Puerto Princesa was once the home of Vietnamese refugees, so that explains the number of restaurants serving pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) in the city. However, here it’s called chaolong, which in Vietnam is actually rice porridge with pork offal. Misnomer aside, the clutch of Vietnamese eateries here serve arguably some of the most delicious steaming bowls of noodles you’ll have this side of the South China (or the West Philippine) Sea.

Beef with Noodles (Regular PHP 50 / Special PHP 55), Beef Stew with Noodles (Regular PHP 50 / Special PHP 55), French Bread with Pork (Regular PHP 25 / Special PHP 30)

For accessible and Filipinized version of pho, follow the locals and head to Bona’s Chaolong Haus in Manalo Street. The beef noodles and beef stew noodles taste a lot like instant beef mami, which personally isn’t a bad thing. Health-conscious diners, though, will definitely scoff at the use of MSG. At any rate, it’s perfect for a cheap meal and the place is a really great way to take in local sights and sounds.

The ones served at the Viet Ville Restaurant are more authentic. This modest dining place owned by former Vietnamese refugees — its dim-lighted interiors decorated with paintings of people in traditional Vietnamese outfits — is in the premises of the desolate Viet Ville outside Puerto Princesa city proper on the way to the Sabang Underground River. On a Sunday afternoon, only the three of us are in the area, along with the server, and give or take a couple of souls outside.

The village used to be home to 1,500 Vietnamese, but most have since left and the handful that remain don’t seem to be interested in making the place more inviting than it currently looks. The place wouldn’t seem out of place from a set of a post-apocalyptic movie.

After exploring the area, we head to the restaurant. The French bread is a favorite here. The crunchy exterior with chewy inside serve as a great starter before digging into a bowl flavored with scallions, cilantro, garlic, onions, charred ginger and a tender beef in the long-boiled broth.

Viet Ville Restaurant
Barangay Sta. Lourdes,
Puerto Princesa, Palawan

Bona’s Chaolong Haus
Manalo St,
Puerto Princesa, Palawan

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