Vietnamese street food staples take the modern road at P.H.A.T. Pho

8 months ago

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Those who revere the act of eating a bowl of pho aren’t after the feeling of contentment. Rather, their aim is to devour the bowl of pho with gusto after performing a ritual of sorts: from mixing up the add-on ingredients according to their preference, to taking that magical slurp. The folks at (Pretty Hot and Tasty) P.H.A.T. Pho know exactly what I’m talking about. That’s because they take their pho game seriously and they’ve certainly elevated authentic Vietnamese cuisine into a modern level of deliciousness.

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Originally from Cebu, P.H.A.T. Pho is the brain child of Abaca Group’s Jason Hyatt. Together with The Moment Group, they brought the brand to Manila where they opened their first joint venture in Serendra in February 2014. The dining space may be small compared to its neighboring restos, but that doesn’t deter customers who crave this modern take on Vietnamese cuisine. The eatery also prides itself in its casual ambiance and quick service, features that would entice office workers and condo residents to come out of their dwellings for a quick but satisfying, healthy meal.

Before I get to the fabulous bowls of pho, let’s start with the satays. Grilled to perfection with heady aromatics like garlic and shallots, every variant is a must-try, with each satay given its own special treatment. The chicken is tossed in five spices while the pork is marinated with fragrant lemongrass. The beef variant is made more succulent with quality angus beef. Next are the Fried Egg Rolls, which may look like regular lumpia, but each bite packs a whole lot of oomph when it comes to the vermicelli noodles, minced pork, shrimps, and mushrooms filling. The Fish Sauce Chicken Wings, though, is another story. The humble chicken wing is turned into a masterpiece once it’s marinated with aromatics like garlic and lemongrass, plus Vietnamese fish sauce. It is then fried and finished off with black and white sesame seeds plus chopped coriander and served with a side of pickled garlic. I would like to warn you that this dish is very addicting, but try to wait just a minute and eat these wings with a bowl of Com Chien or Vietnamese-style fried rice. It’s a bowl of goodness mixed with minced chicken, prawns, and mixed vegetables. If you have a big appetite, order the Saigon Baguette Bahn Mi. This big boy of a sandwich layers lots of flavor with every ingredient—two slices of French baguette slathered with liver pâté, containing generous servings of cha lua or sliced pork sausage, meatballs, ham, scrambled eggs, and pickled vegetables.

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Now, let’s get to the pho. Go big and order the Pho Special. Enjoy a large bowl of tender cubes of angus beef, shaved braised beef, meatballs, tendon, bean sprouts, basil, onions, cilantro, and fried shallots swimming in a heady beef broth that’s been boiling for hours. For those who want pho that’s more interesting than the usual, go for the Seafood Pho. You’ll fall in love with the spicy broth made more flavorful with the addition of fish cakes, shrimps, fresh squid slices, cilantro, and bean sprouts. It’s best to remember that although every bowl of pho arrives with its standard broth and contents, the thrill of it all comes from the mixing and matching of flavors from the different herb garnishes and condiments served on the side. Each order comes with a side of pickled garlic slices, hoisin sauce, and a wedge of lime. But don’t forget to add some Sriracha and Vietnamese fish sauce. The mélange of sweet, sour, salty, and spicy in one bowl will keep you coming back for more.

Of course, no Vietnamese meal is without its staple coffee offerings. Enjoy authentic Vietnamese Coffee prepared tableside made with a strong brew mixed with condensed milk. As a sweeter alternative, have the Vietnamese Coffee Jellocoffee made into jelly then served with a drizzle of condensed milk and a heaping scoop of vanilla ice cream.

A bowl of pho is for the strong hearted and the open-minded. It’s for people who love to play around with their food, build up flavors, and customize every spoonful. For those seeking to enjoy a symphony flavors in just one sitting, visit P.H.A.T. Pho and have your fill of something incredible.

P.H.A.T. Pho.  Ground Floor, Serendra, Bonifacio Global City

Words by Angeli de Rivera
Photographed by Floyd Jhocson of Studio 100


Check out these dishes that you can make at home to satisfy your Vietnamese cravings:

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Stuffed Bittergourd Soup with Misua

Vietnamese Chicken Wings


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