965, 12th Main, HAL 2nd Stage, Indiranagar Bangalore 560038;
Meal for two: Rs 1,000
No one’s done a survey, but Bangalore probably accounts for the quickest turnover of restaurants in India. The paying public is discriminating, cost-conscious, yet not too adventurous when it comes to flavours. So Vietnamese seems a safe bet: it’s close enough to Chinese and Thai to be familiar, and yet distinct enough for the discerning.
I can’t unequivocally declare the food 100 per cent authentic. But there’s no doubt the Pho—Vietnam’s ubiquitous soup dish—is just what the gourmet-gods ordered for a cold winter night. Hearty, with the right mix of heat and sourness, a bowl (veg: Rs 250, chicken: Rs 290, prawn: Rs 320, beef: Rs 290) will fill a tummy and then some.
But we go too fast: Over multiple visits, we tried as starters the delicious Viet Spare Ribs (Rs 225), Can Tho Clams (a deceptively large steamed helping for Rs 180) and Green Papaya Salad (strips of raw papaya in a peanutty dressing; Rs 150). The last followed Barbed Wire Soup (with lemongrass, coriander and bird’s eye chilli; Rs 125 for chicken) and the sweet crunchiness of the salad absorbed the heat of the soup very well. We got lucky with educated guesses, but a balance is vital while ordering. The waitstaff is not particularly well-versed, and I’ve overheard complaints of ‘tasteless’ and ‘too sweet’. We had no such cribs about our main courses: Kho, rawas cooked in a rich caramel sauce (Rs 275), and the Thai Yellow Curry-ish Vietnamese Chicken Curry (Rs 275). The Lemongrass Ice-cream (Rs 105) was more chinagrass pudding with lemon rind than ice-cream. Choose well, and Phobidden Fruit will have you coming back for a second bite.