Vietnamese cuisine has always held a special place in my heart; since I was a teenager who’d plonk herself in front of the television, watching multiple travel shows on the wonders of Southeast Asia. That’s why when I heard of Chef Minh Vietnamese Pho’s flagship stall in Bukit Batok, I knew I had to make my way down.
Being a die-hard Eastie, it’s difficult to get me out of Pasir Ris. But I’d gladly travel to the end of the world for pho. Despite the hour-long journey, my excitement stayed intact.
Before I continue with my review, it’s worthy to mention that Chef Minh, namesake and founder of the month-old stall, has over 10 years of experience in Vietnamese cuisine. From a teenager cooking in his family restaurant to the head chef of Malaysia Royale Vietnam, Genting Highlands to head chef at Wynn Palace, Macau, and now, a business owner and head chef of Chef Minh Vietnamese Pho, Singapore.
“As a proud Vietnamese, my dream is to bring the authentic flavours of Vietnam and make it more accessible and affordable for Singaporeans in the heartland,” said Chef Minh.
What I tried at Chef Minh Vietnamese Pho
With five different pho bowls to choose from, I went for the classic Pho Beef Tender Slices (S$5.50). Freshly prepared before dawn every day, the marrow-rich beef broth goes through eight hours of slow-boiling. I’ve said this before and I’ll say this again, to gauge whether I’m served with a fantastic bowl of pho, it has to smell and taste slightly similar to sup kambing.
After waiting for a few minutes, I got my bowl of Pho Beef Tender Slices. Immediately, the combination of coriander, bone broth, cardamom, and other familiar Southeast Asian spices permeated the air. An aroma I was all too familiar with. I was also greeted by the sight of a sea of beef slices in the notable clear broth, with a side of chopped chilli padi.
According to Chef Minh, he has tweaked the broth to cater to local tastes— which was disappointing considering the familiarity I had with authentic Vietnamese pho. Alas, I took a sip. The broth wasn’t as intense as I expected it to be, but the flavours were there, and that’s what made it enjoyable. It was light and refreshing, and addictive.
Apart from the mild-tasting broth, the beef slices were very thinly sliced which made it extremely easy to eat. Despite being tender and well-cooked, I felt that the dish would’ve been better with the addition of more beef.
The banh pho itself was silky smooth which made it seemingly easy to grip and glide down my throat with ease. The noodles were also well-cooked and did not stick together, which made the dish a delicious treat (but not the best I’ve had locally).
To complement my bowl of pho, I also got myself the Summer Roll (S$4 for two pieces). The dish is essentially a combination of fresh prawns, tender pork belly, and vermicelli with fresh lettuce and cucumber strips, wrapped in a translucent paper-thin Vietnamese rice paper. One look and the Summer Roll here is loaded to the brim.
Served with a classic dip made of sweet soy sauce, peanut sauce, and Vietnamese chilli sauce, pairing the roll and dipping sauce will guarantee an explosion of flavours. Normally not a seafood person, I enjoyed the rolls a bit more than I thought I would, and would have finished them in a heartbeat (if I wasn’t too full from my bowl of pho).
I may be biased here but I absolutely love Vietnamese food. And the mere fact that Chef Minh has made a conscious effort to bring affordable bowls of pho to the heartlands is commendable.
Although I found the broth unlike the ones I’ve had in Vietnam, I recommend anyone who lives in the West to have their maiden pho experience here as it’s a good stepping stone to the real deal.
I’ll definitely pop by soon if I ever find myself around the area again.
Expected damage: S$5.50 to S$9.50 per pax
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