I was first introduced to Vietnamese pho (beef rice noodles) when I first visted San Jose, California in 1989. Ever since then, whenever we visit places with Vietnamese community, we would look for pho. Melbourne has good pho restaurants, California and also in Toronto. Of course, my best pho was eaten at a road side stall in Ho Chi Min City, amidst rushing scooters.
I used to visit Mai at Mariner Square regularly for pho. That restaurant served the best pho in Singapore. When Mariner Square underwent renovation, Mai shifted to Plaza Singapura under a new owner, but sadly, the pho was just not up to standard, as are the other restaurants we tried – Orange @ Kiliney Rd, Holland Village and the food court @ Taka – all poor imitation.
Today, Mike took me to one which he was sure would meet my standard. Mon An Muslim Vietnamese Corner, located at Sin Choon Coffee Shop, 10, Jalan Masjid, just behind Kembangan Plaza, opp Kembangan MRT. We ordered two bowls of pho and two spring rolls. The bill was S$11.60. They are closed on Sundays.
The bowl of steaming pho came with a generous portion of tender slices of beef, bean sprouts and served garnished with basil and another herb. The soup was tasty, the pho was soft and the chilli sauce that accompanied the dish was chilli padi hot. Mike and I finished everything up, leaving behind dry bowls.
The fresh spring roll was thin, but the ingredients inside were generous, with beehoon and two slice of prawns and a long strand of spring onion. What I like was the peanut dip, rare in Singapore, where most spring rolls are served with sweet sauce. The peanut dip was delicious.
Note that this is a corner kopitiam, next to a large drain that gives a stench if the wind direction is blowing our way. There is no aircon, unlike the other upmarket Viet restaurants in Singapore. But what you get is as close to what i ate at Ho Chi Min – the food, the atmosphere and the chef- no Chinese cooks here. She is the only Viet who can speak English and Malay there. Her two other Viet helpers do not speak English.
Go try it.