Monday, October 10, 2016

Latest Pho Restaurant in Manila: Annam Noodle Bar

I have been dying to visit Annam since it opened last July 6. I was already planning to go but a terribly bruised leg and very uncooperative tummy made me stay at home. I tried to visit again countless times but each attempt was a failure. It would be either we were too full to enjoy another meal or Mother Nature suddenly wanted to create a scene. And after SEVEN failed attempts to visit, I finally got to visit Annam Noodle Bar on a Sunday for lunch.

Hello, Annam Noodle Bar
This is newest pho restaurants in Manila and it is a franchise under the Namnam group. 
We were charmed by the beautiful interiors of the restaurant with its beautiful bright red lights and eye catching pho and banh mi signs. The restaurant is huge and gave an illusion of an even bigger space with its wide mirrors at the side of the restaurant. Annam also has bar stools for those who like to be isolated from the crowd. 
There were not a lot of diners when we went so we were easily assisted to a nearby vacant table. 
Thrilled to finally be here, I giddily ordered Pho Australian Beef Combination (PHP350) and Sautéed Lemongrass, Pork and Cream Cheese (PHP250). R's parents went with Pho Australian Beef Steak Slices (PHP320), Caramelized 5-Spice Pork Belly (PHP230) and Vegetarian Southern Rolls (PHP170). For drinks, R went with Lychee Pandan Iced Tea (PHP150) while I ordered Vietnamese Iced Coffee with Condensed Milk (PHP120). 
Service was impressive. Our pho bowls were served in less than 5 minutes while the banh mi buns, rolls and drinks were served a few minutes after. 
I attacked the roll first as R was still busy slurping down our shared bowl. The spring roll had a faint herb taste and it could easily fall on the bland side if you are the type who loves bold and rich flavors. 

But if you dip this green roll in the peanut sauce, it'll be one dish you'd want to order twice for it is a great side dish to a piping hot bowl of pho. 
My lemongrass banh mi sandwich was the total opposite of the roll. It had very rich taste to the point that it overwhelmed me. The sharp salty and tangy taste of the filling was evident with each bite. 
I had to pause every time I have to sink my teeth in the crunchy buns again. It was actually good but I'm still a bit biased with milder tasting banh mi. This one could be a bit cloying if enjoyed without anything else.
I was a bit hesitant ordering pho as I have read a bunch of mixed reviews about Annam's pho. Some say that it wasn't spectacular given its price while some say that other pho places offer better broth at better prices. But R's and his parents' happy faces made me excited to slurp down some pho
My tastebuds did the happy dance as soon as I took a spoonful of broth. It was actually good! I loved the clean taste of the broth and the lovely herb flavor of it. 
The noodles were also cooked well and each meat was soft and pure joy to eat. I was just a bit bummed that they do not give free beansprouts. You have to pay PHP70 for beansprouts (and some herbs). They also do not serve lemon but provide a handful of calamansi for the desirable tangy kick. 

I was not able to try the other pho and bahn mi ordered but R's parents enjoyed both so I'm assuming that both are great! 
For the drinks, I wasn't too crazy with R's lychee pandan drink as it was a bit weird for me. 

My Vietnamese Iced Coffee was pretty good. It was steep though given that I could easily finish it in three gulps. I had to take tiny sips for my drink to last the whole meal.

While finishing the last bits of noodles and meats, we decided to order desserts and got Vanilla Pudding (PHP150) and Chilled Dried Longan, Lotus Seeds, Water Chestnut and Seaweed Dessert (PHP180). 
The Vanilla Pudding with caramel sauce on top was a dream. The silky texture of the pudding and its light taste created a sharp contrast against the rich caramel sauce and (what seemed to be a) taro chip. The end result was a marvelous sweet ending! The serving size was just too small for its price but I'd gladly order another one. It was that good! 
I wasn't too crazy with the chilled dried longan with lotus seeds, water chestnuts and seaweed as it made my throat itch. R's parents liked it though given that they are fans of water chestnuts. 

Overall, it was one lovely meal. Though some of the dishes are pricey, I'll surely come back here for more pho! That's pho sure! 

Annam is located at Unit 1880-4, Ground Floor, 1880 Building, Eastwood Avenue, Libis, Quezon City. 

Annam Noodle Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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