Archive

Tag Archives: Soup

Phontastic!

wp-1457383669189.jpg

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/

Best supporting act.

imageAfter my ‘Ramen Burger‘ and just four meters across the room I ordered my second course the ‘Dipping-style La Mien with Laksa Cream‘ or much shorter ‘Laksa Tsukemen’ from the other pop-up concept shop here, ‘Rakusabā’.

We were a bit back in line and particular attention was paid to the creation of each plate so we had to wait quite sometime until we finally got ours. For me the hold off wasn’t too bad as I had the burger just before but my friend nearly starved watching us eating as it was already quite late for lunch. When the time had come it all looked pretty neat and interesting and I shot my pictures as fast as I could to finally start eating. The noodles weren’t too special, no typical and slippery laksa bee hoon anyway and so that they wouldn’t stick together they were drizzled with some oil. Unfortunately they were still a little stuck so ended up just being oily sticky noodles. Dipping them into the thick concentrated laksa cream was quite funny and unfamiliar. Flavours as one remembers laksa, coconutty and spicy with an unusual viscous consistency. It was good we were so hungry though as every slurp was extremely filling, tasty and interesting definitely but just a tad too rich for my liking. What I enjoyed most about this dish were all the condiments on the plate. There was a stick of crispy oven roasted you tiao that was quite hard to bite, some wonderfully crunchy lotus roots, two decadent pieces of soft and juicy pork belly confit, not so soft soft egg with spicy shrimp sambal and my absolute favourite, the salmon otak otak gratin (fishcake) with it’s hint of spicyness, light taste and some crunchy pickled cucumbers on top. When finished with all, we received a top up of a shrimp and pork infused broth to water down the laksa cream for the last slurps. Not bad at all and how it’s properly done tsukemen-style, but I was just too full by then to completely empty my bowl.

I really kinda liked it because of it’s originality and the many very different things I got to try. Just the waiting time a couple of minutes shorter and the sauce a couple drops more watery would have made it even more enjoyable.

Rakusabā
The U Factory
Boiler Room, Blk 39
#01-10
Singapore

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

Mediocre start with a nice safe.

imageIt was my first night in Hanoi and waiting for my brother to arrive later that night a friend and I went to get some grub at ‘Quan An Ngon’ around the corner from our hotel. The setup looked promising with a nice outside garden filled with tables and different stalls offering all sorts of Vietnamese favourites.

As a must start of every Vietnam trip and because it was rather chilly outside I started with a bowl of hot ‘Pho Bo‘. Unfortunately this turned out to be rather boring, even though the soup was warm and comforting it lacked that special taste and was not really different to any sort of ordinary chicken soup; no cinnamon and besides lime and chilli sauce no condiments to add. The noodles were pretty soft too and only the beef slices were nicely lean, soft and tasted kina nice. Not my greatest find but I had already heard that pho in the north is very different and less unique compared to the type you get down south.

imageNot fully satisfied I tried to turn things around by ordering ‘Bánh Xèo‘, the Vietnamese street style pancake I knew from HCMC and the street food festival in Singapore. When it came I was quite happy to see lots of greens on the plate as well as some rice paper to wrap it all up in. I knew this only as lettuce wraps but couldn’t wait to give it a try anyway. It turned out to be quite good, the crispy pancake, the basil and mint and the crunchy sprouts all worked quite well together and were fun to eat too. Overall this was a tad dry and nothing I would really call a taste explosion but still quite satisfactory and actually managed to reconcile me over the letdown with the pho.

This place is probably a good start for visitors to try out many different Vietnamese delights and phase into the local cuisine at an obvious clean place with friendly English speaking staff and a nice beer garden atmosphere. There are many other dishes to try here so I might come back and give them another shot when I’m in Ha Noi the next time around.

Quán Ăn Ngon
18 Phan Boi Chau
Hoan Kiem District
Ha Noi
Vietnam
Tel: +84 (04) 3942 8162
http://www.ngonhanoi.com.vn

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/

Under the bridge.

imageFinally it was ‘Bak Kut Teh‘ night since I had heard so much about the fantastic K.L. herbal pork ribs that I always neglected to try because I was a very patriotic supporter of the peppery version that’s so popular in Singapore. Anywho, my old colleague friend, who lives down here now, picked me up and we took a little ride to ‘Ah Wang Bak Kut Teh’ in a picturesque location at a roadside, under a bridge. A bit f@#&ed up but in a “don’t judge the book by its’ cover” kind of way, still comfortable, not yet repellent.

That dish they served was brilliant, even that I could’ve lived without the thin layer of beancurd skin, the broth was amazing with a dense and strong herbal pork taste. The ribs were lean, soft and satisfyingly meaty and we also ordered some enoki mushrooms aside which made a fantastic add-on to the soup that I haven’t had before. I loved this stuff and all in all it was a lovely evening at a lovely dodgy place. Off to dessert.

image

Ah Wang Bak Kut Teh 亞旺肉骨茶
No. 32, Batu 4 1/2
Jalan Klang Lama
53320 Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia
Tel: +60 13 2282 288

What’s up with all the ‘Expresses’?

imageWalking around the foot outlet cramped basement arcade connecting Mid Valley and the Gardens Mall seeking for some dinner inspiration gave us a severe case of sensory overload. We were tired and couldn’t really make up our mind and since my friend just wanted something light and healthy we ended up at ‘Zun Express’ a Chinese herbal soup place. The ‘Ginseng Herbal Chicken Soup‘ I had was actually pretty good, I mean it was just boring chicken soup but seemed to be perfect when you’re down with the flu or something; strengthening I guess and the little chicken meat that was in there was tender and tasted ok. All in all this wasn’t a very filling experience and I skipped the rest of the non soupy dishes on the menu because despite them all being called healthy, 99% also had the word “fried” in their description. Let’s just say I was happy there was a ‘Hui Lau Shan‘ just around the corner to fill up the leftover space with awesome moussy mango.

The Zun Express 尊厨
Lingkaran Syed Putra
The Gardens Mall
Lot LG-231, Lower Ground Floor
59200 Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia