OPEN: Daily 10:00am — 10:00pm
PAYMENT: Cash Only
SEATING: Indoor/Non-Smoking, Outdoor/Smoking
MENU: See Attached PDF, prices and menu as of Sept. 22, 2013
LOCATION: See Map Below
View Pho Hanoi Restaurant in a larger map
The Mystique of Vietnamese Cuisine
Those who have traveled extensively in South East Asia and have made trips to Vietnam usually come back to the Philippines and tell their friends how great the food is. They’ll dazzle you mythical tales of elusive street food carts and restaurants that serve some of the finest delicacies ever produced for less than a dollar…if you can find them. Names, exact locations and what they actually ate elude them as their eyes glaze over and they continue their story gazing in the distance as if in some sort of memory induced food trance.
Once you snap them out of their tranquil dream state you can usually get some basic information and descriptions, but it’s always the same items repeated time and time again:
- Fried and fresh spring rolls
- Some unidentified meat on a stick
- A delicious sandwich with some bar-b-qued meat and vegetables
- Salad that had noodles and meat with a sweet, salty and vinegary taste
You may recognize a few of these items and think you’re making progress, then the person will snap back to their teary eyed dream state of reminiscing and tell you that you just don’t understand…you just don’t understand. These people have been to ‘Nam and have been forever changed.
The Vietnamese Have Arrived in the Philippines
A headline like this in the 60′s and 70′s would have had an entirely different reaction than it does today. On July 19, 2013 Pho Hanoi opened it’s doors in the Korea Town area of Friendship Highway in Angeles City. I ate there two weeks after opening and found it to be a welcome dining addition to this part of town which mostly has Korean restaurants. It was better than I expected for a new restaurant.
My friend Zack and I were out and about one late night searching for a place to get a bite to eat. As we were driving aimlessly trying to decide between Jollibee fast food or driving to the Fields area I casually mentioned that there was a newer Vietnamese place that had opened a few months back. He slammed on the brakes and immediately turned around. Our choice had been made.
Pho Hanoi Food Experience
Pho Hanoi restaurant is a small place with indoor non-smoking and outdoor smoking sections. Their menu is small compared to other places in town, but it has a good selection of appetizers, vermicelli (Bun), noodles, rice and sandwich choices. Our servers brought us out a complimentary sweet, hot , lime flavored tea while we looked through the concise menu. The server told us the restaurant is owned by a Vietnamese person and assured us that everything was authentically prepared.
- Cha Gio — Fried spring rolls
- Bun Ga Nuong Cha Gio — Vermicelli noodle salad with spring roll
- Pho Hanoi — Combination pho
- Banh Mi Sandwich — Bar-b-que chicken sanwich
The Cha Gio arrived first. Six pieces of tightly wrapped, stout, pork filled rolls with a sweet and sour dipping sauce. The rice paper gives the spring roll a crisp outside and slightly chewy inside. I’ve had spring rolls with thinner wrappers, but I liked the thicker texture of these.
Our main courses arrived soon after and I thought the presentation of my Bun Ga Nuong Cha Gio was beautiful and I couldn’t wait to dig into this unique dish. I hardly knew where to start. I wondered if I should add some of the chili sauces that were on the table, mix the whole thing up or eat a little portion of noodle, lettuce, spring roll and meat separately. I ended up giving everything a light toss and then got a little of each ingredient on my fork.
The taste of this dish was incredible! It was crunchy, savory, spicy, salty and sweet all at the same time and all the different textures were unique. I knew immediately that I’d found my go-to Vietnamese food dish. Near the end I added some of the chili sauces just to see how they would affect the taste. My conclusion was that this dish is great without any additional sauces unless you love your food super spicy.
Quick note — Pho Hanoi is selling their homemade chili oil sauce. Our lovely and friendly waitress models with a jar that I believe is available for 250 Peso.
Zack’s Pho Hanoi looked a little underwhelming. I had tried a small bowl of the pho on my first visit and felt the same way then. For the large portion at $6.00 it looked small. It was nothing like the large, overflowing, steaming bowls of noodle pho I’d eaten in Los Angeles Vietnamese restaurants and his side vegetables looked wilted and sparse. Zack also felt that there wasn’t nearly enough noodles (an extra portion is available for an additional charge of approximately $1.35). It did have several meat ingredients that looked appetizing and Zack had no problem eating it all. Overall he felt the broth, meats and noodles were very tasty. Unfortunately pho does not appear to be the star dish at Pho Hanoi.
But all was not lost! We still had the Banh Mi bar-b-que chicken sandwich which I graciously offered to share. Fortunately for me, Zack declined. Having only heard of the famous Banh Mi sandwich I was anxious to sink my teeth into it. I was not disappointed. The crusty yet soft bread had soaked up the various unfamiliar sauces they put on it and all of the vegetables were very crisp. The bar-b-qued chicken was the perfect amount for the size of the sandwich and was spicy and delicious. For $3.40 I thought this was a fantastic value for the money and one of the best sandwiches I’ve had in the Philippines. When I’m dying for a sandwich and the nearest Subway is 30 to 45 minutes drive away, I’m heading to Pho Hanoi for this sandwich.
Overall I was extremely pleased with my meal as a whole. I enjoyed every dish I ordered and would order all of them again. Zack was slightly disappointed, but not enough to nix the place on a go back. I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t order the pho again and we both agreed that it’s not up to the high standard that we expected for the price. But the menu has enough other items that are reasonably priced. My suggestion is to start off with an appetizer and order 2 or 3 (depending on the number in your party) other items to get a taste of everything and share them family style.
Our total bill came in at 775 Peso (approximately $17.75) with tip. Zack’s Pho Hanoi pho was the most expensive and most disappointing of the items we ordered. If you took that out of the equation I think there is good value for your money here and it’s a unique cuisine that (surprisingly) isn’t easily found in the Philippines. But that is changing fast.
More New Arrivals
Pho Hanoi now has some competition in Angeles City as another Vietnamese (allegedly owned by a different Vietnamese person) has opened in the new shopping complex across the street from Jollibee in an area commonly called Checkpoint. We’ll be checking them out soon for a full review. I’ve also heard rumors of yet another Vietnamese restaurant soon to open but don’t have any other details as of this writing. Finally I’ve also heard whispers of a Vietnamese restaurant located somewhere in Angeles City Proper that has been open for years. It seems as though the Vietnamese are finally gaining some ground on the culinary battlefield here in Angeles City.