Pho Hoa wins over Pho Bac

Sometimes, I get confused with these Pho restaurants. We used to frequent a Pho restaurant at the Glorietta and I think that was Pho Bac, the same restaurant with a branch at Robinson’s Galleria.

Yesterday, we had lunch at Pho Hoa at Eastwood City and it wasn’t until the spring rolls were served that I realized we weren’t at a branch of the Pho restaurant at Glorietta and Galleria. But it wasn’t a bad thing, actually, since I was able to compare the food. The conclusion? Overall, Pho Hoa serves better food than Pho Bac.

Pho Hoa wins over Pho Bac

Let’s start with the spring rolls because this was the only exception to the conclusion I had drawn.

Rice noodles and diced grilled pork wrapped in rice paper. It was good — very good, actually, and we especially loved the dipping sauce which tasted like a mixture of peanut butter and hoisin sauce. I was even able to get a customized serving. The regular item included shrimps among the ingredients but since I am allergic to shrimps, the waiter informed me that they could take out the shrimps altogether which made me very happy indeed.

Good as Pho Hoa’s spring rolls were, I prefer Pho Bac’s spring rolls better with the softened rice paper and bits of browned garlic. But that’s where Pho Bac’s superiority ends.

Pho Hoa’s bowl of noodles was much, much better. Sliced romaine lettuce formed the base for this dry noodle dish. The rice noodles are placed on top of the greens and all the rest are arranged on top of the noodles — strips of grilled pork, shredded carrots, chopped peanuts, achara (pickled green papaya), julienned cucumber, sweet fried onions, chopped green onions and a few pieces of fried spring rolls. Everything in the bowl was just delicious. The pork was moist and tender, the vegetables were fresh and crisp, the noodles were soft but not soggy (oversoaking and/or repeated blanching in hot water can make them soggy). A regular serving (P175.00) was more than enough for me.

The girls each had a plate of grilled chicken and fried rice, served with fried spring rolls as well. I tried a piece of chicken and, like the pork in my bowl of noodles, the chicken was moist and tender.

In comparison, the rice meals at Pho Bac — like the mixed seafood curry, the caramelized pork with crab omelet and the sweet and sour fish — seemed ordinary and unexciting.

My husband had beef stew which came with buttered bread. The beef was tender but, aside from a small piece of beef, I can’t say anything about the overall beef stew experience because I was too busy attacking my bowl of noodles.

The bill was P1,030 for the four meals, the spring rolls and drinks for the kids.