One Tuesday evening, I found myself solo-dining at Phoenix. The Angmoh had abandoned me for cricket and I just completed a hectic day at work followed by 2 hours in the gym. Tired, lonely and hangry, I was in dire need of comfort food, and a hot bowl of rich beef stock was the perfect solution.
Phoenix is the younger sister of my all-time favourite pho joint, I Love Pho 264. The menu is bigger and offers a greater variety of Vietnamese dishes. I had one dish in mind and that was bun bo hue.
Phoenix’s version was slightly different to that of Superbowl, where I had my virgin bun bo hue experience. The accompanying salad comprises basil leaves, beansprouts and coleslaw. I missed the mint that comes along in Superbowl. The protein is kept simple: beef and pork slices with pork loaf. I have no idea what goes into that loaf but boy oh boy is it delicious! The soup had the classical depth of pho beef stock: rich and full of flavours, rounded by the spices. The gentle fragrance of lemongrass, a tongue-numbing kick of chilli and a squeeze of fresh lemon completed the broth.
I had already spied on the dessert menu and tucked aside some tummy space for deep-fried ice cream. Yes you heard right. And not just any ice cream – Passion Flower! This is the ice cream joint in the CBD that specialises in Asian-style ice creams and desserts, a joint that has delicious flavours of black sesame and taro and milk tea ice creams, but more importantly, a joint that I vowed never to return after experiencing god-awful service and getting charged an additional $5 just to top up the hot water in my tea pot!!
The “Konichiwa” at Phoenix had almost all my favourite things. Green tea, tick. Red bean, tick again. Drizzled in maple, triple tick! As the dessert was set down before me, the rich heavenly scent of maple almost had me digging into it without taking a photo. The ball of matcha ice cream was enveloped in a batter saturated with maple syrup, similar to that of a pancake. I loved the surrounding deep fried dried coconut, it enhanced the flavours of each component and complemented them at the same time.
I rolled out of Phoenix a happy camper. The bun bo hue was food for my soul and the dessert allowed me to forget about where it came from and enjoy all the flavours I love. If you’re headed to Victoria St., give Phoenix a try and enjoy the scrumptious flavours without the queues of its older sibling up the road.