noodle soup

Pho Vietnamese Restaurant and Noodle Bar (Rotterdam, Netherlands): All the Vietnamese Food You Crave

THE STORY

On my sixth visit to Pho Restaurant and Noodle Bar, I thought to myself

Did I like the Bun Bo Hue? Was it spicy enough?

So I visited this blog - my blog - to remember, and I realized that I hadn’t written a review for it.

I’ve been here countless times since, and I’m only just now getting around to it! Lately I’ve been spending more time working on my freelancing business and cooking at home, so my Asian restaurant adventures aren’t as frequent.

Pho Vietnamese Restaurant Noodle Bar Rotterdam Netherlands bun bo hue soup

Considering, however, that Pho Restaurant and Noodle Bar is my go-to restaurant to scratch my Vietnamese food craving, it is long overdue for a review.

The restaurant seems small at first, but it can easily seat 40 to 50 people. The inside is vibrant but still gezellig (cozy), and while you may want a reservation for a Friday or Saturday night, you won’t usually need one.

Pho Vietnamese Restaurant and Noodle Bar offers almost everything I miss about Vietnamese food (I’m still looking for a restaurant that offers tendon in their pho).

Pho Vietnamese Restaurant and Noodle Bar Rotterdam Netherlands soup

THE REVIEW

First, the bun bo hue. The first time I went, I was overwhelmed by the number of options I had, though I knew I wanted noodle soup. The Ramen Marauder ordered the pho, so I ordered the bun bo hue.

I would describe the spicy level as refreshing: it wasn’t so spicy that I couldn’t enjoy it, but it also wasn’t so underwhelming that I questioned whether they even added any spice to it. The portion was more generous that most Vietnamese restaurants we’ve seen in Europe.

The Ramen Marauder was particularly excited about his pho with everything. Not only was it a large portion, but Pho Vietnamese Restaurant and Noodle Bar also puts hoisin on their tables - another uncommon finding in Europe.

I also had the pho on another visit, and it was quite satisfying. This is a good pho for anyone who hasn’t tried it before. The broth is flavorful but not overly spiced, and the noodle/toppings/broth ratio is superb. Whenever I go with people who aren’t as familiar with Vietnamese food, and they order the pho, they finish it.

Pho Vietnamese Restaurant Noodle Bar Rotterdam Netherlands bun bo xao vermicelli

I have also enjoyed the bun bo xao: vermicelli noodles with stir-fried beef, vegetables, and herbs. This is a delicious alternative to noodle soup that is just as filling. As someone with a peanut allergy, I’ve ordered it without peanuts and had no problems.

Whether you’re craving Vietnamese food right now or are simply curious, you will find something to enjoy at Pho Vietnamese Restaurant and Noodle Bar. Unless you’re a total snob about your Vietnamese food experience, in which case, this is not the place for you (my blog or the restaurant).


Pho Vietnamese Restaurant and Noodle Bar, West-Kruiskade 1-A, 3014 AJ Rotterdam, Nederland, +31 10 3070387

Umamido (Brussels, Belgium): Big Ramen Bowls in a Small Space

THE STORY

As usual, my day centered around visiting this ramen spot, which opened at noon. This meant I had time to have coffee and a bite beforehand.

I decided to visit a Portuguese bakery (because why not?) within a healthy walk’s distance from Umamido. This way I could have my coffee and small breakfast bite a couple hours before destroying a bowl of ramen.

While walking to Umamido, however, I decided to eat a pastel de nata I had purchased to go.

Rookie mistake.

I didn’t need the pastel de nata. I just wanted it.

Umamido Ramen Restaurant Flagey Brussels Belgium Asian Japanese Noodle Soup

When you go out for ramen, it’s good practice to show up hungry. Of course, this can be dangerous if you’re also walking the thin line between appropriately hungry and hangry.

When I finally arrived at Umamido, I worried that I wasn’t hungry enough. But it seemed too late for another walk around the block.

Umamido Flagey Brussels Belgium sign graphic design

Umamido has five or six 2-top tables inside, and maybe four seats at the bar. The space is so intimate that I couldn’t get into my seat without brushing against the table next to me. There’s just the chef and the waiter - any more than that and it’d be a crowd.

THE REVIEW

I had the Ramen of the Chef, which is described as “The ultimate ramen, spicy, fatty, salty, totally Umamido, the bowl that feeds the soul.” This description is not wrong.

