In recent years, a deluge of Vietnamese restaurants have surfaced, bringing delicious Pho, a spice-filled broth served with rice noodles, to the public. For gourmands like me, I couldn’t be happier. Lemongrass and herbs, rice and noodles, all fresh and remarkably healthy – how could one resist such delicacy?
Recently, news happened to travel into my ears that a new pho restaurant opened in Garosougil, a tourist hot-spot bustling with trendsetters, fashionistas, and foodies. As food and passion go naturally hand in hand for me, I was psyched to see if the rave behind the idea extended to the food itself.
Located just around the corner of the massive School Food building was a little establishment with bright yellow-and-orange lights flashing its name: Emoi.
The interior was nice and cozy, with wooden walls and interesting looking lamp lights giving off a warm glow all around the atmosphere. As expected, almost all tables were occupied, the whole place humming with the sound of servers scurrying around and the delightful chatter of people filling the air. I was lucky enough to grab a table just beside the window.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t get hold of any pictures of the menu itself, but it was very simple and only consisted of six dishes: Pho Bo, Premium Pho, Bun Cha Gio Tom Nuong, Fried Rice, Nem Chua, and Stir-Fried Water Spinach. Within the Premium Pho, the dish was further divided into three different phos – Smoky-Flavored Pho, Beef Brisket Pho, and Tender Beef Brisket Pho. They all looked absolutely delicious, but due to the shortage of ingredients, I had to order the Smoky-Flavored Pho instead of the regular Pho Bo, along with Beef Brisket Pho, Bun Cha, and Fried Rice.
After about ten minutes, the first two dishes arrived: the Smoky-Flavored Pho and Beef Brisket Pho, Hanoi style. One interesting thing I noticed was that unlike other Vietnamese restaurants, Emoi did not provide the regular double-sauce condiments but rather, just a little side-dish of sliced cayenne peppers. Customers could separately ask for sriracha, but I decided to leave the broth as it is and taste its untouched flavor. The Smoky-Flavored Pho did live up to its name; the beef was cooked on fire, which made the broth heartier and generate a deeper, savory taste. On the other hand, Beef Brisket Pho had a clearer broth, and as I sipped it I could definitely detect more of the spicy flavor coming from the peppers that the Smoky-Flavored Pho concealed. I personally preferred the Beef Brisket Pho, which best resembled the original pho itself, although both were very pleasant.
Next up was the Fried Rice. The dish consisted of a lovely mix of thin jasmine rice, little spring onion chunks, sliced carrots, egg, etc, all stirred well together to create a scrumptious combination. No other words were needed – I promptly dove in and ended up finishing it in less than twenty minutes. So pho, so good.
Last but not least, the pièce de résistance arrived at the table: Bun Cha. When the plate showed up, it was like peering into a gift box – lots and lots of nice things to discover. The fat wonton-style meatballs were nestled in with raw vermicelli rice noodles, tender pork belly, and fried Nem Chua rolls served alongside a handful of nose-stinging cilantro and a special type of nuoc cham sauce. The sauce had a sweet and sour taste, rather piquant, with ground garlic and carrots that could either be tipped over the whole dish or eaten separately. The beef stock itself was especially rich, had multi-layered flavors, and was overall wholesome and comforting.
Worth the hype? Word of mouth? Intrigue? Whatever. This restaurant is perfect for a meal for two, a crowd of friends or a solo lunch with the kitchen for minimum company. As always, pho is a welcome and very affordable addition to the Garosougil dining scene. Emoi is a must-go.
– Ashley Kim (‘18)