Va Pho: Not just pho show
Trudging up six flights of stairs to reach the two-week-old Va Pho (their lift is still under construction), a new Pan Asian restaurant, seems worth it. The interiors of the 70-seater are bright and quirky with surreal artwork inspired from different parts of Asia. A colourful tuk-tuk at the entrance doubles up as a photo booth where customers can also give instant feedback by honking the horn if they are satisfied with their meal. We take our seats near an open kitchen, where the chefs are busy, whipping up street food signatures from across Asia.
Chef Ram Kumar, who was integral in crafting the menu of Thai restaurant Benjarong, (also under Oriental Cuisines) is the brain behind this one too. “We focussed on street food because Va Pho is for youngsters. Everything here, from the décor to the food, and even the name of the restaurant is casual,” informs the chef, as the refreshing Rangoon Princess arrives (in upcycled alcohol bottles) — a lychee, guava, and lemon mix with a dash of grenadine syrup. The Yummy Creamy, a thick mango lassi is interesting with a touch of chilli. For a Pan-Asian-meets-Madras experience, we recommend the Royale Madras (tender coconut juice, peaches with a touch of cinnamon and lemon juice), a real thirst quencher.
We opt for the Saigon Pho, which we are told is the national soup of Vietnam. The beef version of the fragrant broth has chunks of meat, mixed up with some well-done noodles, making for a wholesome starter. Vegetarians can relish the crunchy Kam Heaong Broccoli (Malay-style crispy broccoli tossed in curry leaves), or the unique Vietnamese Banana Blossom Salad, a heady mix of finely shredded banana blossoms in a sweet chilli dressing. Seafood lovers must try the Sizzling Prawns with bakchoy in black bean sauce.
The ramen empire
We take a break between our courses to play a game of Jenga at our table. As the foot-long Jenga tower collapses, we ignore a game of Monopoly when the Bi Bim Bap (a Korean dish of ramen, with assorted veggies), arrives at our table, all colourful and bursting with flavour. We also sample the Lhoti-Massaman, a nutty massaman chicken curry served with Malabar parotta, one of the few dishes on the menu, which has Indian influences. From the dessert options, it is the Tender Coconut Ice Cream Stick, served in a bowl of coconut cream and water chestnut that has us reaching for more.
At Cathedral Road. A meal for two would cost: Rs 700 onwards. Details: 48566555