I fell in love with Vietnamese cuisine from the very first time I had it. Thankfully, there’s no need to hop onto a plane to experience its clean uncomplicated flavors because there are a handful restaurants in the metro that serve the cuisine staples—this hole-in-the-wall included, which gives us a taste of Vietnamese street food.
DiCoFi is located at the ground level of Valero Plaza. Just look for the shabby-cute hand-painted wooden signage. The interiors of the place is no-nonsense—just like it’s cuisine—with its white brick walls, undone floors, wooden chairs and tables, with a touch of green from plants here and there. With all the hybrid and overwrought restaurant concepts in the metro, it was refreshing to find a place as straightforward and unpretentious as this.
“Careful, it’s hot,” said the Vietnamese server when he served us our first offering—Vietnamese Pizza (PHP85). Unlike its Italian counterpart, this pizza has a rice paper crust and is loaded with ground pork, bits of chicken, egg, shrimp, pork floss, spring onions and is punctuated by a swirl of hot sauce. Having never imagined pizza without cheese, each crunchy bite of the rice paper crust with was a less sinful one than your usual slice.
We also had a serving of the Savory Sticky Rice (PHP110). Made from glutinous rice with paté at the center, and topped with sausage, pork floss, ground pork, shredded chicken, it was a hearty dish that was a meal on its own.
We couldn’t leave without trying their classic Vietnamese-French sandwich BanhMi (PHP95). It arrived a bit pale—but don’t be deceived by the looks of it. Upon careful inspection, the baguette is laden with thinly-sliced ham, pork floss, fried egg, cucumber strips and cilantro and dressed with pate mayonnaise and hot sauce—the combination of which, deserved to be wolfed down, I didn’t mind crumbs and bits and pieces falling all over my plate (not to mention my dress).
As recommended, we ordered the Vietnamese Iced Coffee (PHP95), which has a strong taste that was balanced out by the sweetened condensed milk. By the counter you’ll see how it is prepared—from the scooping of coffee grounds from the keeper to being brewed in a small filtered metal coffee maker. The Iced White Coffee (PHP95), on the other hand, has the same robust flavor, only creamier with the fresh cold milk mixed in.
DiCoFi also has fruit shakes on their menu (which we failed to try, unfortunately), which you might be craving on hot and humid days like we have in the country.
DiCoFi’s limited menu does not promise authentic Vietnamese specialties or create novel combinations. Instead, they stay true to Vietnamese flavor but adapt to the Filipino palate. And with their modest price point and equally modest space, it’s somewhere you wouldn’t mind hanging out at for a while.
DiCoFi is open from Mondays to Saturdays, 8 AM to 10 PM, and is located at Valero Plaza, along San Agustin Street in Salcedo Village, Makati. It’s right across Sofrito and next to Persian Stop Sultan Grill.