With the number of pending reviews I have, I should technically stop eating outside and concentrate on clearing them out. But some places are just too good to miss and post a splendid experience, it’s impossible for me to not write about it. After seeing a post on Where Chennai Eats by a fellow reviewer about Va Pho, I wanted to try this place out. So when my friend planned a meet, I made this the spot.
Va Pho is a Pan Asian restaurant located at Cathedral road below the Cathedral road flyover in the same building as Hot Breads, China Town, Don Pepe, Sera – The Tapas bar. The bright green exteriors are hard to miss despite them being inside a street. The street has restricted parking but fortunately they have valet parking service. There’s decent bike parking space too.
The Oriental Group is known for their restaurants that range from very cheap ones to fine dining. They can very well be called as a chain that caters to almost everyone, thanks to the variety they offer in price range as well as cuisines. While they’ve got Asian food covered with restaurants such as Teppan, Benjarong, China Town and so on, they’ve maintained it as fine dining. I suppose that’s why they’ve made it a point to make this a more affordable eatery and this is shown in the decor they’ve gone with.
Va Pho has a chilled ambience with different coloured floor tiles and bright walls. They’ve shown differences in the furniture too as the ones in the middle of the floor have a more laid-back park bench style seating compared to the couches and cushioned chairs that line up next to the walls. They have the glass covered open kitchen on one side and the far end of the place has a wall stacked up with interesting items such as fish bowls, mugs and tees for sale, game sets, antique items such as old radio set, table fan and so on.
The walls are adorned with crazy snaps of weird describable things that are sure to put a smile on one’s face. There’s one which had a samurai escaping an atom bomb rain riding a T -Rex that’s fire spitting, nun-chuck wielding and hat wearing with a tv dish on its back. I’m clueless on where they got these ideas from but they’re innovative and super fun at the same time.
We visited this place for Saturday (18th March 2017) lunch and then they weren’t officially open. I once again got there two days later for dinner. Hence this review would be a mix of both the experiences. As always, we tried a couple of dishes and here is how they turned out to be.
* Royale Madras: A mocktail made from Tender coconut juice, peaches, lemon juice and a hint of cinnamon. On my first visit, I didn’t prefer this drink but on my second visit, the chef made a batch specially for me and this one was actually good. Apparently a change in tender coconut vendor was all that was had to be done.
* Saigon Pho: The national soup of Vietnam. This made me wonder why India doesn’t have a national soup yet Tried the beef variant. Subtle yet beautiful.
* Green Papaya and Mango Salad: Never did I think I’ll fall in love with a salad. This is probably one of the best I’ve ever tried and I highly recommend this salad for those who go here. It was lip-smacking good.
* Ve Pho Mushrooms: Crispy fried and wok tossed mushrooms. Quite a decent dish.
* Kam Heong Squid: Tossed squid rings. Nailing squids to perfection isn’t an easy task but these guys make it look so easy. Crispy and yummy, love it.
* Phuket Beef Satay: This is another ‘yardstick’ dish. It was an OK-ish one but this was served with the awesome Green Papaya and Mango Salad, so can’t complain
* Hargow: Shrimp dumplings is how I make up my mind on whether I like an Asian restaurant or not. Moist and filled with flavour, this dish was liked by all.
* Zucchini, Corn and Cream Cheese Dimsums: I guess we can say we got carried away with ordering as this dish wasn’t up to my satisfaction.
* Curried Beef Dimsums: Yet another lovely dish. Felt dry but the taste made up to it.
* Chilly Basil Chicken Dimsums: While this wasn’t as bad as the veg variant, this dish didn’t find a fan in me nor my friend.
* Crispy Spicy Fish Bao: Finding a good Bao in Chennai is quite a challenge. This one was just too good and yet another must-try here.
* BBQ Chicken Bao: Since I tried the fish variant on my first visit, the chef recommended this one. The BBQ Chicken Bao was more juicier thanks to the sauces and it was packed with flavours. But still my favourite would be the Crispy Fish.
* Singaporean Char Kwaytiew: This was the only dish we tried from the mains section on our first visit as the starters filled us up well. I personally love mixed meat noodles and flat noodles. So when there’s a dish where I can have both together, I wasn’t going to miss a chance. It was super-delicious.
* Spicy Malay Noodles: Yet another chef suggestion which ended up being yet another favourite. We opted for the seafood variant and it was lovely.
* Burmese Falooda: This was a dish I ordered out of curiosity. It was just a simple falooda and there isn’t much to say/write about it.
* Sweetened Sticky Rice: Sticky rice with peaches stewed in orange syrup. Expected it to be made with palm sugar but it wasn’t. A disappointing dessert in short.
* Vapholicious: Liquid Nitrogen in desserts is the new trend and this dramatic one is a melody of ice cream scoops, dry fruits, nuts, wafers, biscuits and sauces. Order this only if you’re a group of four or more. We started playing Jenga as it took us so long to finish.
Service was satisfactory and the ambience looks fresh. Currently they’re awaiting for the lift to be fitted following which they’ll officially launch the restaurant. But they’re accepting walk-ins. They had a opening weekend offer because of which our bill was a meagre Rs. 1601. Overall, it was a lovely experience and that’s why I wanted to let the world know. Can’t wait to get back here once again.
Customer Service:- 4.5/5
Here are more snaps from my visit.