Thursday, March 21, 2019

Phobar in Chinatown is a Vietnamese Noodle Bar Offering Exciting New Menu Items: Deconstructed Phở Pot and 25-Hour Broth

No less a food luminary than Anthony Bourdain is quoted about Vietnam cuisine and his personal noodle soup preferences, "In my way of thinking, in the hierarchy of delicious, slurpy stuff in a bowl, bun bo hue is at the very top." and also, when eating bun bo hue at the Dong Ba market: "People are put on earth for various purposes; I was put on earth to do this. Eat noodles right here."

Well, now you too can slurp away and eat noodles with purpose. Phobar Chinatown opened recently.

Pho means “noodle soup” - and Phobar could very well be the definitive noodle soup eatery in Gotham.

Phobar wrote me (and I especially need this for the formatting of the Vietnamese language punctuation,) “Following the success of their first location in Greenwich Village, chef and owner Mike Khuu and co-owner Li Pien are thrilled to open the second outpost of PhoBar, a contemporary Vietnamese restaurant with a focus on phở in Chinatown (43 Mott Street; 212-267-5400.

Incorporating thoughtful sourcing, quality ingredients and refined culinary techniques, PhoBar highlights the depth and complexity of the country’s traditional dishes.

There is a true noodle bar with a view to the “athletics” of the kitchen and cooks working their magic. There are tables and booths - so lots of seating options for a date, a solo stop, or a friends and family experience.

I loved the dracena-inspired wallpaper and lights!

“Designed by Mike Khuu, PhoBar’s 90-seat space was inspired by the vibrancy of retro Saigon, incorporating vibrant colors and elements reminiscent of the country’s landscape, including bamboo and jungle foliage in the chic and minimalistic space. In a nod to the restaurant’s signature dish (and the acclaimed 2018 film, Crazy Rich Asians), the space also boasts a custom-made neon sign that reads Crazy Rich Broth.”

In another fun nod to the zeitgeist, the wait staff wears T-Shirts extolling the crazy good broth:

“The Chinatown outpost features offerings exclusive to the location, including a Crazy Rich Broth with an unctuous and robust base using Angus prime beef bones sourced from Weichsel Beef/RFM -- one of the oldest butchers in NYC -- available in both 16- and 25-hour options for deeper flavor.

The menu also features additional offerings like the Bún Bò Huế, with slow braised house brisket, sliced beef and Vietnamese ham with spicy beef and pork broth, as well as a Deconstructed Phở Pot, an innovative version of the soup complete with an individual tableside hot pot, designed to keep the broth at an optimal temperature without over cooking the noodles. (check out my stirring prowess in this video!)

The rest of the menu at PhoBar is centered around the eatery’s namesake and signature dish, phở, the rich and comforting rice noodle soup. Reinterpretations of classics include Grilled Lemongrass Chicken Phở, Slow Braised Brisket Phở, and Portobello Mushroom Phở. Signature dishes that take a bit more creative culinary license include Spicy Short Rib Phở,

Snow Crab & Shrimp Riêu, Lobster Phở, and even Surf & Turf Phở. A variety of additional Vietnamese-inspired dishes include Fresh Summer Rolls, Chili Shrimp, and Young Papaya & Mango Salad, as well as versions of the traditional rice and vermicelli dishes Bún or Cơm, with options like Char-Grilled Lemongrass Pork Chops, Shaking Beef, and Fried Catfish, topped with scallions and fried shallots and served with a side of cucumbers, bean sprouts, lettuce, carrots, daikon, and Vietnamese chili sauce.

It’s really a fun and engaging experience to build your pho bowl - and stir up your dish. I think this food fun will resonate especially on a date or with children. Like me! I loved stirring those noodles, just so - as recommended by our waiter. Keep stirring so the noodles cook up just right. Twirling and keeping the noodles soft.

PhoBar’s beverage menu features wine as well as an Asian Beer Bar, highlighting an eclectic mix of beer from countries across the continent including Saigon, Asahi, Flying Horse, Kingfisher, and Hitachino. The menu will also feature non-alcoholic drinks such as an Iced Jasmine Green Tea with Longan Honey and housemade Vietnamese Coffee. PhoBar will introduce a menu of signature cocktails utilizing ingredients such as sugarcane, avocado, lychee, and passionfruit, shortly after opening.
There is Iced Honey Jasmine Green Tea with local honey served in a mason jar. It was a little too fragrant for me but very refreshing.

 The coconut drink was very earthy with a delightful coconut taste - and served right in the fruit (or nut or seed!) I loved this drink. My dining partner - who is a certified dietitian and nutritionist, explained how good the coconut water is for us - the Qui Chi - water and passion fruit in the drink is very hydrating.
I also tried this IPA Beer. Very good with the spicy entrees.

PhoBar sautees their sauces for their fresh spring rolls and summer rolls with is delicious bright way to eat these jewels. They also serve up classic Vietnamese fish sauce.

These rolls look like they are wrapped in glissine -- they are so exuberant - and just as delicious.

The sautéed Brussels Sprouts are WOW -- so creamy yet crispy. 

Phobar's spicy rich broth is cooked in three “tiers:” 8 hours, 16, or 25 hours. The “Crazy Rich Broth” that is cooked with love for the 25 hours is available exclusively at the Chinatown PhoBar. Go for it -- the bone broth is richer and sweeter in taste. This is a singular experience not to be missed.

When we were satiated with the abundance of absolutely tasty and good-looking food - artfully presented, we enjoyed a fresh, light, perfect pineapple dessert.

Even the restroom is well-appointed! Look at this cherry blossom rich loo! Even the ceiling is back lit to showcase pretty pink blooms..
Lovely attention to detail.

The restaurant is open from 11:00am - 11:00pm Monday through Sunday.  I highly recommend PhoBar.  You just can't make this rich, nuanced, ingredient-dependent cuisine at home.  One needs to have grown up with the cooking culture and then know how to pivot to make it a modern and sophisticated take on the dishes.  You can eat here everyday and find something new and exciting.

And it’s always an adventure to explore the exotic sights, sounds, and traditions of Chinatown.



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