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So Gong Dong

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I’m so excited about all these new Korean places that are popping up all over my food ‘hood of Duluth and Suwanee. SGD is a tofu soup chain with outlets in Jersey and Chicago. If you don’t already know yet, every Korean restaurant specializes in just one thing or two. Here, it’s soondubu. And it’s delicious.

Unusual but cool that you get a choice of ramen or rice with your soup order. Located in the same plaza as Assi in Suwannee. Not to be confused with So Kong Dong on BuHi.

So Gong Dong Tofu & BBQ
1291 Old Peachtree Rd NW
Suite 404
Suwanee, GA 30024
(678) 584-1488


Blue Fin – Duluth

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Hi. Sorry for the absence. I’ve been lazy. I’m over at Instagram a lot these days. I like that it’s easier to interact with everyone. So if you don’t find me here go catch me over there: @chowdownatlanta

This was my quick lunch today.

ATL Food History Lesson: When I was in middle school there was this only Izakaya in Atlanta on Peachtree Industrial. It was called Sakana-Ya. I grew up eating Friday night dinners there because my mom was a big fan of their Zohsui. They had a traditional binchotan robata. It was the most awesome Japanese joint in ATL. Unfortunately, mismanagement led to its demise 5 years ago. The sushi chefs there opened their own place right after, which is this one. It’s where Taka and other sushi chefs go to eat. They have an awesome shoyu ramen here and a fantastic pork donburi. Neither of which I didn’t want to eat today.

Blue Fin Sushi
2863 Peachtree Industrial Blvd, Duluth, GA 30097
(770) 232-5004
Closed on Mondays

Atlanta Pho Tour

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If you ask 50 people where the best phở in Atlanta is, chances are you’ll get 40 different answers. That’s to be expected. Everyone has a preference. But what really constitutes a preference? Or a favorite? For most, going to two places is sufficient. Drawing a conclusion based on those two places is where I have a problem with. More so when they’ve only been to each place once. Classic example, I have this friend who keeps telling me that Restaurant XYZ is his favorite because it’s the best. When I asked him how many times he has been to this place, his answer was, “Once”. When I asked him how many restaurants serving the same type of food he has visited, his answer was, “One”. This is the very reason why I’m leery about believing people when they say a place is the best. Unless someone’s been to at least 10 similar places and visited each one multiple times, then that’s when I’ll trust someone’s judgment.

Call me a food snob. I’m not going to make excuses for it. I am. A huge one. You see, I’m very passionate about food. If you know me personally and as my best friend says, I’m like “a guy who has only one thing on his mind constantly”, except mine is about food. Eating is my biggest hobby. I drive around daily looking for Open Soon or Grand Opening signs. I visit many places multiple times. I eat multiple meals a day just so I can try different things and have different tastes in my mouth. Every meal is like a Chloe Food Festival.

Food makes me happy. I have no shame admitting I eat a lot of it. Bread is my Kryptonite. You’ll always hear me say I’m a breadgetarian. I am. I can down a loaf of freshly-baked Korean whipped cream bread slathered in butter in one sitting. Or four cardamom brioche from General Muir as a single snack. But don’t hate. There’s a trade off — I don’t drink alcohol (haven’t found something that tastes as good as fruit juice or Coca Cola) nor do I eat desserts or sweets. I may take a bite to taste; and to have an opinion, but that’s as far as I will go. I don’t have a sweet tooth. Works well for me.

But I digress. The point I’m making is that I eat a lot because I love food. Food is what I know best. I eat at lots and lots of different places multiple times. This year so far, I have eaten 28 bowls of ramen (down from 65 last year), 87 bowls of assorted Korean soups, and as of today, 42 bowls of pho. That’s a lot of soups combined! And it’s not even November yet. What does that mean to you? Thanks to my eating lifestyle (and eating playbook), I’ve done much of the eating research for you. The 20 places I visit multiple times to eat pho aren’t places I just visited this year. Those plus more are in my regular rotation since I started eating for fun. That will be about middle school I guess.

So without further ado, I present to you Atlanta Pho Tour 2013. By no means is this an exhaustive list. Instead, these are the places I visit multiple times on a regular basis. My visits aren’t for the same purpose all the time. Sometimes, I may go to a place because it’s convenient or I’m already in the area. Time of day or night is also a factor. But often, I go to a place because it’s the best. Ready to go around my food ‘hood? Let’s go!

The Top Five

1. Pho Dai Loi
4061 Jonesboro Rd
Forest Park, GA 30297
(404) 363-2423

4186 Buford Hwy NE
Atlanta, GA 30345
(404) 633-2111

1500 Pleasant Hill Rd
Lawrenceville, GA 30044
(770) 381-1415

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Three locations to serve you the absolute best pho in Atlanta. Hands down. The broth is simply delicious: rich yet light, hearty, balanced, and has a depth of flavor no other place in Atlanta can duplicate. The meats are fork-tender and great quality; the serving, beyond ample; and the garnish, super fresh. You come here for perfection. And with perfection, you don’t need to bother altering the taste by adding unnecessary spices and condiments.

2. What the Pho
2442 Pleasant Hill Rd
Duluth, GA 30096
(770) 814-9396

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While the pho here is superb, everything on the menu is also good. Must-try include the combination fried rice, seafood pan-fried noodles, fried Cornish hen, bún (vermicelli noodle salad topped with grilled meats or shrimp), stir-fried chicken with cashews, and assorted rice plates that come with different combination of meats. Open until midnight.

3. Nam Phuong
5495 Jimmy Carter Blvd
Norcross, GA 30093
(770) 409-8686

4051 Buford Hwy NE
Atlanta, GA 30345
(404) 633-2400

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One of the best places for all-around Vietnamese food. Aside from the fantastic pho, you can’t go wrong with anything here. Everything on the menu is good. Everything. Favorites include the Shaking Beef, chicken wings, noodle dishes, beef stew, do-it-yourself fresh summer rolls, and the best congee you’ll ever taste outside of Vietnam.

4. No. 1 Hong Kong Bakery
5494 Jimmy Carter Blvd
Norcross, GA 30093
(770) 837-0270

No. 1 Hong Kong Bakery

This is mainly a bakery. They specialize in breads, pastries, and rice cakes. The menu is very limited and there are maybe just two kinds of pho. But believe me when I tell you the pho is amazing. Inside the Hong Kong Supermarket on the left side of the building (not in the food court).

5. Pho Bac
4897 Buford Hwy
Chamblee, GA 30341
(770) 986-4273

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Another place for great Vietnamese food. Stellar soups and noodle salads. Come here for pho and add a side of Bánh mì to complete your hearty meal.

Everywhere Else (in alphabetical order):

1. Co’m Vietnamese Grill
4005 Buford Hwy NE
Atlanta, GA 30345
(404) 320-0405

Known more for their entrees and rice dishes, the grilled grape leaves rolls are a must try.

2. I Luv Pho
4650 Jimmy Carter Blvd.
Norcross, GA 30071
(770) 558-6289

4500 Satellite Blvd NW
Duluth, GA 30096
(770) 249-8989

5145 Buford Hwy NE
Doraville, GA 30340
(770) 249-8989

I Luv Pho

Open 24 Hours and with three locations in the metro, there’s bound to be one close to you.

3. Lee’s Bakery
4005 Buford Hwy NE
Atlanta, GA 30345
(404) 728-1008

The only place with pho/bánh mì combination meals on the menu.

4. Quan Ba 9
4285 Buford Hwy NE
Atlanta, GA 30345
(404) 636-2999

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A classic example of southern Vietnamese pho, the broth here is heavily flavored with leafy herbs and spices.

5. Quoc Huong
5150 Buford Hwy NE
Doraville, GA 30340
(770) 936-0605

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First and foremost, you come here for the grilled pork bánh mì. It’s the best bánh mì in Atlanta. And then you eat the bánh mì with a bowl of pho. Perfect combination!

6. Pho 24
4646 Buford Hwy
Atlanta, GA 30341
(770) 710-0178

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Open 24 hours and with an extensive food and traditional Vietnamese beverage menu.

7. Pho Xe Lua
5495 Jimmy Carter Blvd
Norcross, GA 30093
(770) 446-8908

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This is a food court stall inside the Hong Kong Supermarket specializing in pho. Lots of choices and cobinations. Cash only.

8. Saigon Café
3675 Satellite Blvd NW
Duluth, GA 30096
(770) 232-5070

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The Duluth location has the best food for this local chain. Enroll in their rewards program for weekly specials. Seven locations all over metro Atlanta.

9. Yany Express
5495 Jimmy Carter Blvd
Norcross, GA 30093
(770) 368-0094

Another place for great Vietnamese food all around. Fantastic soups and kitchen specialties. They have the best Shaking Beef in Atlanta.

Pho, ITP?

While there’s no question that great pho can be found on Buford Highway or OTP, intown residents don’t necessarily have to make the trek to get their fix. Here are some of the places within the city limits.

Dua
53 Broad St NW
Atlanta, GA 30303
(404) 589-8889

The only place in downtown Atlanta for pho and with a separate location a couple of doors down for carry out and delivery orders.

So Ba
560 Gresham Ave SE
Atlanta, GA 30316
(404) 627-9911

Located in EAV, the restaurant transforms into a late night eatery Octopus Bar after 10pm.

We Suki Suki
479 Flat Shoals Ave.
Atlanta, Ga 30316
404-901-6992

Pho available only from 11AM until they run out.

There you have it folks! We are so fortunate to have a big Vietnamese community in Atlanta. We don’t have to go far to satisfy our ethnic food cravings.

Cuban Burger: Palomilla’s

Four years ago, a couple of childhood friends of mine lived in a condo complex off Spalding Drive in Norcross while in college. We used to come over and go to this plaza next door where they have a few restaurants to get something to eat. One of those eating places was Palomilla’s Cuban Grill House. A sit-down, full service restaurant, we were a little apprehensive to come in at first given our college budgets. We soon found out the prices are actually cheap, and if you get the lunch special, meals became more affordable.

Pallomilla's Cuban Grill House

Since then, this place has been one of my go-to places for good Cuban food. Ever had a Cuban Burger? A Cuban burger (Frita Cubana) is an awesome burger that must be on your own 100 Dishes To Eat. It’s been my favorite thing to eat here. First, the huge, juicy patty is mixed with onions, peppers and spices. It is topped with canned potato sticks (for crunch and fun) then served in a huge, super soft, sesame seed bun. Call it a burger on steroids. It is a delicious, savory burger you’ll have to eat before you die. (Incidentally, I’m coming out with a CDA100 list — my very own 100 must-eat-mostly-ethnic food in Atlanta. Watch out for it.)

Pallomilla's Cuban Grill House

But that’s not all that’s good here. In fact, everything is good. The Masas De Cerdo comes with cubes of tender pork that have been marinated in spices and mojo sauce. These aren’t the typical jaw-breaking pork cubes you see at other places. Here, the crispy on the outside, deep-fried meat has a juicy, tender interior. Topped with sauteed onions and comes with rice, a cup of black beans, and a side of sweet plantains, this delicious $12.95 plate is an awesome value.

Pallomilla's Cuban Grill House

Pallomilla's Cuban Grill House

Pallomilla's Cuban Grill House

Pallomilla's Cuban Grill House

Pallomilla's Cuban Grill House

Pallomilla's Cuban Grill House

Chuletas De Cerdo. Another favorite of mine. This comes with two tender pork chops that have been marinated in tropical juices and then cooked on a grill. The Filete De Pollo, a flattened chicken filet marinated in mojo sauce then grilled is also a favorite. Very tasty. And so is the Vaca Frita which is grilled tender flank steak. The Paella? Fantastic is an understatement. And if you happen to have someone not as adventurous, let them get the chicken tenders or the chicken filet. Best chicken tenders!

Pallomilla's Cuban Grill House

Pallomilla's Cuban Grill House

You all know I’m not a big dessert eater so I usually get the empanadas to cap off my meal. Flaky crust, delicious meat filling. Enough said. Oh and my friends seem to love the preserved guavas served with a block of cream cheese. Sounds unusual but the flavors really work together. Oh and if you’re wondering how to eat this dessert — get a piece of guava, put a small dollop of cream cheese on top, then take it all in your mouth!

Now go get a Cuban Burger. By the way… it’s not on the menu :)

Palomilla’s Cuban Grill House
Norcross Location:
6470 Spalding Dr
Norcross, GA 30092
(770) 242-0078
Palomilla's Cuban Grill House on Urbanspoon

Johns Creek Location:
11030 Medlock Bridge Rd
Jonhs Creek, Ga 30097
678.710.8343
Palomilla's Cuban Grill House on Urbanspoon

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Eater Atlanta: Best of Duluth

Eater Atlanta: Best of Duluth

So I wrote this mini guide for Eater. Now you don’t have an excuse not to come to my food ‘hood. And like I said on the post… get your rides ready for a food field trip to Duluth.

Come. NOW!

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