In The Mood For Vietnamese

In The Mood For Vietnamese

What I've enjoyed and constantly return for.
Veronica Phua
Veronica Phua

If you are like me and consider Mrs. Pho to serve the holy grail of Vietnamese dry-style rice noodles and salad topped with fried spring rolls and grilled meat (item M5 on their menu), you must NOT order this.
Firstly, the only meats available at this eatery is either chicken or beef. I had the former and admittedly, it tastes decent after being marinated in lemongrass. But the sauce of the noodles was a huge disappointment because it’s plain wrong to me. Instead of the classic Vietnamese “fish sauce”, they serve a slightly viscuous chilli sauce that tastes like that ubiquitous Thai chilli sauce, with some minced garlic thrown in. After a quick taste test, I simply couldn’t bring myself to pour any of it into my bowl of noodles which is the way to enjoy this dish.
Sorry but this is a case of “never again” for me.

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Most people only think of “Long Phuong” when it comes to Vietnamese eateries in Joo Chiat. However, I feel their standard of food and service isn’t the same as before.
On a recent visit during off-peak hours, I found that it paled in comparison to “Lâp Vietnamese”, a place located alongside, separated by the small road leading into a public carpark.
Pictured above is the green papaya salad I had at this lesser well-known venue. I can vouch that it tasted a lot better in terms of freshness and seasoning than Long Phuong’s. Service was also a lot more prompt, warm and welcoming.


Decided to give “Co Hai” a try as my favourite Vietnamese eatery, “Mrs. Pho”, was closed yesterday. Although the speciality here seems to be “banh mi” (Vietnamese baguette sandwich), I was in the mood for a “Rice Vermicelli with Grilled Pork, Minced Pork and Spring Roll” instead.
What I really liked about theirs was how well-marinated and smoky the pork was. The large spring roll was decent too as it came fried to a crispy finish. What I found a little unusual was their beansprouts looked and tasted blanched to me. They’re usually served raw in my experience but that’s good news for those of you who dislike the raw style. As for the “minced pork”, based on what I had, it’s actually sliced sausage. It’s really not bad at all but Mrs. Pho’s is tastier in my opinion.
Although this bowl of “Bun Thit Nuong” did a good job of sating my craving, the version at Mrs. Pho, it’s labeled as the “M5” there, still has my heart.


My go-to at Mrs. Pho is item no. M5 but this would be the dish I'd have should I feel like having something different.
A classic from southern Vietnam, the "Hu Tieu Nam Vang" features skinny strands of slightly chewy tapioca noodles in clear pork broth. The toppings are prawns, lean pork and a hard-boiled quail's egg. As with most Vietnamese dishes, this too comes with an abundance of fresh herbs. I like this with the killer chilli paste that you can find on every table at Mrs. Pho's.

Tried this on my second visit to this Vietnamese eatery inside Orchard Towers. I think I tasted "kicap manis" (or the Vietnamese equivalent of it) as the noodles were a little sweet. Quite decent but not special. I'd pick their other dishes over this the next time.


I couldn't get enough of these delectable rolls. Fresh mustard lettuce leaves were used to wrap grilled beef slices, herbs and crunchy pickles. A quick dip in the bowl of light fish sauce was all that's needed for these as they're already bursting with flavours.


Chose to end my dinner on a wobbly note with an egg and milk flan pudding that wallowed in a pool of iced Vietnamese coffee. It tasted just like vanilla custard pudding but with a diluted touch of coffee. I wouldn't say it wow-ed but I have no complaints.


From the spread of items we ordered from "Quán Cô Ba 2", this won my heart at first bite. Very crisp and light, the bread's a replica of those in Vietnam. I only wish there was pate included in there with the meats, pickles and fresh herbs. Nonetheless, this qualified as really satisfying for me.


Exceptionally neon bright in colour (I suspect the reason for this is turmeric), the Banh Xeo from Vietnamese hawker stall "Quán Cô Ba 2" has a filling unlike the ones I've tried in Vietnam. It reminds me of the stewed type stuffed into our local "popiah" and "kueh pie tee" which essentially comprises mostly of turnip strips and pork belly. Yeah, the beansprouts have company over here. Personally, I like the taste of it. Any Vietnamese out there who can vouch for its authenticity?


I was introduced to this recently re-opened Vietnamese eatery by Burppler Dixon Chan who used to visit them regularly for their beef pho. Opened by a genial Singaporean gentleman and his Vietnamese wife who hails from Hanoi, the cooking here reflects the more delicate flavours of that city. When we were there for lunch, the place was about 90% filled with Vietnamese customers. If that's not a sure indication of how authentic the food is, I don't know what is.
They have medium and large sized bowls for hungrier folks but I went for a small ($6.90) of Pho Bo (beef noodles) which was more than sufficient for me. It had a good amount of blanched sliced beef and cooked beef in a broth that's concentrated with beefiness. Very importantly, a generous helping of fresh herbs was also present.
I took a sip of Dixon's order of Pho Ga (chicken noodle soup) and found it lighter but tasty too. It had a lingering fragrance that we later learned, came from the use of lime leaf.
We did the Hanoi thing and got a side dish of "you tiao" (fried dough sticks) for dipping in our soups. Makes perfect sense since the soups were potent with flavour.
On every table sits a squirt bottle of stingingly hot chilli and a jar of pickled garlic slices. I recommend dipping your beef in the former and adding some (or a lot) of the latter to get your bowl of noodles to higher "shiok-dom".


Abandoned my usual order of “Bun Thit Nuong Cha Gio” to try this as it had been recommended by my fellow Tastemaker Irene Arieputri.
Besides being impressed by the generous amount of beef chunks immersed alongside rice noodles, crunchy beansprouts, sliced onions and fresh basil, I also rather liked the unique sweetish-sour soup of this dish.
As usual, I couldn't get enough of the chilli paste at Mrs. Pho. Hence, I pretty much emptied a little pot of it 😆

“Bun Thit Nuong Cha Gio” is a mouthful to say out loud but every time I fill my mouth with it, I can’t help but exclaim aloud at its yumminess.
Think piping hot, juicy grilled pork fillet, deep-fried pork spring rolls and firmly bouncy pork balls; offset by cool strands of rice vermicelli, beansprouts of the fat and crunchy nature, crisp pickles, spring onion in oil, a sprinkling of ground peanuts as well as some fresh herbs. Splash these with the light, sweet and savoury fish sauce dressing served separately, then toss well before digging in.
I recommend spooning on their stingingly-hot housemade chilli paste because it goes so well with everything.


Can't cook to save my life but boy, can I eat! 😄 (I pay for all my meals unless otherwise stated)

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