Every time someone recommends Vietnamese when dining in Manila, we’re a bit skeptical. In our recent trip to Hanoi, we sampled all kinds of Vietnamese Street Food from pho to spring rolls, and other local specialties. It was disheartening to learn that when we got back to Manila. We couldn’t find the same quality and taste.
We couldn’t understand how this cuisine was overlooked and did not receive the same kind of attention to detail that Chinese or Japanese cooking gets.
Vietnamese food is basically a combination of 5 fundamental tastes, (ngũ vị): spicy (metal), sour (wood), bitter (fire), salty (water) and sweet (earth), corresponding to five organs (ngũ tạng): gall bladder, small intestine, large intestine, stomach, and urinary bladder. Vietnamese Cuisine combines these five elements in perfect balance to produce their dishes. They use fresh ingredients, complimentary textures, meat, and a reliance on herbs and spices to complete the taste. It’s one of the healthiest cuisines worldwide. Their most common ingredients are the fish sauce, shrimp paste, soy sauce, rice, fresh herbs (lemongrass, coriander, mint), and vegetables.
When we first heard on Nha Em, we were not sure on how it was going to be but we kept an open mind and tried their dishes.
Nha Em is in the Sky Park area of SM Aura. They have indoor and al fresco seats available at your pleasure. The décor itself was filled with wooden furnishings and Vietnamese icons hanging on the walls. Reminiscent of a Vietnamese home.
Our Top Picks:
Chả Giò (P305) – Pork and a variety of fresh vegetables rolled and deep fried. Use the lettuce to wrap the roll and dip in the sauce. It’s a sweet-salty mixture that’s sure to keep you hooked.
Phở Bò (P415) – This was one of the highlights of our Hanoi trip, and we’re glad to say, they lived up to the expectation. Beef slices on top a bed of rice noodles and clear beef broth. Add a bunch of fresh mint, basil, beansprouts and a squirt of lime. This heightens the experience and adds different textures and aromas to the dish. You can also add some sriracha if you want it spicy.
Bánh Xèo (P425) – Vietnamese Crepe made with coconut milk and turmeric, filled with an assortment of fresh herbs and shrimp. The proper way to eat this is to slice into it then put it in a piece of lettuce and pour in a bit of their dipping sauce. It’s a nice balance of flavors and varying textures.
Bún Gà Chả Giò (P395) – This particular dish was a newfound favorite in our Vietnam trip, We were curious to see if they could replicate it. We tried the Hanoi version where they serve the soup and meat together and the noodles apart with the vegetables, Nha Em’s version was from Saigon where all elements were in a bowl with just the dipping sauce as separate. We opted to pour in the sauce, the first bite was like going back to Vietnam. Their rice noodles were perfectly thin, silky, and bouncy. Each bite from the bowl had all the elements of the dish we remembered.
Tôm Kho Tảu (P795) – Humongous river prawns on a bed of crab fat. This dish comes with three River prawns, the prawns itself are tender and are perfectly covered with the crab fat. We insist you try this with plain white rice and ask the server to give you more crab fat sauce( It’s FREE!).
Vietnamese Iced Coffee – Strong flavors of the Robusta beans shine thru even with condensed milk added into it. It’s exactly how we remember it. You can even tell your server how strong you’d like your coffee to be.
OUR OVERALL TAKE
Nha Em means “my home” in Vietnamese, and what exactly what they do. They take you to their own home experience. Chef Sam Al-Suhairy and his team were all trained in Ho Chi Min in Vietnam, while all recipes are from his mother. Quality check is implemented by Chef Sam’s mother, to ensure that it’s up to par with her standards. She visits each branch to check, and we say that’s the best test to check for authenticity.
We’re glad to say we’ve finally found an authentic Vietnamese restaurant that was able to assimilate our experience in Vietnam. They bring over ingredients straight from Ho Chi Min to provide diners a taste of what Vietnamese cuisine should be. While it’s on the pricier end, we would gladly spend a little more if it means being able to experience their food once again.
Restaurants change and improve and this review will be obsolete over time. – Yes, this review is biased, but NOT towards the sponsoring restaurant, BUT towards the Fat Girls Day Out’s discerning taste buds, so don’t expect scientific objectivity. Yes, we will always account and prioritize you as- Our Audience. Our Reader.
Disclaimer: Our visit to Nha Em was sponsored, so we wouldn’t be able to validate our CX metrics for this one. What we can offer is our HONEST outtakes from each dish.
- Location: Fifth Floor, SM Aura Premier, C5 Road Corner 26th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City
- Average Spend: 1400php/2 Pax
- Store Hours: 10am-11pm
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