The Moment Group Whips Up Southeast Asian Flavors With HuChi
May 30, 2022
The look, smell, and taste of Vietnamese and Thai eats are tossed, plated up, and served at HuChi, a brick-and-mortar space in Rockwell Power Plant Mall that gives a nod to Southeast Asia’s aromatic palate. HuChi, a wordplay on Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City, was launched in October 2021 by The Moment Group, the F&B operator and developer that brought Din Tai Fung to the Philippine shore.
It was a bold move to open a restaurant in the new normal, with fresh-from-the-lockdown diners still warming up to the idea of indoor dining. But it was also this uncertainty that conceived HuChi. “We had a great little space and we wanted to recreate an experience for the current times,” Moment Co-Founder and Creative Director Abba Napa said. “What else shows hope for the future and a return to a safe and happy new normalcy if not creating a new food brand and experience?”
Location is a currency in the F&B industry and The Moment Group knows how to bank on that. Like other sister restaurants, HuChi is located in a high-traffic shopping mall, attracting corporate hustlers and city dwellers in nearby office buildings and condominiums, respectively. Its flagship branch on the Concourse Level of Power Plant Mall maximizes its small space with a compact, one-page menu and a semi-open kitchen that doubles as a counter.
Taking cue from Vietnamese and Thai hawkers and shophouses, HuChi’s menu is dominated by noodles whipped up in varying dishes using fresh ingredients. We began our journey with Pad See Ew (P315), Thai-style noodles cooked in a wok and topped with marinated chicken strips, Chinese broccoli, peanuts, cilantro, and scrambled egg shreds. The sesame sauce lends a sweet undertone that balances the salty hints from the fish and soy sauce as the wedge of lime completes this classic dish with a sour punch. But it is the chargrilled flavor from the slightly burnt chicken that stands out in this savory-sweet dish, while the peanuts add an interesting texture.
Continuing our quest for classic Southeast Asian dishes, we tried next what probably sinigang is to the Vietnamese palate: pho. HuChi’s version—Pho Prime (P595)—is a generous bowl of slow-braised beef rib, tendon nuggets, and rice noodles accompanied by mint, leeks, basil, and cabbage with chili garlic oil. This dish is an easy favorite as the rich and spicy broth tickles your taste buds at each slurp, a well-deserved reward after a long and tiring day. Pho is best eaten while it is piping hot, which explains why HuChi has made this a dine-in exclusive to avoid compromising the freshness of the beef broth and fall-off-the-bone protein while in transit.
Pausing our carbs-dominated fest, we chomped into Goi Cuon (P200), which ideally should be an appetizer but is a refreshing break in between chowing down noodles. These are made of poached shrimp, wood ear mushrooms, beansprouts, vermicelli noodles, pickled carrots, and cucumber, all littered with herbs and wrapped in rice paper. HuChi sources most of its products locally, ensuring that the freshness of every ingredient remains intact as exhibited by the crunchy sound of the vegetables wrapped in the roll. Be sure to dunk each piece in the peanut and vinegar dips to maximize its flavor.
HuChi’s seafood version of the beloved Vietnamese soup is Pho Hai (P545), which consists of poached shrimp, softshell crab, mud crab, and cabbage. The juice of the protein is further enhanced by the basil, leeks, cilantro and chili lime oil, yielding an aroma of flavors all packed in a hearty bowl.
Last on our agenda, HuChi's Banh Mi (P355) boasts of the restaurant’s house-made meatballs layered with Vietnamese ham, chili and liver pâté, eggs, and pickled vegetables, all sandwiched in a baguette. The bread is slightly toasted, offering the right amount of crunch on the outside. We appreciate the even distribution of all the ingredients, ensuring that each bite is as juicy and tasty as the last. The sweet-sour liver pâté and pickled vegetables offset the salty hints of the meatballs, a fusion of flavors of this Vietnamese staple. One order is cut in half and comes in generous serving so be prepared to share this with a friend.
HuChi’s space mirrors the casual ambiance common in Southeast Asia’s shophouses: busy and no frills with the inevitable white noise that bounces off the wall. After all, this is a high-traffic spot in an upscale shopping mall in Makati. The mood here is straightforward but friendly, with eager staff going in and out to clean up the table, take an order, bring out an order, and entertain food delivery riders. Black paper bags printed with The Moment Group’s restaurant labels deck the hanging shelves by the counter, while dim lights add a vintage touch to the space. It is a perfect place if you need a quick but satisfying bite after work or are meeting with a friend over the weekend.
What HuChi lacked in space it made up in quality dishes that stay true to their Southeast Asian lineage. For something to comfort you in the rainy season, order a bowl of Pho Prime (P595) or Pho Hai (P545) if you are toning down the meat. For a quick bite, HuChi's Banh Mi (P355) is more than enough to satisfy your lunch cravings before clocking in again. Do not forget a plate or two of Goi Cuon (P200) for a refreshing bite of vegetables after slurping your noodles. HuChi also offers Vietnamese coffee if you need that extra kick for the day; otherwise, a glass of their house blend iced tea or fresh calamansi juice is a perfect pair for your meal.
HuChi is located at the Concourse Level, The Power Plant Mall, Rockwell Center, Makati City. It is open daily from 11 AM to 9 PM, and is available for dine-in, take-out, and delivery.
This food review is based on a complimentary media tasting provided by HuChi in exchange for a truthful review and no compensation. The opinions expressed within represent the views of the author.
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