10 Feb2014

Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 5.27.30 PM

I don’t normally do “press announcements” for new restaurants, nor do I attend pre-opening bashes with lots of free food, but I make the exception on announcements for Phat Pho because I am a huge fan of their original Cebu restaurant and I eat there at least once every trip I make to Cebu (and that is 2-3 times a month).

When it first opened, with Vietnamese-born Chef Bruce at the wok, the simple but well-executed dishes and short but satisfying menu was (and remains) a real treat. I wrote a review of the Cebu restaurant here, and if you go back and read it, you will have figured out I am a big fan of Phat Pho. Chef Bruce hasn’t been around for several months now, and some of the dishes have lost a bit of edge, but I still find myself visiting often, either for some beautifully made fresh spring rolls, or a bowl of pho (oddly, with lettuce on occasion?!) or their addictively good fried rice. They also have a spicy noodle stir-fry that is delicious.

Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 5.28.21 PM

The new Manila location is a collaboration between The Abaca Group of Cebu and The Moment Group of Manila (‘cue, Namnam, BurgerBar, etc.) and if they keep the same formula of a very small space with few seats this place is almost certainly going to be jam-packed for the first couple of weeks of operation. But the real test is if they can keep extremely high levels of food quality with well-trained and almost obsessively compulsive chefs (hopefully Chef Bruce and or other Vietnamese chefs are there for the first few months if not longer) and the right ingredients like real limes. It’s about time the recent trend towards ramen (which I love, but there are just too many mediocre ramen places now) gets some competition from a Vietnamese pho place. Good luck to the folks at Phat Pho Manila, and congratulations in advance, Marketman is truly hoping you have a slam dunk of an opening! But wait, save me a few seats for about 1-2 months from now, when the place has had time to settle down. And yes, I will pay for everything we eat. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Phat Pho
Officially opens 12 February 2014 at 6pm
Ground Floor, Serendra
Bonifacio Global City
11am-11pm, starting 13 February
(02) 843.0820

Photos courtesy of Phat Pho Manila.



  1. chrib says:

    Yey! Excited to try this here in Manila. Wasn’t able to try the original in Cebu when I was there.

    Feb 10, 2014 | 7:58 pm


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  3. Lou says:

    I must say the food pictures are exquisite!

    Feb 10, 2014 | 8:43 pm

  4. Mandy says:

    Personally, I am not a fan of Vietnamese cuisine, although I do love their fresh spring rolls. The husband, on the other hand, loves pho! When we came back from Cebu and read your post about Phat Pho, he was disappointed that we weren’t able to go the branch in Cebu. He is very excited to try it out, already planning to go when in opens on Wednesday evening.

    Feb 10, 2014 | 10:09 pm

  5. marixie says:

    The pho picture looks delectable but where are the greens? It seems to be seriously lacking these vital ingredients e.g. it needs lots of Thai basil, and other “aromatic” greens, not just the bean sprouts and spring onions!!! I see there is a plate next to the bowl, with some greens on it but it looks meager!!

    Feb 11, 2014 | 5:19 am

  6. passive.observer says:

    Just out of curiosity MM, which ramen place do you frequent?

    Feb 11, 2014 | 8:19 pm

  7. Marketman says:

    passive observer, I like Ramen Yushoken in Alabang, or Ramen Ron’s on Pasay Road in Makati. I also tried a few of the new arrivals and they are pretty good… but for me the essence is a good broth, and great noodles, and NOT everyone seems to have that.

    Feb 12, 2014 | 8:54 am

  8. patrick says:

    Copy a great cuisine.
    Sanitize it.
    Streamline its production.
    Give it a modern soundtrack and cool sheen so appealing that no one even notices its soul has been stripped away.

    And then you will have Phat pho, the starbucksification of a very proud cuisine.

    They should go great in Manila!

    Good chef bruce, hope it was worth every dong.

    Feb 12, 2014 | 11:17 am

  9. corrine says:

    MM, that’s good news! Hope the quality remains good. For ramen, try Ramen Kuroda on Aguirre Ave. very near cor Elizalde. It’s beside another very good Jap restaurant in our neck of the woods, Hanakazu. Last time we ate in RAmen Yukoshen, the noodles were a bit tough. Looks like they dried out and were just dunk in hot broth which was very salty. First time we ate there, it was good though. Ramen Kuroda I think is better. The challenge with restaurants is consistency in quality of food and of course, service.

    Feb 12, 2014 | 9:12 pm

  10. Lambchop says:

    I’m Cebuano and I really recommend all the restaurants under the Abaca Group. They don’t scrimp on ingredients. And they’re one of the few Cebu restaurants that really harp on quality above all else.

    Very proud of this homegrown group expanding to Manila! :)

    Feb 16, 2014 | 11:46 am

  11. balikpinoy says:

    We tried this last weekend and were disappointed on several levels.

    Let’s start with the positive. The Pho broth was one of the best I’ve tasted in Manila (which is really not saying much). A bit too sweet but good nonetheless.

    Now, the bad. I ordered the large Pho special bowl and found the portions of the ingredients on the small side for a 400 peso bowl of Pho. Being used to the Superbowl Pho’s in LA, I wasn’t expecting the same, but using 60 grams of vermicelli (as indicated by our server) is not my idea of a heaping bowl of Pho goodness. Vermicelli can’t be that expensive in Manila for a restaurant to skimp on. The meat portions were also on the small side. We left so unsatisfied that we ate again at a different restaurant an hour later.

    The fried rolls were good but again, it was lacking some side lettuce that usually accompanies such a dish. The dipping sauce was good but was served in such a small bowl, you could hardly dip the rolls into them.

    The spring rolls were also small and the peanut sauce was very bland.

    Again, I maybe spoiled as Pho is my almost every day dish when I travel to LA, but there’s gotta be a decent go to Pho place in Manila. PhatPho isn’t it for me. There’s a place in Greenbelt 5 that we tried a few months before and that was better overall.

    Mar 25, 2014 | 3:52 am

  12. Firechef says:

    I love Pho and usually eat it once per week. First time I had it was in Seattle, WA. USA many years ago at a very small family owned place, maybe 6 tables in it. I really don’t remember why I went in there, but that was the best culinary experience I’ve ever had! Mind you! I’m a trained Chef, so this is a REAL compliment!. Since then I have had Pho in many different cities here in the “States”, but nobody has ever come close to that first encounters taste. Don’t remember the name of the place, but I remember where it is. Hopefully it is still there when next time I visit Seattle.
    Compliments also to MM for very enlightening articles and great recipes, I’ll be in Manila at the end of the year and I will look you up!

    Apr 27, 2014 | 10:05 am


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