A pleasant, laid-back spot, Pho Rest stands out from the pack of culinary offerings in the new Crystal Galleria Mall. Situated on the top level of the building just near Jing’an Temple, the restaurant was already a full house on our lunchtime visit. We stayed in the sleek comfort of Pho Rest’s wood and marble interior, but a spacious outside terrace with views of the bustling city below looks to be a promising addition when warmer weather finally arrives.
Our meal kicked off with a range of flavorful snacks: boasting four chicken-wing-sized shrimps and succulent lettuce leaves, the sugar cane shrimp (RMB38) deserves a golden star. Fresh shrimps are ground to a paste before being wrapped around sugar canes, fried to a golden brown and served piping hot. A healthy plate of green winged beans (RMB38) was refreshingly light and delicate, as was the large portion of papaya shrimp salad (RMB42).
Also worth trying is the aromatic lemongrass curry chicken (RMB68) as well as a pot of warming Vietnamese clam soup (RMB58).
For the main event, the raw beef pho comes in two sizes: RMB42 for large and RMB32 for small. As the Taiwanese restaurant manager explained, the beef bone-based pho is stewed for over 24 hours, resulting in a clear consommé exuding savory, enticing aromas. Top-quality raw beef slices arrive separately; cuts of tender and luscious meat, ready to soak in the rich flavors of the hot soup.
With dishes aimed at both Vietnamese and French palates, desserts made by Michelin-star chef Ou Yu were a definite highlight.
The iced beauty chocolate lava cake (RMB38) was freshly baked, with a liquid hot cocoa sauce rich enough to transport you to chocolate Mecca. 'When orange meets Tiramisu' (RMB38) sees tiramisu sitting in a halved orange, stewed with white rum for 24 hours – a tantalizing mix of flavors that pack a serious punch.
Don’t find yourself in Jing’an very often? Fear not; there are two more branches planned around town by the end of the year.
Price: Approx. RMB100 per person
Who’s going: local office workers and expats
Good for: Casual dining, healthy eating
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