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Entries Tagged as 'Atlanta'

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.


White Oak Kitchen + Cocktails

WOKC (Downtown)

WOKC (Downtown)

I have been a huge fan of Chef Josh Hopkins ever since he showcased his talent at the Leap Year Dinner at One Eared Stag last year. Soon after that, he took the helm at STG Trattoria where he continued to amaze people with dishes such as pork chops with sweet potato puree, fried quail, homemade pastas, and braised octopus, to name a few. In January, he announced his departure at STG which saddened me but was relieved to find out he was just moving downtown and in to WOKC.

WOKC (Downtown)

WOKC is in downtown. That means you have to park at the many street parking lots or pay a hefty price at nearby hotel parking decks. Or, you can use their complimentary valet parking. I love valet. It’s convenient and quick, not to mention safe — I don’t have to walk in dim alleys and fear for my life to get to where my car is. Let me also mention that the place is really nice. It’s so modern and with amazing views of downtown. I don’t really care much about ambiance and decor, and if you notice from this blog, I eat mostly cheap (but good) food from hole-in-a-wall places. Fancy eating from this country girl doesn’t happen too often.

WOKC (Downtown)
homemade sweet muffins with soft butter and apple syrup (aka wow)

I’m not gonna lie — I came in with high expectations. After all, this is Josh Hopkins we’re talking about. STG is one of my favorite places to eat because of him. So, armed with my one month’s paycheck, my sister and a very good old friend took a page from my eating playbook and ordered (almost) the entire menu. Let me just tell you it’s one of the best meals ever. Food was super fantastic.

WOKC (Downtown)

We started with five appetizers. Naturally, we had to have the pork belly. It had crispy skin, tender, juicy, and tasty meat, and came with these small squares of sage stuffing. There’s a lot of good pork belly in our city but this one tops them all. Maybe because the pork was made to stand out. It didn’t have any distractions like some apple or fruit stuff or sweet accompaniment to it.

WOKC (Downtown)

The fried oysters were another winner. I don’t like huge oysters that take two bites to eat. These were bite-sized Apalachicola ones that were lightly dusted with corn meal then fried golden. But what’s interesting is the savory bread pudding and corn milk the oysters were sitting on. It’s like getting a bite of soft bread dipped in sweetish sauce. It’s so good it would make a great main dish if they super-sized it.

WOKC (Downtown)

The deviled eggs were not the boring ones you see everywhere else. The yolks were whipped creamy with bacon and then there’s this crispy tomato skin on top and minced pork rind. You get this flavor and texture explosion in your mouth.

WOKC (Downtown)

Ever had savory grits? Flavorful grits plus mushrooms, lentils, and porcinis. So good.

WOKC (Downtown)

WOKC (Downtown)

One thing you shouldn’t miss is the charcuterie plate. It’s a huge serving and if you consider everything on this plate, it’s really a steal at $15. Everything was fantastic on this plate: there’s homemade sausages, paté, different kinds of mustard, cured meats, grilled housemade brioche bread, a rillette of chicken innards, and the best part: bacon marmalade. Bacon marmalade! Don’t miss this one.

WOKC (Downtown)

I love pimento cheese. Growing up, my mom made hers from scratch, dicing fresh red pimentos and grating sharp cheddar and American cheeses. She’d make pimento cheese sandwiches and feed them to us as an after-school snack. It’s comfort food and I have to get it whenever it’s on any menu. Here, the pimento cheese is sandwiched between a stack of fried green tomatoes making it a real southern fare. The cheese is creamy and smooth just like I want it. There’s also this homemade strawberry jam that balanced the saltiness of the cheese. It’s a real good appetizer.

WOKC (Downtown)

We ordered four main entrees and stayed away from other ubiquitous items such as the steak and the fried chicken. Like I said, everything I ate here was fantastic. But the one that stood out the most was the duck. This, by far, is the best roasted duck in the city. There are so many elements that make a good dish: taste, texture, ingredients, execution, and smell. Sometimes, it’s just impossible to make ingredients and textures combine well with each other, even if it was executed correctly. Most times, chefs fail to realize that some ingredients don’t play well with each other. I usually consider a dish as very good if 4 out of 5 of those elements are present. It becomes awesome when a dish hits all 5. Well, this one hit it out of the park. The duck was juicy and tender and the skin had a light crisp and a tinge of sweetness. It came with this mashed sweet potato wrapped in bacon! Seriously, get this!

WOKC (Downtown)

WOKC (Downtown)

WOKC (Downtown)

The other entrees were equally amazing. I’m running out of adjectives and superlatives. I mean, how many more times can I use amazing, awesome, delicious, fantastic. So, you get the idea. I liked the braised short rib because it was peppery and savory. There’s also horseradish that gave the dish a slight spicy kick. The lamb t-bone was not gamey at all. And the grouper? Light and refreshing. You can taste the sweetness (as in freshness) of the fish. I love that the dishes here don’t have heavy sauces. The proteins are already considerable in serving sizes so I’m glad that accompanying ingredients and sauces were chosen to be light and not overpowering.

