Thursday, July 27, 2017

Restaurant Review: Golden Pho glows

With the exception of a growing number of “exotic” street vendors – who caused outrage recently when it was discovered they were serving dog meat to labourers on a nearby construction site – Vietnamese food has yet to take off in the city. That could be about to change, however, with a trickle of new Vietnamese restaurant openings doing a roaring trade – particularly among expats thankful for their fresh, healthy offerings and minimal use of oil.

Golden Pho – which opened last month – has proven so popular that, during our visit, all but one of the tables in the lively restaurant were occupied by diners enjoying steaming bowls of pho. As we slid into the last remaining seats the serving staff shot us a vexed look that said, “You better be prepared for a wait, folks.” And wait we did – though it was difficult to feel impatient seeing them dash around madly with armfuls of dishes.

You will find all of your favourite Vietnamese dishes on the menu here, which includes the usual pork buns, Pho and a range of salads. My guest and I opted for the fried spring rolls (K3500) and fresh prawn and pork rice-paper rolls (K3000) to start, both of which were excellent though, admittedly, difficult to get wrong. When it comes to sorting the vrai from the faux in the Vietnamese restaurant game, every Vietnamese food lover knows it all rests on the pho, so my guest chose the chicken version while I opted for the sliced rare beef. The dishes were served in the traditional Vietnamese way with a side of fresh bean sprouts and fresh herbs – and plenty of fresh chilli for those who like their noodle soup with added kick. The fragrant, steaming broth is just like you’d find in any good restaurant in Vietnam, and has a clean, wholesome flavour that sets it apart from the fatty, oilier versions available elsewhere in the city.

There are no alcoholic beverages on the menu, but health-conscious diners will take pleasure in the surprising range of fresh juices and smoothies. My fresh pineapple juice (K2500) was served in a Mason jar – a trendy touch (the restaurant’s owner hails from Melbourne) that will no doubt prove popular with bearded expats. Fresh young coconuts (K2000) are also on the menu – the staff will carve the shell up for you if you want to scoop out the fruit inside – and the traditional Vietnamese coffee is a real gem.

There are no delusions of grandeur here. The interior is modern but minimal – almost clinically so – and the service was somewhat aloof, even after the crowds had cleared out. But Golden Pho undoubtedly serves the freshest, tastiest, best-value Vietnamese food in Yangon, making it a must-go for noodle soup lovers – if you can find a table.

Golden Pho
62 Yaw Min Gyi Street, Yangon
Restaurant Rating: 4.5/5 stars   
Food: 9
Beverage: 8
Service: 7
Value: 9
X-factor: 9