“Neva’ been to Vietnam? Well, now you caaaaan…”
Those were the words I uttered with a longtime friend to Neva, the owner’s daughter, and all three of us laughed at how “punny” it was.
It was a fine Saturday afternoon. We were at the new Vietnamese restaurant, Troi Oi, in Riverside Boardwalk here in Iloilo City. Taking in my surroundings, I could say it’s the city’s own little nook or corner of Vietnam. Its walls were colorfully painted. The famous conical hats hung on one side for customers’ enjoyment and Instagrammable pictures.
The iconic Vietnamese lanterns in various shapes, sizes, and hues dangled from the ceiling and they glowed softly when lit in the evenings, adding more vibrancy to the place. The Oriental utensils and their holders, vases, china, and figurines, all of which came from Vietnam, occupied every table and of course, the wooden shelf used to display the different Vietnamese wares they were selling.
Little Buddhas and more Vietnamese décor greet you as you make your way up the steps leading to the second floor. Everything in sight comes from the land famous for its scenic landscapes, beaches, coffee, and Miss Saigon.
From the balcony, I had a great view of the Iloilo River as it flowed gently along the Esplanade. A magnificent fire tree, its leaves of a fiery orange hue stood to one side; framing the picturesque scene in front of me perfectly.
I also brought along my friends, and we enjoyed a cup of Vietnamese coffee and a few desserts – sticky rice mango and mango with tapioca – while unwinding. And really, it’s a nice place to chill and if you want a Zen Asian feel while you’re at it, then this is the place.
Their coffee experience reflects what you will when you’re actually in Vietnam with the percolator. You can also opt for sweet iced coffee if you want. They use authentic Vietnamese coffee beans.
Troi Oi also serves other beverages like shakes made from fresh fruits. Their mango shake is a must try since it uses mangoes from the island of Guimaras.
If you’re hankering for a full meal and not desserts, they have a wide array in their menu for you to choose from. Their bestsellers are Bo Luc Lac (Shaking Beef), and noodles also known as Pho.
Other must try dishes are their Vietnamese bruschetta, Banh Mi (the Vietnamese version of a sandwich), and their fresh Vietnamese rolls.
And should a trip to the loos beckon, you’ll be surprised at how neat and well-furnished their comfort rooms are. It has all the bathroom necessities you need and want to feel fresh and clean! So help yourself.
If you and your friends feel like hanging out somewhere new, or would love to humorously claim that you “spent time in Vietnam” or went to an exotic locale, or you’re feeling the Miss Saigon vibes, then by all means, do drop by at Troi Oi! They’re all happy to serve you!
Troi Oi is located at Riverside Boardwalk, Iloilo City, Philippines
Some photos by Xane Digital Productions and Michael Quintana