Pho Hoa wins over Pho Bac

Sometimes, I get confused with these Pho restaurants. We used to frequent a Pho restaurant at the Glorietta and I think that was Pho Bac, the same restaurant with a branch at Robinson’s Galleria.

Yesterday, we had lunch at Pho Hoa at Eastwood City and it wasn’t until the spring rolls were served that I realized we weren’t at a branch of the Pho restaurant at Glorietta and Galleria. But it wasn’t a bad thing, actually, since I was able to compare the food. The conclusion? Overall, Pho Hoa serves better food than Pho Bac.

Let’s start with the spring rolls because this was the only exception to the conclusion I had drawn.

Below is a photo of the spring rolls at Pho Hoa. Rice noodles and diced grilled pork wrapped in rice paper. It was good — very good, actually, and we especially loved the dipping sauce which tasted like a mixture of peanut butter and hoisin sauce. I was even able to get a customized serving. The regular item included shrimps among the ingredients but since I am allergic to shrimps, the waiter informed me that they could take out the shrimps altogether which made me very happy indeed.

Good as Pho Hoa’s spring rolls were, I prefer Pho Bac’s spring rolls better with the softened rice paper and bits of browned garlic. But that’s where Pho Bac’s superiority ends.

Pho Hoa’s bowl of noodles was much, much better. Sliced romaine lettuce formed the base for this dry noodle dish. The rice noodles are placed on top of the greens and all the rest are arranged on top of the noodles — strips of grilled pork, shredded carrots, chopped peanuts, achara (pickled green papaya), julienned cucumber, sweet fried onions, chopped green onions and a few pieces of fried spring rolls. Everything in the bowl was just delicious. The pork was moist and tender, the vegetables were fresh and crisp, the noodles were soft but not soggy (oversoaking and/or repeated blanching in hot water can make them soggy). A regular serving (P175.00) was more than enough for me.

The girls each had a plate of grilled chicken and fried rice, served with fried spring rolls as well. I tried a piece of chicken and, like the pork in my bowl of noodles, the chicken was moist and tender.

In comparison, the rice meals at Pho Bac — like the mixed seafood curry, the caramelized pork with crab omelet and the sweet and sour fish — seemed ordinary and unexciting.

My husband had beef stew which came with buttered bread. The beef was tender but, aside from a small piece of beef, I can’t say anything about the overall beef stew experience because I was too busy attacking my bowl of noodles.

The bill was P1,030 for the four meals, the spring rolls and drinks for the kids.

  • http://lilkanchiu.blogspot.com/ mika

    Mmmm… pho hoa! I love their caramelized chicken drumlettes.

    Try asking for their (sweet) vinegar sauce for the spring rolls instead of the paste. YUM! Makes a huge difference for me.

  • http://intentiontotreat.blogspot.com Em Dy

    Thanks for the recommendation. I haven’t tried both but pass Pho Hoa all the time. Hesitant to try because it might be expensive and not to my liking. Looks masarap from your post, will try it one of these days.

  • http://homecookingrocks.com Connie

    mika, that was what i had with my noodles. :)

    Em, considering the large servings and the quality of the food, very reasonable yung prices.

  • http://carolfinds.blogspot.com carol

    I love Pho Hoa, too! I’ve always wanted to try the Banh Mi (Vietnamese sandwich) but I never do because I always have to have the Pho, and the spring rolls. Aside from Eastwood, I like going to the Galleria branch, which has free wi-fi. One Pho place I want to try is Pho 24 in Powerplant Mall, which is a franchise of the Vietnam chain. I hope it is just as good. It’s named Pho 24 because each bowl has 24 ingredients (including spices).

  • http://www.gobaguio.com Lisa

    Kung Pao Chicken (spicy with peanuts), Pho Bo Kho (beef stew), Pomelo Shrimp Salad . . .

    Kasi someone keeps skipping the amiga reunions. we usually meet at Pho Hoa at Eastwood (because Laly loves it) then dessert at Jack’s Loft (same owners, they’re beside each other pa and the al fresco areas merge).

    Pho Bac on the other hand, is owned by Jeanne Menguito (Ms Saigon, Rolling Pin, Gloria Maris), who is French Vietnamese. She hand-fed me roll-your-own spring rolls once (must be the style back home) and I was in heaven!

  • http://www.xautogear.com noemi

    vietnamese noodle soup is sooooo good……………… they even have pho noodles soup specialty restaurant where they only sell the noodles with different toppings. oh yummy!

