I usually go to Phobidden Fruit, our friendly neighborhood Vietnamese restaurant, with my four-year-old niece. I have to admit – Bangalore, in general, looks a little more interesting when you’re traveling with a four-year-old. Especially one who’s crazy about Bob Marley, old-school pubs and politely tells waiters in Toit that she’d prefer to hang out with the smokers.
The company you keep
Here, she bullies waiters, drops chopsticks, takes long supervisory walks. She loses interest in food between starters and desserts. And we find ourselves unconsciously following her footsteps. Starters are a hell of a lot more fun, after all. In this restaurant, starters are not just things you nibble on while you wait.
Starters to stop with
Instead, you have lettuce cups filled with beef – well-cooked, strongly spiced meat in a refreshing ‘cup’ of lettuce. I’m usually a vegetable-and-meat separator, but even I can’t resist the contrast and vibrancy of the combination. We also love the beef Bo La Lot; this time rolled in betel leaves, and it definitely might cut down your desire for a main course.
The Mekong momos are the best you can find this side of the delta and the Vietnamese Chicken Sambal is so full of melt-in-your-mouth goodness, you’re left looking for more. The Viet Spare Ribs are great if you’re not looking at a main course at all.
To Pho or not to Pho?
As for the main course, I’ve often looked at Pho, which is of course their namesake dish. I’ve left the ordering of it to other people. It tastes great, but it’s huge, a soupy-noodle-dish with meat, sea food or veg options. It arrives in a bowl that would shock those of us who grew up with by-two soups that we still didn’t finish. I tell myself I’ll order it the day I can resist the starters.
On the other hand, Congee, in the soup section, which bears a striking resemblance to the Malayali kanji, arrives in a more manageable size, also comes in a meat-lovers’ version, and is infinitely satisfying. Banh Mi, a loaded baguette, is a better option for those who have trouble finishing their food.
Never mind, what’s for dessert?
Now the four-year-old is bored. So, naturally, talk turns to dessert. I love that we don’t have to choose between the same-old-cheesecake-and-walnut-brownie options. Instead, we hover over lemongrass ice cream, and pick on, usually, a coconut sorbet and Mung Bean Pudding. If you’re a bean-hater, not to worry, so am I. Mung Bean Pudding was invented to reconcile us carnivores to vegetables and fruit. It’s creamy, juicy, not too sweet, and worth making room for.
Our Vietnam-returned friends came back singing praises of Vietnamese coffee, which prompted us to finally try something that wasn’t beer on the beverage list. Basically, it’s a strong coffee with condensed milk replacing regular milk. Surprisingly, it’s not that sweet, and the cold variation is quite addictive on a hot day. We chalk it up as the new permanent fixture on our order list.
How to Get There
Where: 965, 12th Main, HAL 2nd Stage, Off 100 Feet Road, Indiranagar, Bangalore
Contact: 080 41255175 | 080 41107735
Timing: All Days 12 Noon to 3:30 PM, 7 PM to 11 PM
Cost: ₹1,100 for two people