So Pho at Novena Square / Paragon

So Pho
B1-20, The Paragon
290 Orchard Road
Singapore 238859
Tel: +65 6235 0414

Opening Hours
Daily 11am to 10pm

Halalicious Rating: 8/10
Halal status: Halal-certified
Average spend per pax: S$16 including drinks
Recommended dishes: Summer roll (S$4.80), Beef Pho (S$8.80)

I was delighted to find out So Pho, a Vietnamese chain in Singapore, had gotten its halal certification a few months ago. There is a branch in Paragon, which is pretty central for those looking for halal food in the area, and also others at NEX, Tampines Mall, JEM, and Novena Square. For branch details, you can check out their website here.  To date, I’ve tried the Paragon and Novena branches so the photos are going to be a mixture of both locations’.

My favourite starter is the Summer Rolls with Prawns and Lemongrass Chicken (S$4.80 for 3), and they cut the 3 rolls into halves so you effectively get 6 mini-bites! Yum!

So Pho Summer Rolls Closeup 2

SO PRETTY!!! We’d eaten 3 halves by this point – too hungry, and too good ❤

I really like this starter since it’s pretty healthy and not fried or overly processed. The rice wrap has a good texture – slightly elastic so it holds the ingredients well, but tender and not dry – and thanks to the vegetables there is a satisfying crunch when you bite into it. The Vietnamese dipping sauce that comes with the rolls is also top notch – I’m guessing some fish sauce in it too, so it is nice and savoury. 9/10

My go-to main at So Pho is the Pho Bo, or Sliced Beef Noodles (S$8.80):

So Pho - Beef Brisket Pho

The hot pho broth is umami and super comforting on days when you just want something soupy and delicious. The pieces of coriander are heaven. HEAVEN! I love coriander. I also find it a must to squeeze as much lime into the broth – it is much more refreshing when there is a great tang contrasting with the soup. Ditto for the cut chilli padi – it gives the soup a slight kick. The beansprouts though, can step to the left.

So Pho - Beef Pho

The beef slices are great too – they’re not overcooked and tough, but slightly pink and tender. I think you get the odd sinewy piece or two if you’re unlucky, but otherwise, can’t complain. 8.5/10

I was delighted to find that So Pho serves the famous Hanoi delicacy, Cha Ca La Vong (S$10.80, pronounced chah-gah-lah-vong). It consists of hotplate fish fillets served with some dill, and a plate of rice vermicelli noodles on the side:

So Pho - Cha Ca Vermicelli Noodles

I was slightly disappointed with this dish because the original version in Hanoi comes with a bowl of fish sauce, which you mix in with the noodles and some peanuts, so you can calibrate the ingredients and tastes to your own liking. However, So Pho’s version did not actually come with the fish sauce – just a bowl of watery chilli sauce (pictured), and the dill is just placed on top of the fish.

The fish tasted a little too oily and slightly soggy for my taste, but I reckon it could have been sitting out on the counter for a little too long. I wish the fish and the sauce could have been tastier and more savoury too, but maybe I’ll give this a go at the Novena branch next time. 7/10 for now.

On another visit, I also tried the Vietnamese Fried Rice with Seafood (S$9.80):

So Pho - Special Seafood Rice

This was a mistake guys; one that would surely teach me for ordering fried rice at an establishment with Pho in its name. It’s not that it was really bad – it was just pretty average. It was a little bland, and there was just not enough flavour or ingredients to keep me satisfied. For this price I could get two plates of amazing fried rice from Cahaya. Or, a plate of ayam penyet and a drink! Bottomline: Stick with the pho! 7/10

Overall I would definitely go back to So Pho because of the simplicity and freshness of the summer rolls, and the comforting pho. The food is pretty affordable (most mains under $$10) and of decent quality. I’ll end off with some extra photos for you guys to enjoy 🙂

So Pho - Mixed Appetizer

The Mixed Appetizer (S$10.80) – Prawn Cakes, Summer Rollsm and Fried Spring Roll

So Pho - Table Spread

The spread during one of the visits

So Pho - Menu PhoSo Pho - Specials menuSo Pho - Fried Noodles Menu

So Pho
B1-20, The Paragon
290 Orchard Road
Singapore 238859
Tel: +65 6235 0414

Opening Hours
Daily 11am to 10pm

Halalicious Rating: 8/10
Halal status: Halal-certified
Average spend per pax: S$16 including drinks
Recommended dishes: Summer roll (S$4.80), Beef Pho (S$8.80)

Cahaya At Far East Plaza

Cahaya Muslim Halal Restaurant
#05-91/92 Far East Plaza
14 Scotts Road
Singapore 228213

Opening Hours
Daily 11:30am to 09:00pm
Notes: Cash only!

