Vietnamese cuisine is unfamiliar territory for me. As far back as I can recall, the last Vietnamese meal I had was at a restaurant in the vicinity of Serangoon Gardens many years ago and it was too “green” and bland for me. When I was invited to Pho Street for a tasting, I was two minds about it but eventually was convinced by my peers who were smitten by Bún Chả to give it a try. Bún Chả is a Vietnamese street food that was recently in the spotlight after President Obama and celebrity Chef Anthony Bourdain “hanged out” and shared a simple meal.
Pho Street (under Select Group) currently has five outlets in heartland malls as well as Changi Airport Terminal 2 Departure Transit. They will be opening a new branch at Compass 1 Mall later part of 2016. We chose to have the tasting at their flagship outlet, Bedok Mall, which first opened in 2013.
The Pho Street menu is designed by their Vietnamese executive Chef at Select Group who is from Ho Chi Minh City. He had tweaked the flavours of authentic street delights to suit the local palate and have received favourable feedback from patrons thus far.
Lucky I got my hubby to come along for this tasting and we got to try out a fair number of signature dishes from their menu.
We were served our beverages while we wait on the food. The lemon cooler is sour-sweet with refreshing notes from the basil and peppermint whereas the passion fruit mojito is primarily sweet with the herbaceous flavours of basil – ideal refreshments for this hot sweltering weather in Singapore.
The chicken skewers were pretty average for us, peppery and tender. We preferred the pork rolls and crab cakes. The generous amount of pork with vegetables wrapped in a crispy batter which was light and not oily, delightful to bite into the rolls with a tad of chilli sauce. The crab cakes were well seasoned with delectable flavours of crab and mushrooms in it. We definitely wanted seconds of these crab cakes!
The rice skin for the summer rolls were ideally thin with lavish amounts of herbs, vegetables, rice noodles inside with pork belly and prawns. The peanut sauce complemented the simplicity of the rolls – a sweet and refreshing combination.
I liked that there were different dips for each dish which harmonised with the flavours delicately. The crispy fried chicken mid wings (which are the best parts in my opinion) when dipped into the sweet fish sauce with pepper hit the savoury and sweet notes together. A must-try if you are one who likes chicken wings as much as I do!
The sesame rice crackers were crispy but not much different from the usual rice crackers. The dip was probably the Vietnamese part of the dish, made from pork floss with a sweet fish-sauce based paste and a hint of spice. It was nonetheless an interesting dish. I reckon these would be a hit for children to munch on if they can take a bit of spice.
Bún Chả is a Hanoi street food that consists of a bowl of sour-sweet fish sauce with strips of pork belly, pickled green papaya and carrots in it. One has to dip the rice vermicelli, vegetables and grilled pork patties into the sauce and slurp up the deliciousness. The sauce reminded me a little of Ah-char, the traditional Nonya spicy pickled mixed vegetable salad. With so many flavours and textures mixed together, this mouthwatering dish beckons you to just eat more of it with its lightness and palatable taste.
I learnt that the original version in Hanoi has more vegetables and blander seasonings so the Executive Chef for Pho Street created this “stronger” version for the Singaporean tastebuds. Bún Chả is only available for a limited period only so do try it out before they take it off the menu! Check their Facebook for updates on their seasonal menu.
My first thought when I saw this – a subway sandwich with coriander?!
The mix of three types of meat with distinct textural and flavour differences together with fresh vegetables was simply satisfying, complete with a Vietnamese twist from the coriander. I definitely like this sandwich better than Subway’s!
Last but not least one of our favourites, Pho Beef Combination with a balanced beefy broth! Both hubby and I enjoyed the Pho the most with the Pho noodles that slips down your throat as you take each spoonful of it with the broth. The individual beef elements were well-cooked and delicious (except for the beef balls which I usually don’t fancy). Even though we were so well-fed by now, we slurped down every drop of that broth.
This meal definitely changed my impression of Vietnamese food and I can honestly say I like it! All thanks to the clever changes that the Chef made to the menu, it converted me to a fan of Vietnamese cuisine. Thank you Pho Street for the invite and we will be back soon!