Chennai’s new found love for Asian canteens continues with the debut of the cleverly named Va Pho:
The city’s newest Asian canteen takes its name from Vietnam’s best known soup – the Pho (pronounced Foe). But the clever word play might mean most Chennaites are likely to call this place Va Po (come and go in Tamil if you really need a translation). Va Pho is the latest brand from Oriental Cuisines that operates Chennai’s longest running authentic Thai restaurant – Benjarong. Yes, they know their Thai from their Vietnamese.
The Space: follows the new template that Asian canteens and informal restaurants (read Mamagoto) seem to have perfected in India over the last 5 years. Specially commissioned wall art by a Mumbai-based artist, quirky wall panels by one of Chennai’s brightest creative hotshops – Karan Daswani’s Fingerprint, combine with funky light fittings and a range of props that include a tuk tuk.
The grub: There’s a great mix of all the region’s cuisines; there are even a couple of dishes from the Philippines. We’d definitely recommend their signature Beef Pho and their Bao (the vegetarian and Chicken BBQ are both nice) to kick start your meal. Also try their Malay style Satay – the Tofu is surprisingly good. There’s a range of salads on the menu – the Vietnamese style banana blossom salad is our favourite. If you dig your seafood, do give the sizzling prawns tossed with broccoli and pak choi a shot. We didn’t find the Indonesian style beef rendang spicy enough. If you’re staying for dessert check out the coconut ice cream on a stick – lovely flavours and textures.
Bottomline: Va Pho is a great venue for a casual meal any time of day. The menu has quite a few hits and the occasional misses. We love the high energy interiors and that the restaurant allows diners in the city to discover signature dishes from the South East Asian region at a compelling price point.
Va Pho is next door to Copper Chimney and Sera Tapas bar. No: 6, Cathedral road, Chennai: 86. Ph: (044) 48566555. Meal for 2: Rs 1200/-