Critic’s own joint has recipe for success

Chua Lam Pho, the renowned food writer’s eponymous eaterie, tempts the palate with an authentic taste of Southeast Asia

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 September, 2018, 3:01pm
UPDATED : Friday, 07 September, 2018, 3:00pm

Chua Lam Pho

UG/F, 15-25 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong

When food critic Chua Lam opened his first eponymous restaurant, his reputation as one of the most revered food critics in Asia instantly gave Chua Lam Pho must-try appeal.

Chua inherited the recipes in his new restaurant from his all-time favourite, Pho Dzung in Melbourne, and gave its Asian counterpart a contemporary upgrade. Opened in early July, the Hong Kong joint spans two floors. The interiors are fashioned by Japanese architect Jo Nagasaka in a minimalist style, with cutlery by Hong Kong-based studio Milk Design.

The menu is simple, straightforward and wallet-friendly. The special beef pho (HK$128) is a plentiful bowl featuring seven meats, including slim raw beef, beef brisket, tendons and adventurous options like beef pizzle. For a simpler layer, pick two favourite cuts (HK$68) and garnish with fresh herbs like Thai Basil, coriander and lime for a distinct flavour.

Pho is all about the broth, which can make or break the dish. The soup here is refreshingly tasty with a touch of sweetness, reworked for contemporary and healthy diets.

Spicy food lovers should try the vermicelli soup bowl (HK$68) offered in two styles: red oil and Vietnamese. The former is a bold statement in look and smell, but is less intimidatingly spicy, while the sour and spicy Vietnamese version heats up the taste buds. Make use of the free noodle refill and match it with various soups.

The grilled lemongrass pork neck is tender and appetising; eat it alone or go for the combo with fried spring rolls and cold vermicelli (HK$68). Order the stir-fried water spinach with shrimp paste (HK$38) to spice up the Southeast Asian culinary experience; finish off with durian ice cream (HK$39) and a fairly strong Vietnamese drip coffee (HK$29).