  • http://homecookingrocks.com Connie

    Carol, we almost went to Pho 24 last time we were at Powerplant. Too bad we went to Kenny Rogers instead. Waste of money.

    Lisa, Sam insisted on dessert at Jack’s Loft after the Pho Hoa lunch but we were so full. We went to Dairy Queen, watched a movie then had sort of a merienda cena at Jack’s Loft. No dessert because we found ourselves too full again hahaha

    noemi, the noodle soups were the only things i ordered when we used to go to the glorietta place. good thing i’ve graduated from noodle soups — i haven’t yet tried a vietnamese dish that i didn’t like. :)

  • noemi

    i agree connie.

  • http://kwentongwalangkwenta.blogspot.com auee

    I can only sigh every time you post your reviews. At the back of my mind I always have a “sana” or a “pag-uwi ko” but I know I won’t get to try all the places you’ve given a thumbs up to. So dawdaw na lang ako. Kakagutom tuloy.

  • Ebba

    Ako mang-iingit sa inyo – - here in Houston we have a large or rather huge Vietnamese community; and the restaurant are all over, they compete with each other. Soup restaurant are actually beside each other, same with French Vietnamese Bakery which specialize with Banh Mi, and it cost only $1.50 for the regular and $2.00 for the barbecue meat filling. Oh, and the pepper crabs and chili shrimps. With the Vietnamese population explosion here, Oriental Supermarket sprung up too, and the produce dept. are so abundant with herbs, fruits, veggies that I have not seen in my life. In the meat and seafood section – its the same story, innards used to be not sold, they are now an ordinary site. Same with different seafood and meat “balls” ready to be fried. I love Vietnamese food and its really a treat to be able to have them in my grasp.

  • http://homecookingrocks.com Connie

    auee, i’ll make a list of “must try” for visiting balikbayans hehehe

    Ebba, you succeeded — kainggit!!! :razz:

  • http://kwentongwalangkwenta.blogspot.com auee

    Yes please! I & the rest of the visiting Pinoy-foodies/makati-talampakan will surely appreciate that!

  • http://homecookingrocks.com Connie

    naku, auee, tataba kayo hahaha

  • mareza

    wow the food really looks great,tried making that spring roll with srimp, the husband loved it.i think i have to adjust my version coz my veggies are cut a lot bigger and will try to experiment with the sauce. of course i love vietnamese , thai and indonesian food.yum..

  • Nikita

    Pho Hoa is the restaurant I think of when I want to eat “comfort food”. The food is good and “healthy” eating pa dahil mostly grilled and soup-based. Even their fried spring rolls aren’t oily. Am really happy they opened a branch in Paseo Center in Makati, right beside the building where I work. :-)

  • http://foodtrip.blogspot.com shella

    i thought the best place is pho hoa when it comes to vietnamese, pho bac just doesn’t cut it. i recently ate at pho24 and the noodles and seafood are superb. they have a branch at the block too.

  • misao

    i love pho hoa’s spicy squids with salt, pepper and chilis (i forgot what it’s called) and most of their phos!

    i have a vietnamese friend who studied here in manila. she told me that most vietnamese restaurants here don’t have that authentic taste, but, according to her, pho hoa comes closest among them all.

  • http://angdiyosa.blogspot.com Pie

    Pho hoa is indeed the better one! My husband and I consider Pho hoa our fave (foreign) resto — their noodle soups, grilled chicken, drumettes and sizzling beef rice are our comfort food. I tried Pho bac with some friends (my hubby never dared eat Vietnamese unless it’s Pho hoa). Their fresh iced tea is also so refreshing but my friends liked their pressed coffee the best! Both my Mom and MIL like their watermelon shake. Obviously, Pho hoa has become a family place. Kaka-miss doubletime tuloy! Now that I’m here in Japan, I miss my family, and yes, Pho hoa!!!!

  • http://docchef.blogspot.com jeff

    pho hua’s quality has remain the same throughout the years…

  • http://stupidjoy.multiply.com joy

    hello there, this site is great.
    drop by to ask if i can combine cream of mushroom soup and the regular cream in a pork tenderloin dish. Better yet, does anyone knows a dish that has tenderlin, cream of mushroom and nestle cream on it? Please do email me if you have an answer! Thank You!

