Asian food has a great affinity with most Indian palates. So, it was no surprise that an excited buzz broke out among foodie circles in the city and its neighbouring environs when news went around about the opening of a restaurant that was showcasing popular dishes from various parts of Asia.
The Va Pho restaurant has been conceptualised by the Oriental cuisines group and has thus far been met with wide appreciation since its launch in Chennai. The vision behind opening a vibrant space of this kind was simply to offer a dining experience that was a cocktail of happy vibes and wholesome food.
When the idea actually got translated into a physical space and plates of food, it ended up doing exactly what it set out to do. Not only does Va Pho offer a fun outing for the young but also doesn’t burn a hole in their wallets. The added advantage is that it attracts diners of all ages and food leanings!
The space is designed to capture attention the moment a customer walks in. It assuages the senses in a way that is a mood lifter. Even those accustomed to staring at their mobile for entertainment will not feel the need to do so while seated at Va Pho. Every time the eyes shift gaze, there is just so much quirkiness to take-in. The décor does manage to coax random smiles and delighted expressions from the customers thereby evoking conversations that open up the imagination. The monkey with its fangs out, gobbling up dimsums nonchalantly while having a phone conversation is quite hilarious.From adorable pandas wielding chopsticks to shaolin masters slicing through veggies with their fancy kicks, the walls are a riot of imagery. Even the air-conditioner duct on one wall has not been spared from being slathered in multiple hues. If that isn’t enough, solitaire and other games are offered to those interested while waiting for their meal.
This element of creativity is carried through in the menu – the Va Pho Daily (Asian Canteen). Chef Anand is at the helm of affairs here. Having visited and trained in Bangkok several times, he does favour the use of fresh ingredients, in particularly, the Thai cuisine, where no ajinomoto is used. The shrimp Hargow and chicken shumai are packed full of flavour and steamed to perfection in a thin, dexterously wrapped rice flour casing. These dumplings require a sleight of technique for them to have this kind of melt-in-the mouth consistency. The steamed baos are served piping hot and the lightness of the bao bun complements the texture of both the crispy, spicy fish and barbeque mushroom in the most delicious manner.
The baos and dumplings are a must-try. Whether it is the tom yum soup, thai curry or the green papaya salad, the chef and his team are committed to using high quality produce. No tinned coconut milk or powder is used in any dish. Even the pea aubergine which is an intrinsic addition to a good Thai curry is sourced locally and is added to the dish. While this is served with a side of basmati rice, the diner has the option of requesting for jasmine rice instead.
The ‘Va Pho rice’ is a meal that is so comforting. The onions are fried to the right level of crunch and leaves a wonderful texture in the mouth with every bite. The ‘Singaporean Char Kwaytiew’ is a much loved street dish with its amalgamation of flat noodles, minced chicken, fresh basil, chilli and toasted peanuts. As desserts go, the Thai sticky rice with mango is highly popular.
A dessert that is not on the menu but one that comes highly recommended is the tender coconut popsicle, served top-down in a wide glass goblet, resting on a lip smacking bed of crunchy water chestnuts swimming in coconut cream flavoured with rose syrup. A drizzle of kiwi syrup for colour and vanilla wafers on the side complete the dish in terms of presentation and textural flavours. The natural taste of the tender coconut makes this a clear winner.
The team at Va Pho are in the process of getting familiar with their customers in this city. The need to educate their patrons about dishes which are from parts of the world that are less travelled, is something that the Chef feels passionately about and the same is translated through the friendly staff that manage the front-end operations. From gazing up at the quirky fan rotating above or looking out at passer-by through the large picture window, seated at a high table, the dining experience at Va Pho is filled with variety, never boring and one that is eagerly looked forward to with each passing visit.
Timings: 12 Noon to 11 p.m. on all days | Address: #16, Abdul Rahim Rd, Race Course, Coimbatore | Ph: +91 84899 24981