Saturday, July 9, 2016

Pho, Banh Mi, and Vietnamese Coffee: Authentic Vietnamese Flavors at Annam Noodle Bar

A steaming hot bowl of comforting Pho, light and crisp Banh Mi with freshly-baked French baguettes loaded with a savory fillling, and the bold robust notes of Vietnamese coffee sweetened with thick condensed milk...popular staples of Vietnamese street food come to the metro at Annam Noodle Bar. 

Annam Noodle Bar's menu is inspired by traditional old-world recipes and cooking styles from Northern, Central, and Southern Vietnam using the freshest and authentic ingredients for a true taste of Vietnamese street food. And it's now here, with its first branch located at Eastwood City.

Director and owner Chef Nam established the NamNam Noodle Bar chain in Singapore back in 2012, and its success led to an aggressive expansion program with more branches in Indonesia and now Manila with Annam Noodle Bar. Chef Nam's culinary philosophy revolves around three cornerstones: No MSG, quick, and affordable.  

And that's what you get at Annam Noodle Bar, Vietnamese style street food with the freshest ingredients for rich and vibrant flavors that's quick with excellent value for money. Chef Nam fled Vietnam as a child with his family during the tumultuous days before the fall of Saigon in 1979, but his parents took every effort to ensure that he kept to his Vietnamese tradition and culture, which included Vietnamese cuisine. Chef Nam then embarked on a culinary journey around the world, with stints at the Michelin Star Le Canard in Oslo and the prestigious Sukhothai Bagkok. With experience and exposure to international cuisine, Chef Nam decided to go full circle and return to his Vietnamese roots with the opening of his very first casual, quick-service noodle bar in Singapore. By repackaging the old-world concept of street food with a modern twist, diners get that nostalgic street vibe, down to the communal-style seating and curated menu. Fresh and healthy Vietnamese food that's quick and affordable, and with no MSG, a winning concept replicated by Chef Nam in his newest branch outside Singapore and Indonesia with Annam Noodle Bar in Eastwood City. Start your feast with some of Annam Noodle Bar's Small Plates, like the refreshing Green Papaya Salad with Beef Jerky, Fresh Herbs, and Peanuts (P 250) where freshness provides all the flavors.

The Fresh Southern Rolls with Prawn, Pork, Fresh Herbs, and Peanut Sauce (P 170) is another iconic classic recreated at Annam Noodle Bar, a light and tasty starter before the mains. The fresh snap of the plump prawns, the minty notes of fresh herbs, and the savory pork combine for pure and clean flavors, punctuated by the mildly sweet peanut sauce.

The Crispy Imperial Rolls (P 200) deliver a delectable play on flavor and texture, with the light crispness of the roll capping every bite, followed by the savory notes of the pork filling. Enjoy this with a cold beer or a refreshing Lemongrass-Ginger Iced Tea...perfect. 

And if you're looking for a healthier option, Annam Noodle Bar also offers the Vegetarian Southern Rolls with Fresh Herbs and Peanut Sauce (P 170).

Other tasty starters include the Crispy Squid with Sriracha Mayonnaise (P 200), with crunchy breaded squid complemented by the soothing heat from the creamy Sriracha mayo; and the equally tasty Caramelized Chicken Wings with Shrimp Paste (P 200), with the delicate notes of the juicy chicken kicked up by the salty shrimp paste.

Annam Noodle Bar also offers a wide selection of the famous Banh Mi, including the Sauteed Lemongrass Pork with Cream Cheese (P 250), with savory pork on chicken pate, mayonnaise, hot chili peppers, pickled carrots, daikon, cucumber, and fresh cilantro on a crisp toasted baguette. The delicate yet rich notes of the sauteed pork comes through with hints of lemongrass, followed by the deep flavors of the chicken pate, the fresh notes of the vegetables and herbs, and finished by the cream cheese. each bite delivers complex yet balanced flavors, and the freshly baked baguette, with its light crispness, is just perfect. Other Banh Mi selections include a Vegetarian variant, the Lemongrass Tofu, Egg Omelette, and Braised Mushrooms (P 230); the Chili-Lemongrass Chicken, Egg Omelette, and Chicken Floss (P 230); the Caramelized 5-Spice Pork Belly (P 230), Fried Catfish with Spices (P 230), and Chili Sambal Braised Beef (P 230). 

Then, it's time for some Pho. Annam Noodle Bar offers six flavorful variants of the Hanoi-style Pho, with its flat rice noodles in an intensely flavored broth boiled for twenty-four hours and garnished with fresh herbs and spring onions. The rich broth is concentrated with the bold notes of traditional Vietnamese spices, including star anise, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and cilantro. I go for the Pho Australian Wagyu Beef Slices (P 550), with rice noodles and herbs in a dark beef broth topped with slices of Australian Wagyu beef, served medium rare.

The soft yet firm rice noodles maintains its form all the way to the last bite, holding its own with the steaming hot broth...

...and the tender slices of Australian Wagyu beef completes the flavors. The flavorful spice blend adds its own layers of distinct notes, with a whisper of comforting heat from the chili.

And just in case the chili gets the best of you, have a refreshing glass of Lemongrass-Ginger Iced Tea (P 150) by your side.

You can also enjoy your seaming hot bowl of Pho with Instant Noodles instead of rice noodles for a different flavor experience, perfect with the Pho Australian Beef Combination (P 350), with beef steak slices served medium rare, beef balls, tendon, and honeycomb tripe.

The instant noodles, with its mildly salty notes, complements the richness of the beef and the broth for perfectly balanced flavors. Other Hanoi-style Pho variants include Pho Chicken (P 290), Pho Australian Beef Steak Slices (P 320), Pho Vegetarian (P 270), and Pho Australian Oxtail & Beef Balls (P 400).

Annam Noodle Bar also offers other noodle dishes from Southern and Central Vietnam, like the Sauteed Lemongrass Pork Noodles (P 320) with flat rice noodles, bean sprouts, peanuts, and pork topped with the crispy Fried Imperial Roll. The sauteed rice noodles absorbs the rich flavors of the pork and fresh herbs, with the crispy Fried Imperial Roll adding that winning finishing touch. Other must-try noodle dishes include the Quang Style Egg Noodles (P 320) with bbq pork ribs, prawns, fish cake, and peanuts; the Saigon Fisherman's Noodle Soup (P 380), the Spicy Hue Australian Beef Noodles (P 350), Spicy Minced Pork and Pork Balls Noodles (P 320), and Spicy Braised Beef and Beef Balls Noodles (P 320).

Cap your feast with the robust flavors of Viet Coffee with Condensed Milk, Hot or Iced (P 120) with one of Annam Noodle Bar's signature desserts, like the indulgent Vanilla Pudding with Palm Sugar Caramel (P 150)...

...or the colorful Chilled 3 Colour Dessert (P 180) and the Saigon Sally Sundae (P 200) with smooth vanilla ice cream topped with chocolate crunch, and chocolate hazelnut sauce. 

You too can experience Chef Nam's return to his traditional roots with authentic Vietnamese flavors at Annam Noodle Bar. Just fill out your order slip conveniently placed alongside Vietnamese condiments and savor the true flavors of Annam Noodle Bar in Eastwood City.  

Annam Noodle Bar is located at Unit 1880-4, Ground Floor, 1880 Building, Eastwood Avenue, Eastwood City, Libis, Quezon City or visit their FB Page for more information and updates at

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