WOKC (Downtown)

WOKC (Downtown)

WOKC (Downtown)

You all know by now that I’m not a dessert fan. But my sister is. She got this Bread Pudding and Three Jars. I don’t remember what was in the three jars but she said everything was good.

Anyway, we had a fantastic meal — the food was unbelievable and the service was impeccable. This is my new favorite restaurant. Go now! That is all.

White Oak Kitchen + Cocktails
270 Peachtree St. NE
Atlanta, GA 30303
(404) 524-7200

White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails on Urbanspoon

Red Velvet French Toast

Do I have your attention now? :)

Egg Harbor Cafe

This teeny, tiny slice of heaven on earth packs on over 800 calories. But it’s all so worth it. Coming in at about 4 inches across and a mere one inch thick, it is the most talked about, most adored, most delectable dessert breakfast item at Egg Harbor Cafe. A super moist, not-too-sweet slice of red velvet cake with cream cheese filling that is dipped in French toast batter and then grilled. Delicious is an understatement.

Don’t share. Get one for yourself because, trust me, one slice is never gonna be enough for you.

Go. Now!

Egg Harbor Cafe
10270 Medlock Bridge Pky
Johns Creek, GA 30022
(770) 807-8018

5920 Roswell Road
Sandy Springs, GA 30328
(404) 389-9915

Egg Harbor Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Cardamom Hill

The road to Cardamom Hill started with a supper club: Spice Route. I’ve heard a lot of great things about this monthly event (see my good friend Jimmy’s pictures here) but sadly, I never went. Part of the reason is that I’m a full-fledged carnivore and vegetarian meals just don’t interest me at all. Enter Atlanta Food & Wine Festival where I finally got a chance to sample Chef Asha’s food. Two words: FRIED CHICKEN.

Cardamom HIll

Yesterday was Cardamom Hill’s first day of business. I knew dinner was gonna be a crazy time to go, what with all the buzz they’re getting lately so we went for lunch instead. According to our server, there were only two types of meals available that day: vegetable korma and chicken curry. I chose the chicken curry. Of course. The thali (think of it as a bento box) consisted of the main dish, lentil soup, cucumber-fruit salad, and rice pilau. The chicken curry, simmered for five days, has a depth of flavor you won’t find in many Indian places. The salad had a mild lemony vinaigrette that was very refreshing. The pilau was to-die-for with slivers of green beans and golden raisins. The lentil soup was hearty and delicious. The price tag? $14.

Cardamom HIll

Every meal is punctuated with their piping hot, homemade chai tea. It’s the best chai tea I’ve ever had. And comes with a pizelle that is specially made for them.

Remember the fried chicken I mentioned earlier? Come to find out they do have it but we were already pressed for time to get a third meal. So we had to content ourselves with a tiny taste. This CRACK CHICKEN is a must eat when you go here. Must. The meat is so tender and juicy. The skin is thin, crispy, and crunchy. There’s a slight, slight hint of curry among the spices used. Believe me, it’s insanely delicious.

I went opening day. Aside from the technical issues with their computer system, they looked like they’ve been around a while. Food is on the pricey side but very good nonetheless. Go try it.

Full Disclosure. They were having first day jitters — the card machine kept acting up. They offered to comp our meals. Twice. We graciously refused. Twice. Fortunately, their system finally went back up after trying numerous times. Our meals were paid in full, tip included. Cliff Bostock says he wasn’t as lucky.

Cardamom Hill

1700 Northside Drive
Suite A-5
Atlanta, GA 30318
(404) 549-7012

Cardamom Hill on Urbanspoon

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The best thing I ever ate: Taka’s Cold Ramen

Taka

We had a bout of chilly days a couple of weeks back and I thought it was awesome. I love cold weather. But now that we are hitting 90-degree temps once again, my addiction to ramen is going to take a slight backseat to cold ramen. Slight. Not a whole lot.

Taka

So. I’ve been eating Taka’s Hiyashi Ramen since he debuted it in April. It’s so perfect for the scorching weather summer is about to bring us. This bowl of goodness comes with cold, chewy noodles, slices of tender pork, strips of egg, and a phenomenal sweet-salty-tangy broth. It’s not on the regular menu anymore so you must ask for it. And remember, it’s a cold noodle dish. It’s totally different from it’s big brother ramen, but just as good. Trust me. I know ramen. :)

Taka Sushi Cafe
375 Pharr Rd NE
Atlanta, GA 30305
(404) 869-2802

Taka Sushi Cafe on Urbanspoon

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