sweating away and felt quite happy to see such a decent bowl of pho in a place that I wouldn’t have expected it.

Dish Update March: I recently came here again during a shopping spree in town, and this time, I ordered the pho ga with chicken. I’m not 100% sure if it was the same broth, I would maybe say it was a little less intense but the chicken was just delicious; white meat that was somewhat tenderized, lightly panfried and kicking out some proper chicken aromas. A nice changeup and still healthy enough.

The place is no thrills, functional and clean but because of the open kitchen you might take a nice little food scent home with you depending where you were seated. There are tables for couples and groups with benches, meant for quick meals and not for lounging around for hours. Service is mostly nice, especially our waitress was super attentive and later even checked if I was actaually happy with my final choice. As a result of the streamlined menu, the kitchen runs very efficiently and fast and the food we had was great and cheap. You can never go wrong with an affordable delicious pho now can you? Nice one.

Get Your Grub On!

Mai Wok (open everyday)
Bertoldstr. 53
79098 Freiburg
Germany
http://www.maiwok-freiburg.de/

Pho-tastic.

imageAnother yoga session at Tanjong Pagar ended late and bored of choices I was wandering around the area expecting a dinner surprise around every corner. Starving and after too many corners without anything amazing behind, I took a shortcut through Icon Village to get back to the main road and ran past ‘Saigon Café‘ which looked like it was about to close but the host said that they would still feed me if I decided fast. Done and done.

This was probably the fastest Pho Bo I have ever had as it took literally less than five minutes from ordering to have it on my table. Steaming hot and aside the typical herbs, chili and lime which made me very optimistic about things. Once the temperature was down to a bearable level I started sipping and slurping like there was no tomorrow. The broth had my beloved cinnamon flavor and a lightly sweet and sour after taste from the beef and the lemon. The noodles were crazy fat which gave them an awesome chewy texture and made ’em perfect to fill up a hungry guy like me tonight. Towards the end they became a bit mushy though so I would recommend ignoring the advice from our mothers and just gobbling it down as fast as you can. Oh and the beef was outstanding; lean, heaps and delicious. Great stuff.

Not an eye catcher for sure but the pho here now ranks within my top two in Singapore so I’m a bit envious of all you people living at Icon, in general and for having such a place in your basement.

Saigon Café
12 Gopeng Street
#01-82/83 Icon Village
Singapore 078877
Tel: +65 6225 2340

In for a surprise.

imageI was on a spontaneous one-day / one-night business trip to K.L. and after our meeting the colleagues there took us out for dinner to ‘alexis’ at Mid Valley. The place looked plain, no thrills just like any other mall restaurant and had a fairly mixed and quite worrying, so called intercontinental menu.

For starters I had the ‘Duck Confit‘. Yes, that’s right, ‘Duck Confit‘ as an appetiser, probably one of the best ideas I have come across in a long time. I’m not quite sure how authentic it was, since I had this rather seldom as a main but as it was in fact wickedly awesome, I couldn’t give a lesser damn. It was super crispy crackling on the skin with the meat still moist and savory and the balsamic reduction, some arugula and the caramelized pears were a brilliant sweet-sour-bitter contra play. A-freaking-mazing.

imageAfter my fancy and unusual large french starter I followed a colleague’s recommendation and ordered the ‘Pho Bo‘ still keeping my expectations low. It turned out there was no need to be conservative for the bowl was huge and piping hot with that lovely cinnamon fragrance steaming up from the top. The noodles were the thicker kind, awesome chewy and the meat was plenty and lean. On top of that they handed loads of proper pho condiments like sprouts, basil, mint, chilli and lemon, which I miss so often. Now that’s how it’s done.

Well this place was a nice culinary surprise. With its’ unpromising facade and it’s weird all-around-the-globe-menu it nearly got me fooled and disappointed at first just to knock me off my dining shoes with some outstanding foods and heavy ‘Pinot Noir‘. A good night.

alexis – bistro wine bar
Lot f209 1st Floor
The Gardens
Mid Valley City
59200 Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia
Tel: +60 3 2287 2281
http://www.alexis.com.my/

Never give up on your pho.

imageWe arrived at Cat Ba Island early morning after a long trip involving three buses and one boat and before heading out looking for some appropriate accommodation we wanted get something nice and filling into our bellies. Since we had just booked a couple of days climbing at Asia Outdoors at the Noble House we just stayed for breakfast at the ‘Good Bar’ downstairs.

