Imagine the distaste on my brothers’ faces when I recently confessed to them that I was ready to turn my back on an old flavorful fling.

“I think it’s phó over ramen for me.”

Fifteen-year-old me would have gone on a Twitter rampage against 2022 me for that statement. I remember the first time I’ve had phó with the family in Metro Manila. “What am I doing here with this bowl of soup that tastes like medicine?”

I glanced over at the end of the table and saw Dad and Uncle slurp the rice noodles and scoop the bottom of the bowl clean.

“I could be missing out on something here,” I thought.

It took years before my palate took in more and more flavors. In my line of work, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to more destinations and it definitely helped me train the tongue. It was a slow romance; just like how good phó soup takes at least six hours to boil just to get that aromatic, delicious broth. It took time but I’ve certainly arrived. I love phó.

I recently found myself in the new Phat Phó in Robinsons Galleria Cebu. I ordered a large Phó Special—shaved beef, braised beef, meatball and tendon—served with bean sprouts, shaved onions, holy basil, Thai basil, Chinese coriander and Vietnamese culantro.

One of the best parts about having phó at Phat Phó is alternating each slurp with each of the five condiments available: Hoisin sauce, fish sauce, Sriracha sauce, pickled garlic and fresh lime.

I got to work with my chopsticks, dug in deep and enjoyed every strand of noodle and spoonful of soup until the stomach signalled to make room for Vietnamese coffee.

Phat Phó, one of the restaurants under The Abaca Group, has been present for quite some time now. It would definitely be on my list during rainy days, and if I feel like treating myself, I would get an order of its Phat Phried Chicken.

“Eat Phó Like A Pró,” goes the restaurant’s tagline. The thing is, you don’t need to be an adventurous eater to try out a good bowl of phó. Ask my 15-year-old self.

So is it really phó over ramen for me? Maybe. I would have to defer to my conscience and blood pressure readings.

Check out the new Phat Phó at Robinsons Galleria Cebu.