Upon finding yourself served a bowl of warm pho, it calls to you until there’s no choice but to slurp it down until the last drop. What Pho Mahal’s got to offer is no different. Healthy, delicious, and surely filling, their Vietnamese authenticity and want to serve good food blooms with just a spoonful of their dishes.
“Fast, fresh, and fantastic!” says everyone included in an interview with The Benildean and co-owners Ngo Thao Thi (Sophia) and Tran thi my chi (Bella) as they laughed, sharing the three-word motto of their Vietnamese food establishment, Pho Mahal. Each word with a specific meaning for the restaurant itself.
Seated not too far from the noise and populations of Vito Cruz, Pho Mahal is challenged to be as fast as life and its fast food competitors while staying true to what makes Vietnamese food great—its freshness. Fantastic, of course, serves as a fun way to express the overall experience the owners aim for with each customer served.
Immediately greeted by its staff, ‘Xin Chao,’ a Vietnamese way of saying hello, bright colors and greenery meet the eye with a warm welcome. The restaurant’s authenticity and hospitality radiates as the co-owners find that the interaction between Vietnamese and Filipino customers and staff can also be seen in its name; Vietnam’s national dish, ‘Pho,’ combined with the Filipino word, ‘Mahal.’
When asked why people visit Pho Mahal, “It leaves you feeling full but not heavy,” Sophia says, expressing how while oily food can be filling, but also can feel too heavy, wanting to serve something filling yet light with their Vietnamese cuisine.
Ranging from ₱99 to ₱289, each dish offered in Pho Mahal has a decent portion size, quality ingredients, and a deep respect for the people working inside the kitchen. From their bowls of hearty noodle soups and dishes to the mouthwatering Banh Mi and coffee they have to offer, there’s a meal for everyone.
Certainly, the iconic Pho Beef Noodle Soup (₱199/₱249) is a best-seller with its rich broth, thin rice noodles, and tender slices of beef. Customers can also try other versions of the soup with its Chicken Noodle Soup (₱199/249) and Seafood Noodle Soup (₱320) which are equally delicious with their savory broth, a variety of meat or seafood, and of course several kinds of vegetables. Another soup to look out for is the Bun Bo Hue (₱280), which is another version of the Beef Noodle Soup that comes with a medley of meats of beef shank, oxtail, pork knuckles, and aromatic spices.
For those looking for a meal perfect for a bright and sunny day, perhaps the Mi Xao Bo (₱199) could pique one’s interest. A Vietnamese fried noodle dish, this meal combines an assortment of vegetables and slices of beef, drizzled in a savory and umami-rich sauce, displaying a symphony of color and flavors on a plate. Similarly, the Bun Thit Nuong (₱249) brings more of the Vietnamese cuisine Pho Mahal has to offer with its traditional vermicelli rice noodles served with grilled pork, fresh herbs, vegetables, and a fish sauce-based dressing.
More hearty food for one’s soul
Another noteworthy dish includes Chicken Rice (₱199). While it seems like a typical chicken and rice meal, the chicken is flavorful as it’s poached with herbs and cooked with fragrant herbs. Moreover, considered as both a side dish and meal to share, the Mix Spring Rolls (₱249) are also worth one’s time and money. Combining both fried and fresh spring rolls on a plate with some peanut dipping sauce, there’s a contrast between the two which can make anyone hungry for more.
Likewise, for those looking for something to bring on the go, the Traditional Banh Mi (₱149) is one’s bet. A sandwich consisting of a crisp baguette filled with a delicious medley of meats, pate, eggs, vegetables, and savory sauces, it packs a lot of nutrients and zest to satisfy one’s palate.
Finally, is Pho Mahal’s signature Vietnamese Coffee (₱99) with its strong and distinctive taste, iconic to Vietnamese cuisine. A fusion of concentrated coffee and sweet condensed milk over ice, their coffee has become a favorite among locals and visitors alike.
Setting up for another day
What started from a dream, reaching out to friends, family, and professors for investment help and loans, Pho Mahal stamps itself as a staple in the Vito Cruz, Taft food economy. While the co-owners do wish to introduce more Vietnamese food into the menu, opening up for franchising is a future goal of growth for both of them.
Seated in the middle of fast food restaurants, the slogan rings true yet again. Pho Mahal is quick to serve food from freshly delivered ingredients and a fantastically satisfying experience to the last drop.
Watch Pho Mahal’s Lamondays episode to break from your own pattern and experience the Vietnamese cuisine you deserve.