We love Pho

I recently posted about ph?, my love for it and a certain person who loves ph? so much he decided to turn it into art.

Meet Mr. Cuong Phu Le, Asian-Australian Community Cultural Development Officer of Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre in Sydney. Yes he’s pictured above in a really cute I love ph? shirt.

Those of you who attended the talk at the National Museum would be familiar with Mr. Cuong. I was most certainly inspired by him. You can see how he manages to fuse his interest for food and culture and present it to the lay person on the street with such enthusiasium that you can’t help but be infected with the ph? love bug.

I was helping out at the talk and managed to snap some shots just for you:

Yes, everyone had a hot bowl of ph? at the end. It was quite a big portion and it actually tasted rather good.

I’m sure you’re now wishing you had come! Ah well there’s always next time. Anyway, the food was just a bonus. The talk was the highlight and it certainly was enlightening.

Just because he is the founder and curator of the I love Ph? visual arts exhibition (which I hope makes it to Singapore eventually!), people expect him to know where to find the best ph?. It’s an occupational hazard! But Cuong doesn’t mind it because it just gives him the perfect excuse to go suss out ph? everywhere he goes!

He did just that in Singapore as well. I was tasked to bring Cuong around the island to find the best ph?.

Okay, maybe not the best one because I got to admit that I myself have not eaten all the ph? there is to be found here so I’m not the best judge. But I did do some research and we checked out Pho 24 and Va Va Voom.

Why these two places? Well Pho 24 is actually a franchise from Vietnam. Va Va Voom is a Vietnamese concept eatery I frequent occasionally when I’m craving for a hot bowl of ph?. Oh and it was nearby. We were strapped for time that’s why!

I don’t have photos from Pho 24. I guess I was a bit disappointed that the beef ph? wasn’t ready when we arrived around 11:30am. They supposedly stew their soups for 24 hours with 24 different spices. Hmmm so maybe that’s why their beef soup wasn’t ready? We had the chicken ph? instead. It wasn’t too bad but it was my first time tasting chicken ph? so I didn’t have much to say.

So off we went to Va Va Voom to fix our craving for beef ph?.

This Hue Spicy Beef noodle uses a clear spicy broth and the noodles are the same as the ones used in laksa. They’re round, semi opaque and made from rice flour.

I did of course ask Cuong how he liked his beef ph?. He did say it wasn’t too bad but he wished it had more ginger in it. I never knew that the ph? in Vietnam had ginger in it. At least now I know.

Looks like I wasn’t the only one taking photos of the food..

Just too bad our tummies weren’t bottomless or we could have gone on and visited other Vietnamese restaurants for more ph?.

Anyway, do feel free to feedback to me if you are absolutely sure you have found the best ph? in Singapore. I’ll be sure to try it myself!

And if you’re free this Saturday, do head on down to The National Museum at 3pm for a very delicious and enriching talk on “Chocolate in the 18th Century”. Regional pastry consultant of Valrhona Vincent Bourdin will be giving the talk.

Here’s more info:

An Enlightened Age: Chocolate in the 18th Century
In the 18th century, chocolate’s popularity reached across Europe and the Americas. It was a time of great upheavals in society that influenced who got to enjoy chocolate and who didn’t, and of advances in technology that made possible the first chocolate bars. In this workshop, learn how the history of chocolate reflects the changes in society in the 18th century.
3 May 2008, 3pm, Salon, $10

Tickets for “An Enlightened Age: Chocolate in the 18th century” can be booked online at www.nationalmuseum.sg (go to Online Booking Page) or at the Visitor Services Counter at the National Museum of Singapore (93 Stamford Road Singapore 178897). Tickets are S$10 each.

Posted on 29th Apr 2008 in Pho  |  5 comments

For the love of Ph?

The one thing I miss about school is cheap food – especially the food sold in NUS’s business canteen. Though I’m from Arts, I think in my entire 2 and a half years there, 75% of my meals are from business canteen.

It is clearly because of the good food at that canteen. Perhaps I’d be more specific. Most students rave about that Western stall, but as for me, I’m crazy about something more Asian. I do love the honey roasted chicken at the Western, but I dare say it’s the Vietnamese stall that I’ve grown to love. They serve good ph?, both spicy and non-spicy. Their portions are also pretty generous. Perfect to slurp down on a cold, rainy day. Oh here’s the best part – one bowl costs only $2.50. I dare say it’s the cheapest ph? you can ever find in Singapore! I might have a photo of it in my laptop somewhere. I’ll post it up if I can find it.

Ph? is one comforting dish that never fails to soothe my nerves. It’s calming aroma is so distinctive. I can only imagine how the real deal tastes like. I would love to visit Vietnam someday and taste authentic street ph?.

I cannot recall when I had my first bowl of ph?, but this I know: the first time I tried it, I fell in love with it. I love the basil and fresh beansprouts it’s usually served with. Some places serve the vegetables separately, leaving you to put it into the broth when you’re ready to eat it – I prefer it this way because it ensures that the vegetables stay crisp. A healthy dish that warms even the coldest soul, ph? is an amazing dish and one of Vietnam’s greatest gift to the culinary world.

As much as I love ph?, I’ve got to admit that I know very little about it, save for the fact that it’s from Vietnam and that it uses rice noodles and is usually served with beef. How shameful eh? Most of the time we just eat without thinking and appreciating the history that lies behind these foods.

Nonetheless, it is never too late to be enlightened. If you’re a fellow ph?-lover like me who wants to find out more about ph?, then I think you’d want to be at the National Museum of Singapore this Friday (11 April) at 7pm.

Ph?-expert Mr. Cuong Phu Le will be here to give you a deeper insight to the well-loved noodle dish at a one-hour workshop entitled “The Story of Pho, the Story of a Nation”. Mr. Le is an Australian citizen of Vietnamese descent and is also one of the world’s leading experts on Ph?.
Hailing from Saigon, Mr. Le still travels to Vietnam regularly and he’s also the person behind a multi-disciplinary project called I LOVE PHO. In this project, Ph? will be examined and interpreted through literature, visual arts, film, performance, a food festival and symposium.

Who knew ph? could stir up so much passion? To find out more about Mr. Le, read Chubby Hubby’s one-on-one interview with the Ph? ‘professional’.


The Story of Pho, the Story of a Nation
Learn the history of Vietnam’s most well-known and unofficial national dish. Further, learn how this simple beef noodle soup represents and reflects Vietnam’s unique culture and heritage both in Vietnam and abroad. Understand how pho has travelled around the world with the Vietnamese diaspora and has, more than anything else, become a symbol of Vietnam. Salon, 7pm, $10

Tickets for The Story of Pho, the Story of a Nation can be booked online at www.nationalmuseum.sg (go to Online Booking Page) or at the Visitor Services Counter at the National Museum of Singapore (93 Stamford Road Singapore 178897). Tickets are S$10 each.

Posted on 9th Apr 2008 in Pho, Vietnam  |  7 comments

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