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 […]
It has all the beautiful textured disarray you see in movies, a remarkable food culture that will introduce you to new and unusual combinations of flavors. With the just right amount of English where you still need to struggle to get around and to actually feel that you are traveling.
The rainy season has come. To most that mean jackets, umbrellas, flood, and cooler weather. To me, that means soup weather. I have a peeve where I associate certain seasons with a certain type of food. It can be compared to how the fruits in vegetables in season.
One of my favorite kinds of soup is pho, pho is a Vietnamese soup, typically made from beef stock and spices to which rice noodles are added topped with thinly sliced beef or chicken. It’s also served with greens namely, scallions, bean sprouts, cilantro, mint and other herbs with a slice of lime. It is also customary to serve fresh cut chili on the table. It is so satisfying to have a warm bowl of pho, while it’s cool out. There is just something about the rain, that makes me crave this meal. It’s an instinct hard to fight off, but so easy to give in to.
On a random Wednesdasday rainy night, we were driving around Makati in search for a good bowl of Phở along San Antonio Village. As it gets too saturated to be where most of the crowds were at that time probably around the Ayala Center locations we wanted to hang out somewhere quieter and more laid back. We remembered planning to try out this Vietnamese restaurant we’ve been randomly passed by whenever we go to our favorite Kansi restaurant Pat Pat’s .
Vina Trung started as a small neighborhood Vietnamese restaurant, with the warm reception that they received from the locals they have decided to expand their restaurant to another nearby location. Literally just across the street.
Vina Trung started as a small neighborhood Vietnamese restaurant, with the warm reception that they received from the locals they have decided to expand their restaurant to another nearby location. After having a bit of trouble finding the restaurant, we finally get into the elevator to take us to this pho haven. The moment you enter the door, you’re welcomed by the smell of the familiar Vietnamese herbs, the smell of basil, cilantro, mint, star anise and basil wafting in the air.
The restaurant has an indoor and an al fresco section. We chose to sit outside since Vina Trung is located at the top floor, the view outside is quite a sight. Perfect for having a hot bowl of pho whilst it’s drizzling outside.
Goi Cuon (Fresh Spring Rolls)
Their fresh spring rolls are served with a peanut sauce on the side. The size is average, and there is a fair amount of shrimp and vegetables inside. It is well packed and the flavor is well balanced. A perfect start for the meal.
Bun thit nuong (Buncha)
The Bun Thit Nuong is Saigon’s version of the Hanoian dish “Bun Cha”, I’ve been looking around the metro to find an acceptable version. Now the difference with Saigon’s version is that the grilled pork and vegetables are served on top of the rice noodles then served with a side of dipping sauce. As compared to the Hanoi version where the grilled pork is placed in the dipping sauce, separate from the rice noodles and vegetables.
The grilled pork was marinated Pinoy style barbecue and was a bit too sweet for my liking. The rice noodles were a bit dry but still palpable. The dipping sauce was flavorful but still lacked that burst of grilled meat flavor I was looking for, perhaps because I liked Hanoi version better. When you eat the rice noodles, meat, and vegetables together, it combines to be a well-balanced sweet tangy dish. Since I have yet to have a comparison with this Bun Thit Nuong, I want to reserve judgment for the dish.
Pho dac biet (House Special)
ThePho dac biet is composed of several cuts of meat(brisket, meat balls, and flank) served on top of the rice noodles with their beef broth in a very large bowl. The broth is fragrant and flavorful, you can taste the mingling of classic Vietnamese herbs such as star anise, cilantro, and basil, with a hint of fish sauce. The different cuts of meat give the soup more texture and body.
Ca Phe Sua Da (Iced Vietnamese Brown Coffee)
If you read our article on Hanoi, you’ll know that Vietnam has a very strong coffee culture. Their beans and blends are different from our typical Barako brew. For Vina Trang’s version of the Brown Coffee, the strong scent of Vietnamese coffee beans is very evident. The condensed milk they use combining with the strong coffee that comes from the filter. It’s very strong and creamy.
The only thing I don’t understand is why they all don’t serve ample herbs and vegetables and lime on the side of the dishes. When sourcing these ingredients locally are not very costly.
Overall, Vina Trang Cuisine delivers affordable Vietnamese food. It’s a lot better than the local chains we have here.
Vina Trang Cuisine
- Address: 8839 Sampaloc Corner Estrella Street, San Antonio Village, San Antonio, Makati City
- Hours Open: 9am-11pm
- Average Spend: 600php/2 pax
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Our experience and insight to the recently concluded World Street Food Congress