Residents and regular visitors of Cebu City have long raved about a certain Vietnamese restaurant, where bowls of pho contain the kind of flavors that can make pundits of the dish salivate. And to stand out in a city that’s slowly turning into a solid culinary destination (thanks to the likes of Anthony Bourdain endorsing its lechon), it’s no mean feat.

There’s no need to hop onto a plane, though. That restaurant, P.H.A.T. Pho (short for Piping Hot and Tasty Pho), has arrived in Metro Manila, courtesy of Moment Group, the same group that conceptualized Namnam, Burger Bar and ‘Cue. The seemingly unassuming restaurant owned by the acclaimed Abaca group is just a week in operation in Bonifacio Global City (the branch first opened last February 12), but it looks like it has gained considerable momentum going forward, judging by the number of customers present on our visit.

phat pho serendra copy

This hip place, with its red and black walls filled with high tables and plastic chairs, is tucked comfortably among the restaurant row of Serendra. With narrow interiors that reflect more a roadside stall in Saigon than a typical sit-down restaurant, the place can get really packed with customers of every stripe. Fortunately, service is great and the food arrives quickly.

For this visit, we started with the Chilled Shrimp Rice Paper Rolls (Goi Cuon). It’s a slightly modified version of the popular Vietnamese appetizer, with the shrimps cloaked in cold rice paper wrappers and lumped with carrots and daikon, herbs and baby tomatoes. It’s served with peanut sauce and fish sauce.

Chilled Shrimp
Chilled Shrimp Rice Paper Rolls (PHP 195)

We also ordered Saigon Baguette Banh Mi. It’s the classic Saigon sandwich – a piece of baguette filled with pate, homemade cha lua (Vietnamese pork roll), Vietnamese meatball, shaved ham, pickled carrots and daikon, shaved cucumber and coriander. It tastes fresh and the meats are flavorful, not to mention really filling.

Saigon Baguette Banh Mi (PHP 280)
Saigon Baguette Banh Mi (PHP 280)

Nevertheless, the centerpiece of P.H.A.T. Pho is, well, pho – that quintessential noodle soup that has come to epitomize the Vietnamese kitchen. The restaurant has a few iterations, including the classic Pho Bo (Beef Noodle Soup). We decided to go with the bestseller, though – the Pho Special, which contains flavorful angus beef ribeye, braised beef, tendon, and meatball.

Pho Special (PHP 225)
Pho Special (PHP 225 – small / PHP 395 – large)

As good as the soup base already is, the dish further improves with basil, cilantro and bean sprouts, as well as a dash of hoisin sauce that’s served on a little container that also has a lime wedge and pickled garlic. And if you’re a fan of Sriracha, a dollop of that magical sauce would send you to bliss.

P.H.A.T. Pho
G/F Serendra
Bonifacio Global City
(02) 843 0420
http://theabacagroup.com/phat-pho/

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