Phat Pho Manila is a collaboration between the Abaca Group from Cebu and the Moment Group whose restaurants include Cue Modern Barbecue, NamNam, Burger Bar and 8 Cuts. Phat Pho is a popular Vietnamese joint in Cebu, small but always teeming with people. My friend was supposed to bring me there last time I was in Cebu but our schedules just did not jive. The y formally opened to the public on Feb. 12, 2014 at 6pm but I was able to get a sneak taste of their Vietnamese food offerings.
Located in Serendra Plaza, beside Wee Name Kee and across Abe.
The place is small, it can probably seat at most 30 people, with all chairs being bar stools. The best seats for me are the ones facing Serendra Plaza and the ones at the bar, where you can observe the chefs bustling around. Those red chairs are really nice and eye catching. Open the doors and a confluence of smells hits you, freshly chopped herbs, fragrant broth and grilled meats combine to tempt you.
Irene and I were seated at the bar area overlooking the chefs preparing serving after serving. For a place this small, they sure do have a lot of staff in the kitchen.
We had a number of appetizers, the first of which was a sampler of their Goi Cuon or rice paper rolls. We had one piece each of the Slow Roasted Pork (P175), Chilled Shrimp (P195) and Marinated Tofu (P165). My favorite was the slow roasted pork followed by the marinated tofu, even I could not believe it. It comes with two sauces, one is peanut based and the other is fish sauce/patis based. The rolls are delicate but packed to the brim, with lots of flavors and different textures to excite your palate.
Next up was the Crispy Egg Rolls (P120/3pcs, P195/5). It’s made with minced meat, minced shrimps and vermicelli. It was so packed that we could hardly detect the vermicelli, which was good since many places use that as a cheap filler. Fried with no oily residue and served with tasty pickles on the side to cleanse the palate.
After the rice roll sampler, we got another sampler, a plate of different Satays. Pork Belly Satay (P130/3 pcs., P215/5 pcs.), Chicken Satay (P130/3 pcs., P215/5pcs.) and Angus Beef Satay (P210/ 3 pcs., P345/5 pcs.). All three of the satays had lots of garlic and scallions but the pork had extra lemongrass while the chicken had 5 spice powder. Those added ingredients gave it an edge over the beef for me.
A bowl of Vietnamese Meatballs (P195) which was bathed in a scallion, coriander and chili broth. I actually thought this was super spicy what with the waitstaff’s warning. I warily got one piece and found out that I could tolerate it. The meatballs made with beef, spices and vermicelli is meaty to the bite and is actually quite heavy.
On to the pho, the dish that is closely associated with Vietnamese cuisine. Irene ordered the only non beef pho they have on the menu, Pho Ga (P185/small, P320/large), a classic Vietnamese chicken soup. Their pho already has the beansprouts, onions and other herbs are already in the bowl, the only remaining thing you can do to customize it is to add hoisin (sweet), lime or pickled garlic (sour), sriracha (spicy) or fish sauce (salty). Irene got the small and was slurping all the noodles in no time. She told me that she’ll be ordering the large next time to have more noodles. Irene is hoping they add a seafood pho int he future.
I got the Pho Special (P225/small, P395/large). This beef broth pho comes with shaved US Angus beef, meatballs, tendon and braised beef. Even though I don’t eat tendon, I slurped everything down, there’s lots of vegetables anyway to balance things out. The broth was light yet had lots of flavor, each sip leading to the next. I would have wanted more beansprouts for more crunch in between the soft, chewy noodles. I like the braised beef and shaved beef. Maybe next time around I’ll ask them to put those ingredients only.
Since we each only had a small bowl of pho, we were a bit “bitin” so we ordered the fried rice on the recommendation of Maita Q. It was surprisingly addictive. The Com Chien (P295) is Vietnamese fried rice with chicken and prawns. It is covered with lots of fried scallions giving it a slight crunch but lots of explosive flavor. The rice really one of things that might be overlooked in the menu but do so and regret it.
Here’s the menu of Phat Pho Manila, although this one only covers the food. The prices are exactly the same as the ones in Cebu, so quite good for us here in Manila.
Irene and I had a photastic time at Phat Pho Manila and we are already planning on going back to try more stuff. Phat Pho Manila is already on my list of best restaurant opening of the year, that’s how much I enjoyed it. You’ll be seeing a lot more of their dishes on my Instagram.