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Entries Tagged as 'Duluth'

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.

Seo Ra Beol

Seo Ra Beol
It’s a stand alone building. The name of the restaurant isn’t in English.

Being an Atlanta native, I know the history of food in the city more than most. Because this is the only blog you’ll see that kind of information, I make it a point to include some of that history in almost all my posts. By now you should also already know I love Korean food. I’ve eaten so much of it everywhere. I’ve eaten at almost all the Korean places in metro Atlanta. We used to go to this one and only Korean place in Georgia located in downtown Atlanta when I was in elementary all the time. That’s when I decided Korean was going to be my favorite cuisine.

Seo Ra Beol

Tofu 88 on Buford Highway was the Asian Waffle House. It was open 24 hours and served cheap and good eats. It was the place to study on the weekends when most college libraries and coffee shops are already closed. It was also the only place to get the most amazing Pork Kimchi fried rice on the planet. It closed three years ago. Right next door to it was the most awesome Mandarin restaurant that was an Atlanta institution for the non-Cantonese Chinese community and has been around before I was even born. I remember going there regularly for family dinners while I was growing up. After about twenty years, sadly, the place closed. At that time, the Korean boom was just beginning in Atlanta. That’s when Han Il Kwan came into the picture and occupied the vacant spot. About three years ago, when most restaurants were closing due to the economic downturn, Han Il Kwan decided to close and relocate to Pleasant Hill where most Korean businesses are located, thus, having better exposure to Koreans. They got the old location of another failed (yet awesome restaurant) called Seoul Garden (which had the best chap jae). But business began to pick up and instead of closing and relocating, they decided to keep Han Il Kwan open but close around midnight instead of being open the usual 24 hours. They gave the new Han Il Kwan restaurant another name: Seo Ra Beol. You’ll find some of the staff from Tofu 88 here, too. Side note: I saw former Atlanta Falcons Hines Ward eating dinner here with his family two years ago. He’s very nice and humble.

Seo Ra Beol

How I’ve never written about this place still surprises me. Just like it’s sister restaurant, this place has amazing food. But unlike it, you will find hardly any Americans (or non-Koreans) eating here. I have yet to see one in the three years I’ve been eating here regularly (well, except for Hines Ward who is technically Korean so he doesn’t count, me, and the friends I take here). The menu is as extensive and mirrors Han Il Kwan except for maybe a handful of dishes. There’s Korean BBQ, soups, stews, and both authentic and mainstream Korean dishes. I love the spicy beef rib soup here. The broth is bold, not thin or watery, and has just the right amount of spiciness. The beef short ribs are very tender and flavorful.

Seo Ra Beol

The Yankee in me loves fried rice and I am known to beg any kitchen to make me some if I don’t see it on the menu. The one here has a smoky flavor and not mooshy just like the way fried rice should be. You can basically ask them to make whatever kind of fried rice you want. I get beef with Korean sausages and a fried egg. Sometimes, I beg for kimchi fried rice. Just remember to ask nicely.

Seo Ra Beol

This is one of the best places in the city for galbi, Korean short ribs. The marinade they use is phenomenal. It has the perfect balance of sweet and savory. They also cook the meat perfectly. Korean ribs isn’t steak. It’s also marinated. Cooking it to medium makes the meat stringy and rubbery. It has to be grilled enough to be a little crispy on the outside without burning yet tender and juicy on the inside. Not very many places can do that. They do here.

Seo Ra Beol

Seo Ra Beol

Seo Ra Beol

The soondubu, bibimbap, spicy beef soup, black goat soup, pancakes, are all good here. So if you’re hungry or craving Korean late night, you can go here (or to Han Il Kwan). You won’t be disappointed.

Note: The restaurant is accessible on both Pleasanthill Rd. and Steve Reynolds Blvd. Please note that the sign is NOT in English. You can read my friend FNS’s post here.

Seo Ra Beol
3040 Steve Reynolds Boulevard
Duluth, GA 30096
(770) 497-1155

Seo Ra Beol on Urbanspoon

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Don Soo Baek

Don Soo Baek

Remember what I said about Korean restaurants constantly reincarnating itself? This is one of them. This used to be my beloved Moon Family restaurant. I was so sad when I came in the day after Easter to find out they were closed — they never close! So I came back a few days later, on April 6th, and sure enough, my favorite place has been replaced by a new restaurant. They had only been open the day before.

