I have been seeing Pho Hoa branches popping up not only around Singapore but also around South-East Asia, so I decided to give it a try. I mean, a franchise with so many branches can't be bad right?
Well, I tried the one at Holland V and I must say it is quite disappointing. I tried the Beef ball noodle and it's actually quite salty, saltier than the real deal in Vietnam. However, the lemon grass chicken was not bad and so was the sour plum soda.
Overall, it's not bad for lunch if you're in the area. But I'm quite sure there are other better options.
It's not often I feel the need to get online and vent about a restaurant, but by the same token, it's not often I'm this disappointed.
The feeling I got from this restaurant was that a great deal of the decisions are being made by someone who is so deep into the accounts that they've forgotten they're actually running a restaurant.
Coke - 1/2 a glass of ice, no can. Cost, as far as I remember, was a little shy of $3. For that price, it's reasonable to expect that I can expect the whole can. How bout it?
Iced Lemon tea - $3.50. Clearly from an off-the-shelf bottle (probably the cordial variety), but normally I wouldn't care. What annoyed me was the sorry, anorexic slice of lemon. It looked like it'd spent a good couple of weeks contemplating suicide at the bottom of the fridge. How much would it cost Pho Hoa to give me a decent sized, fresh slice of lemon?
Fried rolls - They might've been OK, save for the fact that Pho Hoa doesn't seem to have changed the oil in its deep fryer in the last year or so. Tasted like old motor oil, looked much the same.
Grilled chicken with vegetables - Grilled chicken was definitely the highlight, this was very good. Succulent, tasty, and (I presume) reminiscent of why this restaurant once had a name for itself. Let down by the tomato though - they'd given me the last wrinkled, ragged little bit, with the sphincter-end of the tomato crudely amputated (possibly by hand, Mortal Kombat style). Lettuce was slightly withered, and tasted unwashed.
Shrimp and mango salad - Looked fantastic, but my initial optimism was quickly tempered by the fact that the dry little prawns that had been meticulously arranged around the plate had actually been cut in half (so as to create the illusion of a dish more worthy of my $6). So clever!
Service - That was fine, the people were friendly, attentive, well presented and polite.
Awards - A couple of things really caught my attention when I was in this restaurant, namely the awards hanging from the wall. "Top 100 signature dishes", and an "Award of Excellence" from Yellow Pages in July 2007. No comment, draw your own conclusions about the value of these ones!
The bottom line is this: If you run a restaurant, nothing is as valuable as your reputation, and your ability to keep people coming back for more. A good restaurant makes its money on word-of-mouth and repeat business.
Everything about the food and drink I received showed me that this restaurant wants to cut corners at the expense of my satisfaction and a few quick savings. Disappointing, won't be going back.
See other reviews at http://thehungrybunnie.blogspot.com
A relatively enduring fixture of Holland Village, Pho Hoa was where I first had Vietnamese pho. The casual diner passes muster, but barely, and their price points are probably a huge factor in their staying power.
A word to the wise: bring lots of deodorant; Pho Hoa's poorly ventilated so fully expect to walk out reeking of the day-old frying oil and a mish-mash of bone stock.
1) Cha Gio ($6): decent flavour-wise, but seemed more like the usual Chinese spring rolls than a Vietnamese rice-paper wrap.
2) Bun Ga Nuong ($13.95) - a massive bowl of fresh vegetables and grilled chicken, sauced up with a salty dip: nice and refreshing as a salad of sorts
3) Pho Tai Bo Vien ($12.95): stock was full-bodied but also laden with MSG. At least the striploin was fresh, unlike the meatballs which were sub-par
4) Pho Ga ($11.95) - a clear chicken-based noodle soup: lighter than I'd expected, but still reeked of artificial MSG
Pho - the main dish tasted like instant pho noodle. Photos are misleading. Spring rolls were not even fresh. You can even saw the black spots clearly. Worst of all, it's 30% more expensive than other places like Nam Nam or Mrs Pho. There are many good eateries around Holland V which made me regret stepping into Pho Hoa.
food was ok i had the beef soup, not sure if msg free? biggest shock and the sigle reason i wont go back is they refused to provide water now we went there when it was quiet and only 2 oyher customers
See the complete review with pictures here. We started with the netted scallop rolls [$4.50] – pale yellow, deep fried pastries filled with scallop meat with their signature dipping sauce. We felt like we were on the streets of Vietnam just by dint of the freshly fried, piping hot morsels served in small portions. The second appetizer we tried was the house made squid pancakes [$5.95]. These were good too, but not as good as the scallop rolls. I think the deep fried spring rolls are also worth a try, don’t really like the rice roll with raw vegetables and steamed shrimp. The pho comes with a huge plate of basil, coriander, chilli paste, cut chillis, and lime wedges for you to garnish the broth. The actual soup itself is alright, not herbal enough, nor is the beef taste particularly strong. You can opt for your pho with flank, steak, beef balls, tripe, brisket, etc. Beef steak yields the leanest meat, and flank steak will have strips of fat running down the sides. We had pho with steak, flank, and beefballs [$13.95]. It’s hearty for a cold day, but I don’t think this place does very representative pho. We also ordered the grilled chilcken with rice [$11.95], which is done in roughly the same style with Thai grilled chicken, which is to say I can’t put my finger what they use to marinate it :P It’s really nice, tender, and moist, served with some sort of weird vegetarian keropok, a big saucer of dipping sauce, and steamed white rice. It wasn’t that cheap, $42.75 for the both of us, but we each had appetizers and stuff, guess I can’t complain. Still, it’s a little weird that you can get better lunch for cheaper at Barossa or La Nonna.