  • Ebba Myra

    My spouse and I just ate at Pho Hoa here in Houston, and at their menu, they listed the branches they have in the Philippines. What’s interesting is that they don’t have the drummettes ya’ll are talking about. Ummm, alam kaya nila mahilig ang Pinoy sa chicken legs talaga. Anyway, the place is nice, they broth is great, pero limited nga lang ang noodles and meat that they use in their soup; compare talaga sa numerous Vietnamese restaurant here, sus… kulang ang letter-size paper (3 pages) menu. Kaya nga pwede kaming palipat-lipat eh. Yon nga lang, in Pho Hoa here, the servers speaks English, so hindi nahihirapan ang husband ko. And the herbs too, cilantro, bean sprout and mint lang ang gamit nila, unlike in other joints which serves lemon grass, basil, 3 kinds of mint, chinese celery, native vietnamese kangkong, slivers of spiced carrots, pineapple, jalapeno, plus chopped peanuts and roasted garlic. Sarap talaga, at mura pa.

  • Si

    Vietnamese food are good for health and can help you to lose weight! ;) but almost of Viet restaurant here in the Philippines are not the origin and it’s too expensive when compare to the same one in Vietnam.

  • ella

    hmmmmm. everytime i visit the malls in ortigas, im always looking for a vietnamese resto. i love their beef noodles —> which is called phó bo and the fresh spring rolls which is called goicoun in vietnamese, i love the vietnamese crepe too, called banh xeo. sad to say not all resto can make the nice banh xeo like the one i’ve ever tasted from vietnamese resto in robinsons ermita. we’ve got lots of vietnamese friends here in denmark now and i’ve learned how to make this phó bo and goicoun at home, every weekends this is what ive always wanted to make :D

  • Nico

    I have tried Pho Hoa, actually I’m not a fan of Viet food. A friend from Seattle WA suggested me to try this resto and I remember that we’ve got Pho Hoa in Eastwood and tried it.

    No hesitance, the food is great. I like their noodles and the spring rolls. And there iced tea version.

    Cost for a 1 person: P500.00 (incl. Pho noodles, spring rolls and iced tea)

  • http://walnuttart.multiply.com ge’ morales

    thanks for the post. i love vietnamese food! a bit of trivia for you guys: i read that the pho bac restaurant in manila is more inclined towards northern vietnamese cuisine, while pho hoa is more into southern vietnamese cuisine.

  • hien

    nakakahiya mang aminin, i don’t eat a lot at home these days. my vietnamese boyfriend always cooks for me (lunch and dinner). he is so good in cooking, i can’t help asking him to cook everyday. my favorite dishes of him are pho bo (beef noodles), thit heo kho trung (braised pork in caramel sauce), spring rolls, and bo kho (beef stew). nahilig din ako sa gulay dahil sa kanya. hindi nakakauyam yung gulay unlike sa filipino dishes satin.

    • Betots

      hi hien. I would like to ask a little favor since you have a vietnamese boyfriend. I would truly appreciate it if you can ask him how to make the salad dressing in Pho Hoa’s Pomelo Shrimp salad, which taste like sweetened balsamic vinegar. Just last night, we went over at SM North to eat at Pho Hoa’s. please do really teach me,craving for it so badly….

  • Vy

    Hi guys, i’m a Vietnamese staying in Manila, just randomly read this post and i feel so proud of what being stated above :D. For authentic Pho bo I strongly recommend u too try in Pho Bac Glorieta they have Viet chef there and she’s from Hanoi-the most well-known place for Pho.I tried to eat Pho in all Viet restaurants here but it’s just ok lang,still far away from my own cookings LOL

  • jason

    you won’t be able to know what’s authentic vietnamese cuisine if you have not visited vietnam or grew up in a vietnamese community. judging the dishes based on solely how your taste buds react does not mean you know what you’re talking about. pho hoa might taste better to you but is it the closest to vietnamese cooking? comparing the 2 restaurants you’ve mentioned, pho bac is closer.

    • http://casaveneracion.com/ Connie Veneracion

      Was there anything in the post that sets AUTHENTICITY as a standard? Read the post again, and please try to UNDERSTAND it before commenting again, so you would KNOW what you’re talking about.

      Even in Vietnam itself, every dish has a version and cooking in the north is so different from the south. So, you were saying something about authenticity? Define that in the context of every Vietnamese cook’s version of dishes.

      You sound like someone I know who vacationed in Australia for a few weeks and came home speaking with more Aussie twang than the Aussies. Contrived, of course.