10 July 2016

Annam Noodle Bar in Eastwood City

I recently asked my interior designer friend Gerard, where can I go in Asia (not to shop) to experience a new culture and some good food.  He quickly replied, "Go to Vietnam Tina, the cuisine is healthy and it tastes really good, plus you don't have to travel too far".  Little did I know that I would be able to experience a slice of Vietnam in Manila when I received an invitation to the opening of Annam Noodle Bar in Eastwood City last week.   

As I stepped inside Annam Noodle Bar, it felt like I was somewhere exotic but with a modern touch.  I couldn't help but gaze at the colorful Vietnamese lanterns, the colorful neon signs of hot pho and bahn mi, the Vietnamese ca phe (coffee) bar by the entrance, a black and white film on Vietnamese culture is projected to a wall, ingredients that are undeniably part of Vietnamese cuisine such as bun rice vermicelli, hoisin and chili sauce are spread around the restaurant to form part of the décor and can be purchased as well.  The tables are tightly arranged as if to evoke a nostalgic street setting.

I also had the privilege of meeting Chef Nam Quoc Nguyen, Director and Owner Chef of Annam Noodle Bar.  Chef Nam was born in Vietnam, spent 7 years of his childhood in Saigon, but in 1979 he and his family fled to Denmark when Vietnam fell to the communists.  While growing up, his parents took every effort to ensure that he kept to his Vietnamese traditions and culture.


Chef Nam has also worked for various award-winning restaurants and hotels, such as the one Michelin Star Le Canard Oslo and the prestigious Sukhothai Bangkok where he took the reins as Executive Chef.  Despite his travels and exposure to various cuisines, he returned to his roots and opened Namnam Noodle bar.  The casual noodle bar which took him 5 years of careful planning debuted in Raffles City Shopping Centre, Singapore on October 15, 2012.
Setting his sights to the Philippine market, he opened Annam Noodle Bar and maintains the same "pho-losophy" in his restaurants:
  • No MSG in their menu
  • Quick and hassle-free Vietnamese fix
  • Affordable
Chef Nam also explains that his Annam Noodle Bar menu is very simple - He has 6 options each of Banh Mi, Vietnamese Pho, Vietnamese Noodles, Vietnamese Desserts and 9 small plate options.  It is true that the menu is uncomplicated. 


To order, just fill up this order slip that you'll find on your table, use the menu as your guide to make your choices and give it to your server.    


Here are some of the yummy dishes that we've ordered:

Tangy Mango Salad
with prawns, pork, fresh herbs and peanuts
Php 250.00


Prawn & Sesame Prawn Crackers
(best ordered together with the salads)
Php 130.00


Fresh Southern Rolls
with prawn, pork, fresh herbs and peanut sauce
Php 170.00


Caramelised Chicken Wings
with shrimp paste
Php 200.00


Crispy Imperial Rolls
Php 200.00


Vegetarian Southern Roll
with fresh herbs and peanut sauce
Php 170.00


Sautéed Lemongrass Pork
with cream cheese
Php 250.00


Lemongrass-Ginger Iced Tea
Php 150.00


Saigon Fisherman's Noodle Soup
Php 380.00


Sauteed Lemongrass Pork Noodle
with rice noodles, fried imperial roll, bean sprouts and peanuts
Php 320.00


Pho Australian Oxtail & Beef Balls
Php 400.00


Vanilla Pudding
with palm sugar caramel
Php 150.00


Saigon Sally Sundae
with choc crunch, vanilla ice cream, choc hazelnut sauce
Php 200.00


Four days later, I am back at Annam Noodle Bar, this time I brought along the ultimate taste-tester, my husband Mickey who loves Pho and Vietnamese cuisine.  He is actually looking forward to this day.  So, here we are at 11:00 a.m. on a Sunday to get our Vietnamese cuisine fix.


Mickey ordered a bowl of Pho Chicken (Php 290.00).  It has sliced chicken, soft boiled egg, fresh herbs and spring onions.  He requested to have the innards removed. 


I am a creature of habit and I absolutely love the Saigon Fisherman's noodle soup (Php 380.00) that I tasted during the launch, so I ordered a bowl again.  It is full of flavor.


We also ordered a Chili-Lemongrass Chicken banh mi (Php 230.00) with egg omellette and chicken floss. However, when we finished off our bowls of pho and noodle soup, we were full already so we just had this wrapped to go.  It may be best to share a bowl of pho or noodle soup, and banh mi, unless you have an appetite of a professional basketball player. 


Looking at the dessert selection, I am drawn again to order the same yummy dessert I ordered last time, the Saigon Sally Sundae (Php 200.00).  Initially, Mickey ordered the chilled 3 colour dessert (similar to our own halo-halo dessert), but later on changed to the same order as mine.  He said that it was delicious.  No regrets then, Mickey?  Haha!


However, there are two things that needs to improve:  First, the noisy air-conditioning unit which becomes a bit annoying during conversations.  The ambient noise the A/C generates is enough that we could barely understand the background music playing.  I assume the A/C is new, but a wrong type of choice for the new restaurant.  Probably a well placed cassette type indoor units with inverter technology will solve the problem.

Secondly, they also need to add the availability of complimentary water upon request, there is simply none.  You would have to order drinks to neutralize the spicy food with either, iced tea, sugar cane juice, coconut juice, soda, beer.  You can only take so much sugared drinks, sometimes all we need is just plain cold water.  In the meantime, you have to order bottled water each time.

Over-all, the food at Annam Noodle Bar is delicious, healthy, big portions, and priced fairly.  The interiors was perfectly fit for the theme of the restaurant.

On another note, you might want to join Annam Noodle Bar's Instagram Pho-tography Challenge.  They are picking 3 winners per month for an all-you-can-eat meal for you and a friend.  That's Pho-tastic, isn't it?


Visit Annam Noodle Bar soon for their signature pho and noodle dishes as well as crispy banh mi baguettes.  Annam Noodle Bar is located at the Ground Floor of 1880 Building, Eastwood Avenue, Eastwood City.

Find them on Instagram and Facebook
@annamnoodlebar


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