Some fun and lots of food :) The new Asian Canteen - Va Pho, Chennai

Where: Va Pho - Asian Canteen
Address: 73, Cathedral Road, Gopalapuram, Chennai
Cuisine: Asian

After every Friday, there comes a weekend that needs some planning to be done. When you talk about a weekend plan within the city, it got to include a movie and food date. And when I was hunting for my food date, there came a suggestion for some food and fun at the new baby in town “Va Pho”. Even before an official launch, they had opened their gates for dining and my Sunday was made blissful after the food.

And the love for Asian food is definitely one reason I happened to visit the place; mastering the pan-Asian cuisine isn’t easy but the menu was interesting. So during my first visit (oh yeah, I have visited them second time already), the order initiated with a soup and couple of starters, followed by a rice dish and then a few desserts.

The aromatic and flavourful broth is deliciousness; the juicy strips of chicken and the crunchy sprouts give the textural elevation to the dish and tastes good. You can adjust the tanginess or spice level with a squeeze of lemon or spoon of spicy sauce. The national as well as their signature soup Saigon Pho is divinely delicious.

Though I prefer to stay away from Salad, the day called for one as my mom loves salad. Green Papaya & Mango Salad felt like a safe choice as I read the description and the salad was a hit. The combination of shredded raw mango and raw papaya with a drizzle of spicy dressing, apt seasoning and crunchy bits of groundnut was refreshing and delightful.

And then the steamed shrimp dumpling (Hargow) is yet another brilliant addition to their menu. The juicy piece of shrimp that bursts with flavour in your mouth and there’s the spicy dip that adds the heat to the dumpling is magic on your plate. As I thought Hargow would be the best pick for the day, there came the Crispy Spicy Fish Bao, a bite of the bao and it was the unanimous winner.
The soft, spongy and mildly sweet bao bun is stuffed with crispy fish slices and veggies; the lavish drizzle of chilli mayo and the crispy yet moist fish goes so well with the bao. And at Va Pho, these steamed buns (i.e. bao) are a must order.

From Top: Fish Bao, Hargow & Malay Rice
The Spicy Malay Chicken Rice with a hint of coconut milk and chilli sauce was good. But there isn’t much to rave about as it's similar to a fried rice with an addition of coconut flavour. So moving ahead to the desserts, we ordered Sweetened Sticky Rice, Burmese Falooda and Tender Coconut Ice-cream Stick.
The sticky rice was a letdown in terms of taste for me; maybe my imagination and what I tasted didn’t happen to be same. The addition of mangoes was positive but neither the sweetness quotient nor the rice’s consistency appealed my palate.

The falooda wasn’t anything new to go gaga about but when I talk about taste this stole the show. The inclusion of the right amount of ingredients just enlightens your palate with richness and sweetness. And finally, the tender coconut stick which can never go wrong; the creamy coconut milk i.e. similar to a payasam with sago pearls were less on sweet and a dip of the coconut stick into the milk made a right pair. The wafer brings the crunchy texture to the dessert; this was a good dessert pick.

And after so much happiness to the tummy they did make our hearts happy, it is always great to know that you are paying exactly the same amount you spotted on the menu. Yes, the food pricing is inclusive of tax and we were billed Rs.1512 INR. And moving ahead with my second visit where I was called for a tasting session, thanks to the Chef for curating a beautiful meal.

The mocktails is yet another must try here; my favourites were the Royale Madras and Rangoon Princess. The refreshing zest of tender coconut with the touch of cinnamon is refreshing for summer heat, so Royale Madras understands the temperature better. The freshness from lychee, guava and lemon make Rangoon Princess a delicious one, with a dash of grenadine syrup this is yum. The other drinks I tried were Miloni Crush, Yummy Creamy and Bangkok Mojito; mango lassi was good but I would prefer the light and refreshing summer drinks over this. Also, the mojito will be a favourite if you love the strong flavour of basil.

Pic 1: Mojito & Royale Madras
Pic 2: Rangoon Princess, Mango Lassi, Miloni Crush
Very few restaurants have made me rethink about my hatred for tofu and one among them will be Va Pho; the Chilly Tofu Satay dipped into spicy coconut cream sauce is awesomeness in your mouth. The tofu is soft and melts like a cheese. And I did try their shrimp dumpling (Hargow) again and you will never have the heart to say ‘no’. Whereas I wasn’t a fan of the Zucchini, Corn & Cream Cheese dimsum, the floury texture of the stuffing didn’t bring out the flavours well.

Zucchini, Corn, Cream Cheese dim sum
Besides the satay and dumpling, they served Bao and fry dry starters. Anything you stuff inside the Bao bun is going to taste divine; for the vegetarians, they had Spicy Tofu Bao and Crispy BBQ Mushroom Bao. The crispy mushrooms dressed in BBQ sauce is bang-on in flavours; also the spicy tofu bao tasted yum. And the BBQ Chicken Bao was equally good in taste but my favourites are fish and mushroom.

Va Pho Mushrooms tossed in spicy sambal sauce was a delight. Also, the crispy broccoli (Kam Heaong Broccoli) tossed with curry leaves and curry masala was perfect in flavours and within minutes you will wipe off the plate. Before the large plates, there was Banana Blossom Salad that tasted good but I prefer fried delights any day over a salad.

From Top: Mushrooms, Broccoli & Banana Blossom Salad
The spice from the pepper and mild sweetness from the fried golden brown onions in the Va Pho Rice is a comfort food. With some juicy prawns cooked with broccoli and bokchoy in spicy black bean sauce, the rice tasted perfect. The Sizzling Prawns lights-up your mouth with intense flavours. Another yummy bowl was Kung Pao Vegetables, the crunchy stir fired veggies, chillies and cashews are hard to resist. Though the Spicy Malay Noodles infused with coconut milk and chilli sauce tasted good, I loved the rice a tad more. Even the steamed Cambodian style fish curry and the ramen noodles served with veggies (a Korean dish) tasted good.                    

And finally, Vapholicious, a mountain of ice-creams loaded with biscuits, gems, jellies and the list seems to go on and on. To finish off the vapholicious bowl you need at least 5-6 people; but except for the fun element, there isn’t anything new in terms of taste.
The new pan-Asian canteen in town impresses you with their food and fun dining. The intense flavours leave a mark; their signature dishes are a must try. Va Pho fun dining is currently a favourite hangout spot.

Breaking Down Points
Location & Parking: Nearest landmark are Sera and Copper Chimney, and it wouldn’t be difficult to find the place. There is valet parking.
Ambience: Positive. Quirky and vibrant.
Food Variety: Positive. Good options for vegetarians and non-vegetarians as well as plenty of varieties to choose from.
Taste: Positive. Let it be the mocktails, dumplings or main course, the taste of the dish will speak for itself.
Quality & Quantity: Positive. Food quantity is designed apt for sharing and the quality of the food deserves a thumbs-up.
Price: Costly. Meal for two will cost Rs. 1000-1200 INR approx. The meal will be worth the money spent and the pricing is reasonable.

So my Verdict!

Va Pho, the new fun dining Asian canteen in town serves delicious food. Talk about taste, quality, quantity, service or ambience, they are scoring good marks from my end. Good food, fun times and happy tummies.

P.S. This review is based on my dining experience at Va Pho. I have written about on-the-house bloggers tasting session too. Remember, no two person's palate can be same.      

Va Pho - Asian Canteen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Some fun and lots of food :) The new Asian Canteen - Va Pho, Chennai Some fun and lots of food :) The new Asian Canteen - Va Pho, Chennai Reviewed by Divya Srinivasan on 15:04 Rating: 5


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