Gold Standard Pho and BanhMi+Kopi, 2 new pork-free eateries in the Klang Valley, specialise in perennially popular Vietnamese fare

Daren Yoon & Fred Leung Of Gold Standard Pho

Tatler Asia
Above Daren Yoon and Fred Leung, co-founders of Gold Standard Pho. Photo: Gold Standard Pho

Did you make it a point to travel to Vietnam to try ‘the real thing’?

Daren Yoon: We made multiple visits to Vietnam and tried a wide variety of pho in addition to other Vietnamese dishes. Some places were excellent, but we actually didn’t like the majority. Historically speaking, pho is cheap street food, which explains why the quality of ingredients—especially the meat—ranged from mediocre to poor. Chain restaurants were inconsistent from one branch to another. It was an eye-opening experience. Identifying the challenges in Vietnam really helped us prepare for our launch in Kuala Lumpur.

How does pho differ from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh?

Fred Leung: The North and the South are less different today than in the past. Southern pho usually contains softer noodles, a lighter broth, and more garnishes.

Internationally, most Vietnamese restaurants serve southern pho, which is also what Daren and I prefer. We like the texture of the noodles, the aesthetics of the golden broth, and the appeal of offering a wide assortment of vegetables, herbs, and sauces so that each bowl is your ideal creation.

Tatler Asia
Above Photo: Gold Standard Phở

In Vietnam, vendors make a show of piling their mini scales with meat to prove that everyone gets an equal share of the premium stuff. Do your chefs have a system for apportioning ingredients?

Daren Yoon: We have ambitious plans for Gold Standard Pho and the consistency of our product is absolutely critical. Every single batch of broth is reviewed by multiple persons before it’s allowed to be served.  All ingredients are measured to exact specifications and anything that doesn’t meet our standards is immediately discarded.

Where health standards are concerned, we aren’t looking to simply meet the local requirements but to exceed them. The term 'gold standard' isn’t just a catch phrase—it is our code of conduct in every aspect of the business, whether food quality, service, or ambiance. 

All kinds of cuts can be found in Vietnamese pho, from tendon to spinal cord! How about at Gold Standard Pho?
Fred Leung: Our pho is currently available in three types of broth: beef, chicken and vegetables. Our beef pho and the accompanying cuts, which include rare beef, beef balls, tendon, and tripe, are made from 100% high-grade Australian beef. During the development stage, we never found beef balls at the local market that met our standards. Unsatisfied, we decided to have our Vietnamese chef create homemade beef balls. The same can be said for many of the items you see on today's menu, including our sauces.

We will expand our offerings in the future, but we’re more interested in getting things done right than done fast.

Tatler Asia
Above Photo: Gold Standard Pho

When I slipped into your restaurant to sample its signature dish, I was delighted to discover a deeply delicious beef broth with herbal undertones. But no average pho stock takes 30 hours to simmer. Would you say that Gold Standard Pho is about augmenting street food?
Daren Yoon: When we decided to take on this project, we made a commitment to each other that we would create the pho that we wanted to eat, regardless of cost and time. Making the best pho possible has been the compass in our decision-making.

Must it take 30 hours to make broth? Of course not. There are recipes out there call for as little as 2 to 3 hours. We never sought a 30-hour recipe, but I can tell you that each and every hour serves a purpose.

It has taken us nine months to create a delicious pho broth without using pork, while also reducing sodium levels to create a healthier product. While we may compromise on certain things, we are decidedly uncompromising when it comes to the quality of our pho.

Gold Standard Pho | 17, Jalan Telawi 2, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur | 03-2202 0932 | View the menu

Phuong Mai Dinh Of BanhMi+Kopi