I feel like one of the hardest things to duplicate is the Vietnamese pho. The first time I ever had pho locally it seemed pretty good, but all that changed when I visited Vietnam and got a dose of reality. I still remember that time we went to this little roadside restaurant in Ho Chi Minh for a bowl of some of the best pho in my life.
It’s been years, but a part of me still remembers the impact that bowl of pho made. Not necessarily how it tasted exactly, but how I felt after that first sip of broth. And since then it’s been kind of a struggle. Granted I haven’t visited ALL the Vietnamese places here in Manila, but I am constantly hunting for a place I can frequent that kind of replicates that Ho Chi Minh experience.
In my search, I wound up at Tra Vinh.
Tra Vinh has been around for a while, and it seems like this place does not lose its magic. Reviews about it are always so positive, and that only fuels my excitement. Interestingly, this restaurant did not originate from Vietnam but from Australia, but it was founded by a Vietnamese immigrant named Van Chien Ho.
Somehow the award-winning restaurant found its way to the Philippines. Aren’t we lucky?
The charm of Tra Vinh is that it doesn’t try to be too flashy. It looks and feels more like a family-friendly restaurant, with Vietnamese elements as decorations. You can even see that majority of the clientele here are families eating out together. Restaurants like these rely heavily on letting their food do the talking, and they again rely on their customers to talk about them to other possible customers afterwards. 🙂
Speaking of food, I was utterly impressed by the extensiveness of their menu. You may think that you’ve come here for just noodles, but it’s tempting not to order anything else! And that’s how we ended up with a table loaded with lots of food, and actually, we didn’t end up with any pho at all!
Special Fresh Spring Rolls with Prawn and Pork (Php 180 for 2 rolls)
Rice paper rolls filled with fresh salad, vermicelli noodles, plus prawn and pork. Served with Tra Vinh’s peanut sauce blend.
As you can see, these spring rolls are fat and generously filled. That alone is already a plus on my book. Some restaurants would give you spring rolls on a diet, but Tra Vinh gladly lets you enjoy theirs. That said, this tastes like any other Vietnamese Spring Roll, and personally I prefer a fish sauce-calamansi dip over peanut sauce.
Crispy Vietnamese Pancake (Php 250) 🌟
Omelette “pancakes” made using rice flour and coconut milk in the batter, then filled with shrimp, pork, and veggies.
These pancakes are then wrapped in lettuce with mustard leaves and herbs, then drizzled with Tra Vinh’s special dressing.
What an interesting way to eat eggs! This “pancake” is actually more like a well-shaped omelette since it is egg-based. Anyway, the thing that I really like about Vietnamese cuisine is how it places a focus on veggies and produce. Since I do like my veggies, I was delighted by this Vietnamese Pancake, wrapped in crisp and fresh lettuce.
The taste of this dish as a whole is mild, but the drizzle of sauce adds some much needed flavor boost. I really found myself liking this.
Tra Vinh Special Noodle Soup (Php 299 for Large)
Tra Vinh’s original blend of seafood and chicken broth, topped with pork loin slices, fresh prawns and squid, slices of pork liver, fish balls, quail eggs, and Tra Vinh’s signature prawn crackers.
When it comes to Vietnamese noodle soups, it seems I’m more a fan of the pho or the beef based noodle soups. This one didn’t quite sit that well with my tastebuds because it had a weird aftertaste. I think the pork elements clashed with the seafood and chicken broth, and so I wasn’t a big fan of this. It’s not bad, but it’s just not my type.
Spicy Combination Noodle Soup (Php 299 for Large) 🌟
Tra Vinh’s special 3-meat broth with 14 herbs and spices, topped with slices of New Zealand rib-eye, fresh prawns and squid, beef balls, fish balls, and garden fresh herbs.
NOW we’re talking! My love for this noodle soup isn’t just because of how much I love spicy things, but because this tasted pretty damn good! The thin slices of rib-eye perfectly complemented this hearty broth, and I just loved that heat with every sip of the soup! Yes to everything else they added in here as well!
Tra Vinh Special Lemongrass Chicken (Php 288) 🌟
Quarter leg chicken slow cooked and marinated in a mixture of lemongrass and special herbs and spices.
Always a classic, I feel like the Lemongrass Chicken can do no wrong. I actually don’t know why we ordered this because we cook this dish a lot at home, but this was yummy! (Hence the star!) The smell and the taste of lemongrass permeated the sweet-savory sauce and the tender chicken. Next time we should try something else haha!
Tra Vinh Special Fried Rice (Php 240 for Ala Carte)
I’m always at a loss for describing fried rice dishes. This is quite a normal one. Really good eaten with the Lemongrass Chicken.
Vietnamese Iced Coffee (Php 90 per glass) 🌟
Absolutely a must to end every Vietnamese meal. ALWAYS.
There’s nothing much I can say about Tra Vinh except that it hits all the important points for a restaurant that would make anyone want to keep coming back: good food, good value for money, good ambiance. What started out as a trip to satisfy pho cravings turned into the discovery of a great Vietnamese place. The home-cooked style of dishes this restaurant serves up makes it more relatable as well. I almost feel like you can pick anything random off the menu and you won’t feel disappointed.
Even though we didn’t end up ordering any pho (lol we got distracted by the other pictures!) my cravings were satisfied by what we did order. I’d come back for that piping hot bowl of Spicy Combination Noodle Soup any day! And to be entirely honest with you, I already made it a goal to try every single noodle soup option in this menu:
How ironic is it that I didn’t like the house special noodle soup dish? My family all enjoyed it fine, so it’s not exactly bad-tasting but it’s just not to my personal taste. If you’ve tried it and liked it, please do let me know. I might give it a second try after I try out the rest of these noodle soups! I will definitely have to order some legit pho next time.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5
109 Unit 3, N.S. Amoranto Sr. Ave.,
cor. Cordillera Ave, Quezon City
Hours: 11AM to 10PM
Contact Nos: (02) 742 1718
Full disclosure: This post is not sponsored in any way and opinions are 100% mine alone.