Halal Status: Halal-certified
Halalicious Rating: 10/10

Average spend per pax: S$9

Back when I was an angsty teen I used to go to Far East Plaza a lot with my friends after school, mostly for food and for some shopping. Our favourite place to eat was Dahlia’s Cafe, which used to be on the 5th floor right in front of the lifts. I would always get the Bee Hoon Bandung, which was absolutely perfect – the soup was so good and so spicy, and I swear I would spend the first 5 minutes just sipping on the broth before getting started on the noodles and the other ingredients. Yum. Unfortunately, Dahlia’s Cafe closed a couple of years ago to be replaced by some cafe I don’t even bother to remember the name of.

Nowadays I like to get my cheap-but-good food fix from Cahaya Restaurant, just around the corner from the erstwhile Dahlia’s Cafe. The menu is pretty standard:

FullSizeRender_1 FullSizeRender

With these old nostalgic places I tend to be a creature of habit, so whenever I’m here I always get the Beef Fried Rice With Chicken Topping (S$6), although I did go through a Chilli Crab Sauce Rice (Jimba Rice) phase a few months ago.

Cahaya_Beef_Fried_Rice_With_Chicken

Cahaya_Beef_Fried_Rice_Closeup

Mmmm what’s better than chicken? Chicken AND beef!!

This plate literally has everything – it’s got moist, fluffy, spicy rice, it’s got juicy beef slices at the bottom of the plate, and then it’s got tasty chicken slices on top! For you healthy types, you’ll be pleased to know the rice comes some bits of mixed vegetables, so everyone can party! It’s a dish for everyone, and my absolute favourite thing to have at this place. I can safely say it’s one of the most satisfying plates one can have for lunch (the Novena Nasi Padang comes close) . The price point is also very attractive – S$6 is a small price to pay for a plate of goodness, my friend. 10/10

My Far East lunch buddy and I like to share a small plate of Fried Wantan (S$3) on top of our rice when we’re feeling greedy:

Cahaya_Wantan1

YUMMAYYYY pockets of crispy golden brown crunch

Truth be told they’re not very generous with the filling, but hey it’s a whole plate for $3! The texture is spot on – so, so crispy and surprisingly not oily! 10/10

I have to warn you guys though, the plate of wantan comes with this horrid, bitter black sauce. I’m not sure what it’s supposed to be, maybe tar, but you HAVE to ask them not to add it, since it’s a default sauce that comes with every order of wantan!

Sometimes, we would forget to tell them not to add it, and then this happens:

Cahaya_Wantan

Worse than BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill 😦

Basically the perimeter of the plate becomes just another surface for us to wipe the icky black sauce off our wantans. My advice is to eat the wantan with this amazing chilli sauce available on every table:

Cahaya_Condiments

There are two communal cups of sauces at each table – one is filled with this spicy, delicious chilli sauce; the kinds they serve with Hainanese chicken rice. I LOVE dipping my wantans in this sauce, and also drizzling it over my rice sometimes. It’s really very very good! The other cup is filled with green chili in vinegar, or lada jeruk in Malay, which is not really my thang, but those who do love it will be pleased they have it here!

Overall Cahaya is a reliable go-to place to get your hawker food fix at really affordable prices, and it’s situated in the Orchard area too, so it’s very convenient if you’re doing some shopping or watching a movie in the area. Service is efficient though not the friendliest at times (depending on which server you get), but it’s ok since they get my food to me real quickly and that’s what matters in a place like this! Plus there’s no gst/service charge here so one can’t fault them for not trying to charm you! You guys should definitely check this place out 🙂

Cahaya Muslim Halal Restaurant
#05-91/92 Far East Plaza
14 Scotts Road
Singapore 228213

Opening Hours
Daily 11:30am to 09:00pm
Notes: Cash only!

Halal Status: Halal-certified
Halalicious Rating: 10/10

Average spend per pax: S$9