Re-dis­cov­er­ing Yan­gon’s best known Viet­namese

ZUZAKAR KALAUNG

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Weekend|foodreview -

WHEN Golden Pho on Yaw Min Gyi closed its doors your in­trepid re­porter lamented the loss of what had been a re­li­able and mostly en­joy­able lo­cal spot for qual­ity Viet­namese grub. From then un­til just this week it had not come to his at­ten­tion that Golden Pho had a newer out­let at Sule Square and an­other restau­rant proper over­look­ing the eastern por­tion of Kan­daw­gyi Lake. For this weeks culi­nary out­ing, it was de­cided with a group of com­rades that we would visit this restau­rant lo­ca­tion to catch up on all the de­li­cious Viet­namese food we had been miss­ing out on these past six months (re­al­is­ti­cally there was no choice in the mat­ter, Zuzakar does not de­base him­self by eat­ing in malls). Hence, we en­thu­si­as­ti­cally agreed to dive back in.

Ar­riv­ing to this Golden Pho, which is lo­cated a few doors south of The Esper­ado Ho­tel, your re­porter was ini­tially im­pressed by the clean, open ap­pear­ance and bright sig­nage. Upon en­ter­ing the group was ush­ered up­stairs and found the in­te­rior to be neat and tidy, but in terms of mood, not ter­ri­bly warm. This did not de­ter us, how­ever, since we al­ready had a good idea of what we wanted to or­der and were ex­cited to get our old favourites once again. Menus de­liv­ered, we re­flected that the mu­sic they were play­ing in­side the restau­rant, EDM and pop from 2015, was not con­ducive, and the staff were kind enough to let your re­porter put on his own mu­sic, an easy lis­ten­ing - jazz com­pen­dium that earned a silent ‘thank you’ nod from a fel­low diner.

Get­ting right to the heat of the meat, we or­dered a rice pa­per roll shar­ing plate and a pork and prawn salad for the ta­ble to nib­ble on fol­lowed by three pho bo soups (beef) and one bun cha (hand food with noo­dles to be wrapped in greens and soup for dip­ping). A cou­ple of fruit juices ar­rived which were re­ported to be of good qual­ity.

First to ar­rive were the rice pa­per rolls – which, first up, are your re­porter’s favourite snack from this es­tab­lish­ment. In­side the neatly wrapped rice pa­per you will find ei­ther beef or prawn fill­ing with co­rian­der, a lit­tle mint, let­tuce and ver­mi­celli noo­dles. Now – these in com­bi­na­tion are re­ally for the tex­ture, which is at once bouncy and crunchy fresh but with the soft sinew of the meat. The flavour comes from the sauces which are de­liv­ered with the rolls. One is a stan­dard sweet-chilli and the other is a more sour note peanut based dip­ping sauce. Both are quite lovely and take this sim­ple dish from not sim­ply be­ing a healthy snack but a de­li­cious, deeply moor­ish sta­ple of any visit to Golden Pho. There was a fried beef spring roll served along­side which was also quite de­li­cious – dif­fer­ent from the usual veg­etable fair, it made a good im­pres­sion.

Next to ar­rive was the pork and prawn salad, which was larger than ex­pected but proved a good size for four hun­gry gents. This salad is loaded with prawn and thinly sliced pork tossed over with shred­ded car­rot, more co­rian­der, let­tuce, peanuts and a sauce that is tangy but, truth be told, too sweet for more than a small por­tion. Your re­porter re­alises that sugar, spice and sour notes are key to Viet­namese cui­sine but sal­ads, sim­ply, should not be this rich. One must sus­pect the kitchen is over­do­ing it. This also seems to af­fect the bahn mi pork, which is mar­i­nated and then bar­be­cued and is sim­i­larly over­pow­er­ing (for a bahn mi rec­om­men­da­tion, see the write up on Great Sand­wich).

So, it should be said, the salad came to be a bit over­pow­er­ing and left a shadow over what was sup­posed to be the big event – the pho soup.

The pho bos proved to be a rea­son­able dish of noo­dles, beef, leaves, sprouts, lime, chilli and a va­ri­ety of forms of beef all in a hot, fresh, only lightly salted broth. Phos are a fan­tas­tic and sim­ple dish from the streets of Viet­nam that will fill you up and get you feel­ing warm but with no resid­ual heav­i­ness or too much fat. The leaves and sprouts were crisp and crunchy, curled in with soft hot noo­dles. The beef was ac­tu­ally of a de­cent qual­ity and com­pli­mented well while not be­ing over-present.

The fourth mem­ber who had or­dered the bun cha was pleased with the in­ter­est­ing ar­ray of do-it-your­self in­gre­di­ents, with the idea be­ing that one takes meat, vegeta­bles, chilli and noo­dles and wraps it up in let­tuce be­fore adding meat from a broth and us­ing the soup for dip­ping or to drink as a com­pli­ment. it’s a fun dish for peo­ple who like fin­ger food. As pointed out, how­ever, the meat can be quite sweet, so be sure you en­joy that pro­file be­fore order­ing, or you can do your best to bal­ance it with lots of chilli and lime.

The end of the pho re­ally had ev­ery­one at the ta­ble reel­ing. We’d done well on fill­ing our­selves up and spent an­other ten min­utes con­vers­ing be­fore pack­ing it in and go­ing next door to the Esper­ado for a drink in the bar. On that note, if you do go to Golden Pho, pop your head into the ho­tel and see the mag­nif­i­cent view it of­fers of the lake, com­plete with the gaudy and re­splen­dent cen­tral Ba­mar boat-restau­rant. The space at the Esper­ado is not worth writ­ing home about, but the view goes a long way.

.......................................................................... Golden Pho is lo­cated at 23 U Aung Myat Rd, Min­galar Taung Nyunt town­ship, or in­side Sule Square (for those who dine in malls). Reser­va­tions: 01 861 9194

Rice pa­per rolls en masse.

Ex­am­ple of a dry bowl.

Pho­tos: Sup­plied

A pho bo.

In­te­rior, up­stairs.

Salad sans meats.

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