Vietnamese chicken wings are the unexpected star at P.H.A.T. Pho

COCONUTS HOT SPOT — In a country where buffalo-style and soy garlic dominate the chicken scene, Vietnamese wings don’t get the attention they deserve. 

Perhaps it’s because one doesn’t really go to a Vietnamese restaurant thinking of wings. Vietnamese food almost always means spring rolls and pho and banh mi. And then there’s their really good coffee. 

Vietnamese fish sauce wings are the underdogs of the chicken world, but with their signature sweet, sour, salty and tangy flavor, they deserve the limelight too. 

Where to get them, you ask? They’re available in most Vietnamese restaurants, even the fastfood joints. You probably just don’t notice. 

The particular ones that I’m raving about right now are from P.H.A.T. Pho. 

P.H.A.T. Pho is a Cebu homegrown restaurant developed by the Abaca group. The concept was brought to Manila by Moments, the same guys behind ‘Cue Modern Barbecue, 8Cuts, BurgerBar and NamNam. P.H.A.T. Pho just celebrated two years of serving good Vietnamese food in Manila last month. 

P.H.A.T. Pho has a small, lowkey spot at Serendra. It earned its charm as the casual, friendly, joint in the midst of all the trendy and pricey restaurants in the area. 

Because their space is so small, there is pretty much no room for gimmick. P.H.A.T. Pho’s selling point has to be good food. 

Thankfully, they really did serve us yummy Vietnamese grub at reasonable price points, no gimmicks necessary. 

For PHP175, for example, they served us fresh spring rolls filled to the brim. We picked the one with slow roasted pork. The ingredients were all fresh and tasty. The rolls came with two sauces, but I liked the peanut sauce more. If you want healthier options, shrimp and tofu variants are also available. 

Their spring rolss are packed. PHOTO: Facebook/P.H.A.T. Pho

Next stop, pho. P.H.A.T. stands for pleasantly hot and tasty, and their different kinds of pho definitely lived up to that description. We tried the Pho bo Bien (PHP320/large) or the version of classic beef broth with Vietnamese meatballs. It was served piping hot, topped with bean sprouts corriander and onion. 

Their menu claimed that their pho is almost ready to eat. The broth was light but still very tasty. The herbs used in the preparation blended beautifully. The meatballs were really flavorful and tender. 

Pho-ntastic! PHOTO: Facebook/ P.H.A.T. Pho

For a truly Vietnamese flavor, I felt the need to add all the sauces and condiments in my bowl.

Now for the star of the show, the Vietnamese fish sauce wings. 

P.H.A.T. has an incredibly generous serving of fish sauce wings for only PHP235. The sweet, tangy, garlic-y marinade gave the chicken a very interesting taste. It was so full of favor, just like how Vietnamese food should be. The skin was crispy and tasty, and the flavor just seeped through the tender meat inside. The chicken came with vinegar and it perfectly matched the chicken’s sweet glaze. I can imagine eating these with hot white rice or enjoying them as pulutan with a glass of local beer. 

Underrated Vietnamese chicken wings. PHOTO: Coconuts Manila

Almost a week after my visit, I still can’t fathom why Vietnamese wings aren’t in the list of the most popular chicken wings in town. So my little advocacy is to spread the word and do what I can to make them popular.

Vietnamese wings are the best. If you don’t believe me, go check it out yourself.

G/F Serendra, BGC, Taguig City; +63 2 8430820. Daily 10am-11pm.

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