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A ‘sneak slurp’ at Phat Pho

THE PEPPER MILL - Pepper Teehankee (The Philippine Star) - February 25, 2014 - 12:00am

“Why is Pepper inside if it’s closed?” someone asked at the door. “It’s a soft opening and we will open tomorrow,’” the staff answered as they politely turned him away. It turned out we knew each other and he wanted to eat there that night. Phat Pho, even before it opened, had to turn people away already.

People knew that the restaurant was “open” even before it opened. I had even posted a photo of the soft opening on Facebook and another friend commented that he was so happy that they opened here as he enjoyed the food so much in Cebu! Yes, Phat Pho is a franchise of Phat Pho in Cebu. 

The Moment Group, restaurateurs responsible for concept-driven restaurants ‘Cue, Burger Bar, 8Cuts and Namnam, has brought to Manila one of Cebu’s most exciting concepts: the Vietnamese noodle shop Phat Pho. It is a modern street-style noodle shop with casual counter-style quick-service that caused a stir in Cebu when it opened less than a year ago. Now, Manila will get to experience its flavorful dishes in Serendra, Bonifacio Global City.  This is the Moment Group’s first collaboration with the equally successful Abaca Group of Cebu, whose lineup of restaurants include Maya, Tavolata, the new Lebanese restaurant Beqaa and the Abaca Boutique Resort+Restaurant. 

Abba Napa of the Moment Group said, “This was something we personally loved from Cebu and felt would be great to have in our own backyard. Phat Pho adds variety to a dining scene. And that is what we ourselves have always strived to achieve with our own establishments.”

A few days before Phat Pho officially opened its doors, the Moment Group’s Abba Napa, Eliza Antonino and Jon Syjuco, together with Abaca Group’s Jason and Anna Hyatt welcomed friends and food enthusiasts for a “sneak slurp” where guests were first to try Phat Pho’s dishes.

Guests tried goi cuon (rice rolls) with slow-roasted pork, chilled shrimp, marinated tofu, crispy egg rolls, com chien (fried rice) and gluten-free dishes like homemade fish cakes and satays, or Phat Pho’s version of the banh mi.  And of course there was the pho, Vietnam’s classic noodle soup — warming, clean and full of flavor. The pho was as good as the ones I had in Vietnam and I have been there over 20 times and ate pho every time I went. Phat Pho even had a spicy version of pho, which I really liked... yes, I won’t deny I ate two bowls of pho that night! The satays were very flavorful and soft... I had all three kinds: beef, chicken and pork.

I capped off the night with coconut cream puffs and Vietnamese coffee to celebrate Manila’s newest dining spot. Truly, the food and service were perfect. They should have just not had a “soft opening” and allowed my friend to enter and eat there that night. Everything was perfect already and is ready to serve Manila!

(Phat Pho Manila is a Moment Group venture, and an Abaca Group concept. It is located at the Ground Floor of Serendra, Bonifacio Global City. It is open daily from  11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Check out Phat Pho Manila on Facebook and @PhatPhoManila on Twitter and Instagram. For more information, call 843-0820.)

The mythical horses of Ramon Diaz

I guess it was apt for artist Ramon Diaz to paint horses this year. This year, after all, is the Year of the Horse.

Friends and family gathered for the opening of his exhibit at the lobby of the New World Makati Hotel. Guests kept going back to Ramon’s three-dimensional painting, which “moves” as one passes from left to right.

The horse is also a revered animal in both Eastern and Western cultures. To the Chinese, with its rich history of horses, it symbolizes heroism and strength. The Chinese goddess Kuan Yin has a white celestial cloud horse that flies through the heavens, bringing peace and blessings. English folktales tell us of Lady Godiva who rode naked on a horse to save her town from debt. Greek legend tells of the winged steed, Pegasus, born of Medusa, who carried heroes on his back. 

Ramon Diaz has always had a passion for Oriental culture, which shows up in three recurring leitmotifs: sumo, koi and the horse. In the Year of the Horse, Diaz presents a selection of horse paintings that show his fascination with the equine form and movement. The artist has done long research on the horse from the Tang dynasty, the golden age of Chinese culture. Diaz paints the graceful slope of its neck, its broad body, and sturdy legs as a creature of force and power, grace, and movement. The Tang horse, whose mighty power in battles has been acclaimed by poets and painters throughout the ages, is again brought into relevance by Diaz. Depictions of this horse are said to bring good luck to its owner.     

Alice Guillermo wrote that Diaz has “an unerring eye to detail and elegance.” Educated in the Philippines, Germany, Belgium, England and the Netherlands, Diaz’s many travels have influenced and shaped the landscape of his paintings. He has been exhibited in Novotel, Paris, Lumen Gallery, New York; Anagama Gallerie, Versailles, France; and Steuben Glass Museum, New York among others. His murals are displayed at the PLDT headquarters in Makati City, Hyatt Manila, Filinvest — the Palms and Country Club and El Nido Resorts.

 

(The exhibit was in partnership with Galleria Duemila. For more information, call Thess Ponce or Mark Arvin Patiag of Galleria Duemila at 831-9990 or 833-9815,  e-mail  gduemila@gmail.com or visit www.galleriaduemila.com.)

CEBU COM DIAZ HORSE MOMENT GROUP PHAT PHAT PHO PHO
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