Not giving up hope to be able to find a great one, I ordered another ‘Pho Bo‘, which again was rather tasteless. The soup had bland flavours with only a slight hint of cinnamon; noodles were plenty though and the meat was super lean, juicy and with great texture. Overall it wasn’t too bad and for breakfast the light flavours were actually quite fitting.

imageFor seconds I had the ‘Banana Chocolate Pancake‘ which was outstandingly awesome. The pancake itself was thin and buttery, topped with the perfect combination of banana and chocolate, which was of the darker kind, so it all wasn’t too sweet either. So good it made me order this nearly everyday during our stay in Cat Ba and will as well if I should ever come back here.

The Good Bar
Đường 1 Tháng 4
Cát Bà
Cát Hải, Hải Phòng,
Vietnam
Tel: +84 31 388 8363
http://thenoblehousecatba.wordpress.com/

Breakfast Pho.

imageAfter the soupy disappointment from the night before I spotted a pho station at the breakfast buffet of the ‘Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi’ we stayed at. This soup was different, even though nothing compared to ‘Pho Hoa’ in HCMC it was still miles ahead of yesterday’s bowl. The chicken soup, still light, had hints of cinnamon, giving it this distinct fragrance I love so much about pho and as it was breakfast I simply overlooked the fact that the noodles here were actually pretty soft as well. The added bunch of crunchy sprouts however ,made up for their lack in bite and even though the condiments were also limited to chili and lime here, the spice nicely kicked my butt and woke me up good.

This is a great hotel conveniently located in the business district of Ha Noi and the breakfast selection at the ‘Mangosteen’ nicely mixes Vietnamese and international cuisines. The pho was obviously not the most unique bowl I have ever had but this breakfast version made me curious to taste their à la carte bowl as well.

Mangosteen Restaurant (at Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi)
83A Ly Thuong Kiet Street
Hoan Kiem District
Ha Noi
Vietnam
Tel: +84 (04) 3822 2800
http://www.moevenpick-hotels.com/en/asia/vietnam/hanoi

There’s still hope.

imageI was back home for hardly one week and even though it was just for a couple of days I already craved some Asian food. Doing a bit of research online brought us to ‘coa’ (cuisine of asia) in central Stuttgart. At first I was pretty sceptical about this place as it offered a big mix of dishes from Vietnam, Thailand, India, China etc. and I would have felt better if they were specialized in just one type of cuisine but now we were here already, so what?

We had some Vietnamese ‘Summer Rolls‘ which were quite tasty actually but I didn’t really get the fact that they just served the ingredients and we had to assemble them ourselves, one of those weird “food experiences” I suppose. We also had the ‘Shao Mai‘ which I didn’t like but then, I never really do. As main we both ordered their ‘Pho‘ and I had ankle-height-low expectations that this was going to be any good. What a nice surprise it was then when it turned out being pretty delicious. The broth was super good, full of that cinnamon I miss so often and there were many herbs like coriander floating around in it too. The noodles weren’t anything too fancy but the meat was softly tender and super lean.

They messed up our orders a couple of times so we had to wait quite a while for our food but the staff handled the situation fairly clever by throwing in some free espressi at the end of our meal. Generally I must say though that eating here actually made me pretty happy. It was probably not the best pho I have ever had but it can easily keep up and even outdo some of the bowls I tried in Singapore and it’s always fantastic to find some decent Asian grub in good old Germany. I’ll remember this one.

coa – cuisine of asia
Lautenschlagerstr. 23
70173 Stuttgart
Germany
Tel: +49 (0)711 2184 2566
http://www.coa.as/

A great friend recommend.

imageFriends invited us to join them for Vietnamese dinner tonight at ‘Viet Express’ at China Square and even though I was a bit worried about that unpromising name I was confident that our friends would’t bring us to something boring. It actually didn’t look like an “Express” kinda place more simple and a bit frumpy but the food here was really a surprise. I ordered my all time favourite,  ‘Pho Bo‘ with sliced raw meat. First slurp and it had me, this was the best pho I have had in Singapore to date, nicely infused with cinnamon and with this light beefy sour taste. It got even better after I threw the side greens and a good dash of the chilli and oyster sauce into it. The sharp onions and some fresh chilli made it nicely spicy, the beef was lean and tender, alone the noodles were nothing surprising. Service related I wouldn’t know what to write about really as besides serving the food we ordered pretty much nothing else happened but some things are just secondary after a delicious meal. Thanks A. and D., this one comes on the list.

Viet Express
3 Pickering Street
#01-34 China Square Central (Nankin Row)
Singapore 048423
Tel: +65 6536 9114