Food Review: Pho 61 Antwerpen
Pho-bulous Vietnamese Restaurant in Grote Markt Antwerp
Pho 61 Antwerpen started its business on 7 March 2016 selling Vietnamese street food in an upscale touristic area in Antwerp Grote Markt run by the Vietnamese team. Hence, you can be assured of the authenticity of the Vietnamese cuisine. A beautiful Vietnamese lady was also preparing the ingredients and the rice paper for the spring roll.
It was interesting to see how she prepared the spring roll and then, I could learn a trick or two. She first placed the rice paper into the water and then dried the rice paper between two dry cloth by pressing gently. Lastly, she put the ingredients onto the rice paper and rolled, stacking them up eventually.
Pho 61 Restaurant Interior
Pho 61 restaurant has a modern interior with a Vietnamese touch. A huge trishaw is hung on top of the ceiling together with one conical straw hat known as nón lá in Vietnam which serves as an ornamental lighting. Both are symbolic objects of the Vietnamese culture. The trishaw was introduced during the French colonial and known as the cyclo.
Vietnamese Pho – National Dish in Vietnam
Pho is a national dish in Vietnam in which the meat (chicken or beef) and rice vermicelli noodles are cooked in flavoursome broth. Fresh bean sprouts and mint leaves are also eaten with Pho. In Vietnam, Pho is a street food that one can easily eat on every other street. Since my Belgian boyfriend was not familiar with Vietnamese food, I ordered Pho for him to try. The food serving was generous and the soup was delicious.
Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls with Chicken
As for me, one who has been living in Singapore most of my life and exposed to all kinds of Asian food, Vietnamese cuisine is undoubtedly one of my picks. Vietnamese fresh spring roll is my top favourite Vietnamese food. Whenever I go to any Vietnamese restaurant, I will never fail to order the fresh Vietnamese spring roll as a starter if it is available.
It is not easy to get fresh spring rolls in Belgium and other parts of Europe as a street food. Usually, the fried spring rolls, nem are more commonly seen. I guess the storage condition is the reason which makes nem more easy to prepare and sell everywhere. The seller prepares the raw meat and is able to store it in the fridge for a longer time.
On the other hand, the fresh spring roll is folded with damp rice paper which contains rice vermicelli noodles, prawns or cooked marinated meat (choice of chicken or beef), fresh mint leaves and lettuce. A sweet dipping sauce is always served together with the fresh spring roll to enhance the taste.
In Pho 61 Antwerpen, the sweet sauce that they served was below my expectation. It did not taste as good as what I had tried previously in Asian countries. One possible reason is the lack of ingredients in Belgium to make an original Vietnamese dipping sauce. However, I am full of praises for the Vietnamese fresh spring roll with chicken. It was very delectable. The food presentation was very appetising and original.
Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls with Shrimp
The fresh spring roll serving was two pieces. But, it was not enough for me. I wanted more. Therefore, I ordered the Vietnamese fresh spring roll with shrimps for the second round. I had eaten one of them. Thus, you see only one leftover in the photo. The image showed that the wrapped shrimps inside the spring roll were big.
It was distinct that the prawns in the spring roll paled off in flavour as compared to the cooked marinated chicken. The combination of the rice paper, vermicelli noodle and the lettuce were rather bland in taste so the fresh prawn at its best did not titillate the palate.
Personally, having tried both the chicken and the prawn spring rolls on the same day, I would feel that the chicken filling goes well with the spring roll as it is more flavoursome. In conclusion, Pho 61 Antwerpen serves authentic and tasty Vietnamese food. The customer service level was good too. The downside is that the selection of food is quite limited. Pho 61 does not have an array of food choices of what I had expected in a Vietnamese restaurant of this size. Nevertheless, I would highly recommend anyone who loves Vietnamese cuisine to try out this restaurant.
* Check out the food review of Yam Thai Antwerpen Restaurant for two people.
Address of the Restaurant
PHO 61 ANTWERPEN
Grote Markt 42
Tel: +32 3 232 90 13
Daily Operating Hours
12 pm to 2 pm
6 pm to 10 pm
Friday and Saturday until 11 pm
*Closed on Tuesday*