Location: LotteMart 2nd floor (Express Bus Terminal Complex)
Prices: Appetizers from 4,000 to 18,000 won
Main course from 9,500 to 16,500 won
For a pho full of fine, fresh food at a price that won't break the bank head to the Lotte Mart building (Express Bus Terminal) in Gagyeong-dong.
Another restaurant worth checking out in the Lotte complex near the bus terminal is Hoabinh. It is a Vietnamese Pho place, much like Pho bay and Saigon Square. The service is fast and efficient. If you go on a weekday, you’ll likely get your food a few moments after ordering! It is a cozy spot, not a great deal of room, but more than enough for a meal with a couple friends or a date night. Unlike some other restaurants, they haven’t succumbed to the gradual trend of lowering of food quality. This is particularly important with Pho places, where the freshness and quality of the meat can make or break the dishes. As an added bonus, it’s on the second floor above the book store, so you have an excuse to do a bit of browsing too.
The spring rolls have shrimp, various vegetables, and rice noodles wrapped in lettuce and rice paper. The shrimp have the tails removed, which is a big bonus for me as the texture is vastly improved without them. It comes with a peanut sauce for dipping. Fresh, cool, and light; a great start to a meal!
Plump shrimp with just the right amount of coconut breading server with a sweet and sour sauce. It can be hard to find high quality breaded food, so if you get a hankering, check them out!
Pho with Brisket and Flank
The real test of a Vietnamese restaurant is the quality of the Pho, this is where Hoabinh knocks it out of the park. While the main ingredients don’t change between places, rice noodles, green onion, a few peppers for flavoring, beef with a side of fresh sprouts, a lemon wedge, and pickled onions; the quality of the meat and flavorful broth really set them apart from the competition. At some places, lower quality meat gets tough as it keeps cooking in the broth. The meat at Hoabinh stays nice and tender, so need to rush the meat portion. While most other places use cilantro to garnish the Pho, Hoabinh uses mint. Mint and beef might sound like an odd mix, but the mint flavor gets lost in the broth and punches up the freshness of the dish. My favorite Pho in the city!
If you’re not in the mood for Pho, their rice and noodle dishes a well worth trying out too! The big selling point for me on these dishes is that they are not overly greasy. I find that a lot of places tend to overdue the oil, particularly on the noodle dishes. You end up feeling like you ate a terrible amount of fake cheese or Macdonalds burger buns.
Best time to go – During weekdays, they seem to have only a few customers, the service is faster than most fastfood places. Even during the weekends, they are pretty quick.