There’s nothing quite like a good bowl of pho to lift one’s mood; both Jien and I recently found the pho from Ara Vietnamese Noodles in Damansara Utama to be quite delicious. In fact, we like this pho even more than our go-to spot in Section 17.
Run by a team of husband and (Vietnamese) wife, Ara Vietnamese Noodles offers a straightforward menu comprising classic Vietnamese favourites such as pho bo, spring rolls, bun cha and BBQ meats. What they don’t serve is banh mi, which is a tad disappointing as I love eating banh mi and beef pho when I’m having Vietnamese food.
During lunch time on a weekend, the place gets pretty crowded so it’s better to get there before noon or after 1pm. We did the latter and immediately found a vacated table to sit down. The Vietnamese Drip Coffee (RM7 – iced) arrived the last, long after all our dishes were served. That said, it’s thick, chocolate-y and of just the right sweetness.
What bowled us over is the Pho Bo (RM12.50) at Ara Vietnamese Noodles – a seemingly simple bowl of Vietnamese beef noodles that packs flavour and depth. Noodles could be smoother but the broth was good. Bolder compared to Jane’s Nem but still balanced in terms of lightness and sweetness.
You also get this crisp, brightness from the lime juice, basil and beansprouts. My only gripe is the scant amount of basil and beansprouts – isn’t that a staple requirement at a Vietnamese restaurant? Or is it because most Malaysians don’t appreciate putting that much beansprouts and basil into their pho? Food for thought.
The Lemongrass Pork Vermicelli (RM12.50) is decent enough though I feel the sauce needs more acidity. This one errs on the sweet and mild side, which is great for those who prefer their food less spicy but I like my Vietnamese vermicelli to be more robustly flavoured.
Skip the Fresh Spring Rolls (RM7.50) as the rice sheets are a tad thick and chewy so the crisp texture and freshness of the julienned vegetables can’t come through. Nicer are the Fried Spring Rolls (RM4.50) as the skin is crunchy and goes better with the chilli dipping sauce.
The BBQ Pork Skewers (RM8 for 2) takes 15 minutes to prepare but wait, and you’ll be rewarded with tender, well-marinated pork belly grilled till the edges are lightly charred and crisp. I was tempted to order another portion of this but I didn’t want to wait another 15 minutes so we skipped the idea and ordered dessert.
I’m not sure why I have the impression that Vietnamese caramel flan (RM6) would taste different but a caramel flan is still, a caramel flan haha! Ara Vietnamese Noodles serves a decent one – not overly sweet and texture is firm yet smooth.
In a nutshell, I feel Ara Vietnamese Noodles serves good, unpretentious pho bo; superseding my go-to spot in Section 17, Jane’s Nem. The pork skewers are also worth the wait. That said, their fresh spring rolls were a huge let-down. Prices are reasonable and coffee is good, so I’ll definitely return for the pho when the craving hits!
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Food: 6.5/10 (non-halal)
Verdict: You won’t go wrong with the beef pho and pork skewers.
Ara Vietnamese Noodles
45, Jalan SS 22/11,
47400 Petaling Jaya.
Tel: 03-7499 3952
Business hours: 10am – 3pm, 5.30pm – 9pm