The rains have started, and hot soup will always come to mind. The meat eaters also seek tender meat that fall off the bones with some pizza and salad. Thus, this adventure brought me back to Yes Pho on a wet afternoon and at another time to sample food at The Hall of Plate.
The only Vietnamese restaurant in Baguio City that I know is still Yes Pho. The summer rains have triggered the want for warm soup for early dinner and so it was that one person in the group wanted pho. On this occasion, I tried the Special Pho with all my favorite parts of meat that include tendon, flank, brisket, meatballs, skin, and tripe.
However, the restaurant has simplified this as of today and deleted the tripe and skin from the soup bowl. Tendons are delicious because of the chewy translucent parts of the muscles of beef. Brisket has strips from the breast that has fat and a white film with the meat. Ox skin is like gelatin when cooked tender. Tripe on the other hand is the stomach of the beef and is flavorful and tender too, when cooked for a long time.
The blend of textures of the different parts of beef including the flank with the noodles that go with Vietnamese pho has no comparison in other cuisine. The broth is light, and the inclusion of red onions and green onions gives it a nice aroma. Adding fresh mongo sprouts and basil leaves gives the soup a sweet taste and crunch. In this occasion lifting the bowl to drink the soup is excusable. Although, cilantro was a missing ingredient, we excused it.
The beef pho is a simplified version that uses only the flank and the brisket with the noodles and soup. This was the choice of my eating gang.
The ca phe, or Vietnamese version of coffee, is also served differently. A clear cup is lined at the bottom with condensed milk and the coffee grounds are placed in a fine sieve bottomed vessel and poured with hot water to drip on the condensed milk in another cup. This is stirred for the cream, sugar, and coffee make up the hot drink. On cold days, this is not as piping hot as one would prefer.
Another occasion set us off to look for The Hall of Plate in Irisan. To our delight, the rack of ribs was to share in the menu. The excitement was well rewarded because this was falling off the bones and large enough for the four of us to share. The barbecue sauce that glazed the baked ribs was just what we expected. The grains of the soft and juicy pork were perfection, and everyone was delighted. This came with a side of salad greens drizzled with vinaigrette.
Chef’s Salad was the perfect palate cleaner while eating the rich meat instead of an appetizer. The croutons were not crispy but chewy because the bread was grilled with butter which came with the greens. Bite sized green lettuce, long thin slices of carrots, strips of purple cabbage, were topped with chunks of boiled chicken breast, boiled egg, and parmesan cheese. This came with Thousand Island dressing.
Pizza was thin crust and we opted to have two types, bacon and mushroom Melt for half of it and BBQ pork Ribs as the other. Bacon and mushroom melt had bacon cubes and slices of mushroom covered by a layer of mozzarella, moist and chewy. BBQ pork ribs had chunks of the pulled pork from ribs on a bed of mozzarella cheese and drizzled with a bechamel like sauce and topped with parmesan cheese. This tasted like the rack of ribs, but we didn’t mind. The truth of the matter was some of us had dental problems which prompted this soft kind of diet.
This season is a perfect time to look for comfort foods, one to warm the body and to lift the spirits.
– Nonnette C. Bennett