Manila has a lot of good restaurants and you need to discover them. I admit, it is sometimes easy to go to the many Jollibee and Mcdonald's out there, specially when these are the restaurants that have a good name recall from the kids. Cha Gio (pronounced as Cha-yo) vietnamese restaurant is one of those special quaint hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Malate. Cha Gio refers to the popular Vietnamese spring rolls. It opened in 2003, in its original store located near the Diamond hotel, along J. Quintos St. Carlos Celdran was the one who introduced me to its delicious pho-noodle dishes and I made a mental note to blog about Cha Gio.

They tried to project an aura that they are a cafe rather than the noodle house so the pho dishes assortment were toned down. But they cannot readily compete with the nice figaro cafe along that street, so I would have thought that they should market themselves as an authentic vietnamese noodle house instead. This is where you can try a vietnamese coffee called ca phe su which is a Vietnamese brewed coffee dripped from a perculator mixed with condensed milk. They carry a vietnamese brand of coffee called, Trung Nguyen. Have anyone tried this coffee?

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I like restaurants that has a story and Cha Gio gives you a glimpse of Leilani Valido-Castillo's family life in Laos. In full blown sepia photos, you'll see what their home is like in Laos. Lani's family had to escape from the war and migrate to Manila in 1977. They are proud of their heritage and you can see the photos of Lani's mom, Ba Lan (vietnamese from Hanoi); Lani's dad, Pert Valido (Filipino who worked for the Philippine Navy); and Lani's grandma, Ba Thao who is the source of their vietnamese cooking skills.

The photo above is a fitting tribute to Lani's grand mother, Ba Thao who used to serve French troops at a food stall and later sold French Breads at a bakery. Her mother, cooked and sold food in Hanoi and served in the US Base where she honed her skills in western cooking style. Lani was born in Laos as Nguyen Thuy Thang after the family moved out of Vietnam in 1976.

We were waiting for Rache who has a french cooking class demo at the Manila Diamond Hotel so we just had our photo shoot with Aidan. Check out the Menu below:

Cha Gio Menu:
Spring Rolls, Noodles, Specialty Items
Beverage, Dessert and Deli Corner

Vietnamese Noodles Topping (P79+) with Beef, Chicken and Pork. For me, this is the best dish in the menu. How I wish they serve hot soup together with this.

Cha Gio or Vietnamese Spring Rolls (P67+). I was really not impressed since it tasted like ordinary lumpia because the ingredients where too scrimpy to make a difference. It was nice to taste the house specialty though.

Fried Stuffed Tofu (P125+). I noticed that they fried a lot of things and this one was soaking in oil.

Cha Gio Menu:
Spring Rolls, Noodles, Specialty Items
Beverage, Dessert and Deli Corner

Cha Gio Vietnamese Restaurant
11th Floor Ramon Magsaysay Center
1680 Roxas Boulevard, Malate Manila
524-4324, 523-3775

Delivery: 404-3361 (minimum order of P250)