Pho Street: Take a Trip to Vietnam

Amanda and her Creative Director, AT (aka the hubby) attended a media tasting at Pho Street, Bedok Mall, to mark the launch of the restaurant's new Vietnamese street food menu last week.

Having grown up in Sydney, which has a colourful Vietnamese community, I often find myself hankering for a steaming fresh bowl of pho, pork chop broken rice and spring rolls. Having been unimpressed with other Vietnamese restaurants in Singapore, I was pleasantly surprised when I tried Pho Street at Bedok Mall for the first time. 

True to its mission statement to provide an authentic Vietnamese street food experience, the new menu features a range of delicious "snack" style items, together with traditional classics (beef pho, pork chop rice and banh mi). Having eaten our way through almost every item on the menu, we really have to applaud Pho Street for its authentic flavours, consistent quality and super friendly service.

Our meal started with a bang, courtesy of the unique (and new) beverages - he had the Lemon Cooler with Peppermint and Basil and I had the Passionfruit and Basil Mojito (SG$3.50 each). Both drinks were amazingly refreshing, with plenty of fresh mint and basil leaves, the perfect accompaniment to the onslaught of delectable fried foods to come.

The highlight of Pho Street for me was the Vietnamese street snacks. The Fresh Summer Rolls with Prawn, Pork Belly and Fresh Herbs (SG$4.90) was a good rendition of this familiar dish. The accompanying sauce is a pungent assault on the senses; we are told it is made in-house by the chef. 

Next up is the Vietnamese Snack Platter (SG$8.90), which consists of roasted chicken skewers, crispy fried pork roll and Vietnamese crab cakes. The chicken skewers are tender and moist with a hint of spice. If you want to up the ante, dip these in the accompanying chilli sauce for a flavour-packed mouthful. (I especially appreciated that the chicken pieces were not the fatty leftover pieces you sometimes see passed off as satay.) The fried pork roll lives up to its name and is perfectly crispy, and the crabcakes were good (though not as good as the other two!) with a sweet/chilli dipping sauce.

Just when I thought the snacks couldn't get any better, we were served the Sesame Rice Crackers with Minced Meat and Spices Dip (SG$6.90). This was the stand-out dish of the night. We were informed that the sesame rice crackers are imported straight from Vietnam, so they are pretty unique for Singapore. The meat and spices dip was full of great flavours - juicy pork, lemongrass, onions, chilli oil, ginger, and a kick of curry powder. An amazing combination with the light crunch of the sesame crackers.

To round off the snacks, we had the Crispy Fried Mid-Wings served with Caramelised Sweet Dip (SG$4.90). The batter on the chicken wings was incredibly light; when asked we were told it is done with potato starch. The wings were a decent size, and went so well with the dipping sauce. The chef advised that in Vietnam, the sauce would be mixed with the chicken wings, but Pho Street have chosen to serve the sauce on the side so customers can test out the intensity of the flavours. The sauce is really good, with a lovely caramel-sticky consistency and a hint of black pepper.

Moving onto the main courses, we began with the Pho Beef Combination (SG$9.90). This comes with beef slices, beef balls, beef shank, beef tendons and beef tripe. The broth was subtle but had all the flavour notes I was looking for, including fresh mint and bean sprouts. The beef slices were cut super thin (as they should be), and the tendons, tripe and collagen added textural interest to the dish. I only wished the beef balls were home-made instead of the commercial ones. 

This was followed by the Roasted Pork Chop with Fragrant Rice (SG$7.90). While the flavours of the dish were good, we both felt that the pork chop itself was slightly too dry. The crunchy pickled carrots and radish on the side were also tasty (and not overly vinegary).

The last "main" we tasted was the Banh Mi Combination (SG$6.90), which comes with pork belly, grilled beef and chicken ham. Note Pho Street's rendition does not come with the traditional pate (to the hubby's disappointment). We were informed that this omission was a deliberate decision by management, based on the customer feedback received. That aside, the bread roll had the requisite crunch but was also soft and chewy at the same time. (I asked if the bread was made in-house, and was advised that while the bread was made outside, Pho Street supplied the recipe.) While perhaps not strictly authentic, this was one well made sandwich which I would come back for!

There is always room for dessert, and we had the Cream of Mung Bean with Coconut Sauce and Crushed Peanuts (SG$3.50). I hadn't come across this flavour combination before, and was instantly intrigued. The texture of the dessert was similar to a smoothie, and while the mung bean flavour might be an acquired taste, it was a refreshing palate cleanser after a hearty meal. 

Overall, the revamped menu offers a great selection of Vietnamese street food, and the execution and service are stellar. In addition to the amazing food, the menu is also incredibly good value, which also lends authenticity to the street food experience.

Behind the new menu is Chef Ha Vi Cang (Kenny) from Ho Chi Minh. Kudos to Chef Kenny for taking our tastebuds on an exciting journey with vibrant flavours from his home town! While we were unable to communicate very well (Chef Kenny speaks Vietnamese and Mandarin but not English, and AT and I struggle with our Chinese), it was clear that the chef imparts good humour and care into each of his dishes.

To try Pho Street for yourself, head to:

#B1-40, Bedok Mall
311 New Upper Changi Road

3 Gateway Drive

Thank you to Mei Ping, Chef Kenny and Select Group for hosting us at Pho Street, Bedok Mall. 
xx Amanda


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