This was a bowl of ramen unlike any other I’d ever had.

Ramen of the Chef Umamido Restaurant Flagey Brussels Belgium Asian Japanese Noodle Soup

What was most intimidating was the bacon, if that’s what you would call it. Just one look at these two slabs of crispy, meaty pork and I knew I was doomed. There was no way I could finish this bowl.

But I happily accepted the challenge.

And instead of corn, there were green peas. While not as sugary sweet as corn kernels, they still added a refreshing flavor and texture. The raw red onion and rocket were also a wonderful surprise.

With the added pinch of kimchi, this ramen was spicier than I expected. But that’s what beer is for.

I recommend this spot for ramen lovers both new and veteran. It’s not a traditional or typical ramen joint, but you’re also not a traditional or typical traveler if you’re seeking ramen in Brussels.


Umamido Flagey (there are seven locations, one food truck, and no reservations), Chaussee de Vleurgat 1, 1050 Elsene, Ixelles, Belgium

Pho 61 (Antwerp, Belgium): A Vietnamese Restaurant in the City Center

THE STORY

Antwerp, Belgium was never on my list of places to visit until a friend in Germany asked if I wanted to meet her there on a September Saturday. Just an hour train ride from Rotterdam, I figured it was an easy day-trip.

Easy to get to, hard to leave.

Pho 61 Vietnamese Restaurant Antwerp Belgium Bun Cha Ban Xeo The Asian Craving food and travel Europe

The only other time I had been to Belgium was my visit to Brussels a few years back, which was enjoyable, but did not make other parts of Belgium as desirable to visit. (But as I wrote in my Maru Restaurant post, I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and will absolutely visit Brussels again.)

The city, simply put, is beautiful. In just the first couple hours, I wrote down a handful of restaurants I want to visit in the future, including Super Mercado, which was closed at the time. We walked through a farmer’s market on our way to lunch, wandered through the shopping district, and spent most of the afternoon in the garden of a small beer cafe - so small that at first I thought we had walked into someone’s home.

Cafe Kulminator Antwerp Belgium beer bar The Asian Craving Westvleteren

(Side note: check out the website Beer Hunter. This guy named Michael Jackson passed away in 2007, but his blog has been saved. Take a minute to look at what this beer enthusiast started doing in the mid 90s!)

It was a perfect place to spend time catching up with my friend. We had no agendas in mind, other than to meander. There were plenty of small distractions and unexpected delights that we could have explored, but we only had so many hours (and meals) in the city. The day flew by, and I wish we could’ve spent the whole weekend together in Antwerp.

Pho 61 Vietnamese Restaurant Antwerp Belgium The Asian Craving food and travel in Europe

If you have been following my personal journey in my newsletter, I’ve been busy keeping my life together and less focused on dining at various Asian restaurants (a sad existence, I know). So when we arrived in Antwerp, I hadn’t done any research on where to eat!

Luckily, with the ever-present internet, I learned about Pho 61 through a variety of Instagram hashtags and accounts. With a name as simple as a word and a number, that was all I needed to know.

As we approached the restaurant, I grew hesitant - was a Vietnamese restaurant in the old City Center really that good? Yes, yes it was.

Pho 61 Vietnamese Noodle Soup Restaurant Antwerp Belgium The Asian Craving food and travel Europe

THE REVIEW

Our group of seven plus a baby ordered a variety from the menu at Pho 61, including Vietnamese carpaccio, fried won tons, dumplings, bun cha, and pho. If you enjoy the funky freshness of Vietnamese cuisine, as well as raw beef, the carpaccio was delightful. The won tons and dumplings were standard delicious (not many are included in a single order though).

The highlight though of the meal was, of course, the pho. The broth was hearty, with a strong cinnamon flavor. As I’ve mentioned previously, the pho here doesn’t seem as salty, and at times is too oily. This pho was indeed not as salty as in the States, but thankfully was not oily. I had the pho with beef balls, which I recommend, though others seemed quite pleased with their sliced beef. I heard the bun cha was pretty good, too.

If you’re with a large group of people who just want some good, flavorful food in Antwerp, visit Pho 61.


Pho 61, Grote Markt 42, Antwerp, Belgium 2000, +32 3 232 90 13