Don Soo Baek

I came in ready to find faults. After all, they can’t be as good as the best Korean restaurant that has ever opened in Georgia; no one can replace (nor replicate) Moon Family. So I came in, pouting, stomping my feet, and with a heavy heart. I was immediately impressed by the warm reception from the servers, even though they still treated me like an amateur yankee. The menu was very limited and nothing was in English (that’s still the case up to now). I started asking about dishes using their Korean names — I may not speak Korean but I speak Korean Food fluently — I guess I earned street cred after that because they all started telling me what’s on the menu… in Korean. So for my first meal, I went with their specialty: pork soup.

Don Soo Baek

Don Soo Baek

Don Soo Baek

Don Soo Baek

One spoonful of this pork soup and DSB became my most favorite restaurant. I thought no restaurant can ever top Moon Family when it comes to awesome tasting Korean food. But this one is it. How do I know? If you haven’t noticed yet, I have eaten at almost all the Korean restaurants in the metro. I’ve been to 80+ of them. I can tell you the specialty of each Korean restaurant in Duluth and Suwanee. But back to the soup. This is the best soup in the history of Korean food in Georgia. The glorious tonkotsu broth has that glistening fat on top and the creaminess that only hours of boiling and breaking down the collagen from the pork bones can produce. There’s a lot of pork slices and offal, too, and those don’t taste porky at all. The correct way to eat this is to dump the rice into the soup. It’s why they call it pork rice soup (Daeji Guk Bap) to begin with. But the Chloe way to eat this is to spoon some soup and pork slices into your rice bowl a spoonful at a time. That way, you can adjust how soupy your every bite is.

Don Soo Baek

Don Soo Baek

I sent my good friend Gene, a Korean, of Eat Drink Man fame (and who also used to blog for the AJC) to this place the same week he came back from an eating tour of Korea and he, too, found this place legit. A “restaurant for the working class” is what he said the term is for good places like this. I made him eat their hearty Dak Doritang, a super spicy chicken stoup (a cross between a thick stew and a soupy soup). It’s my other favorite here. His verdict: delicious. The bold broth/sauce has the perfect balance of sweetish, savory, and spicy with large pieces of potatoes and at least half a chicken cut into huge chunks. The Chloe (and easy) way to eat this is to scoop out the chicken and transfer one piece at a time to the empty bowl provided to remove the bones and get the meat parts. Transfer the meat to your rice bowl, add soup and potatoes, then scoop to your mouth. Now you’re eating like a true Korean!

Don Soo Baek

Don Soo Baek

Every meal is ended with the awesome Yakult. If you didn’t grow up in a household where your mom’s weekly grocery shopping in Atlanta involved Food Giant, A&P, and YDFM and bringing home loads of Yakult like I did, then you missed out. This is a tasty, yogurt-tasting, lacto-bacilli drink that was really meant to be a kiddie drink. And if you’re like me and find yourself being liked by Asian elders everywhere because they are so tickled that you’re eating their authentic, acquired-tasting food, then you’ll get many presents from the kitchen. Like fruits and desserts reserved for the staff.

Don Soo Baek

I go here at least 2-3 times a week. Not only because I love Korean food but it’s like comfort food to me. Everything is good. The cold noodles (naengmyeon), the pork bone soup (gamjatang), and the pork and sundae (blood sausage) ssam are all phenomenal. I’ve added the Korean names of the dishes on this post to make it easy for you to order. One more note, this isn’t for the newbie Korean eater. It’s truly an authentic Korean joint. You won’t find mainstream Korean dishes here like tofu soup of bulgogi. I want all of you to love Korean food as much as I do and my honest advise is to start out with mainstream dishes at the myriad of places offering delicious versions in town (like Han Il Kwan, So Kong Dong, Seorabeol, Well Bean, or Book Chang Dong). Once you’re accustomed to the different flavors of the cuisine, graduate to a more advanced palate and come here. After all, it takes an acquired taste to love offal or pork neck bones in soup.

Don Soo Baek
3473 Old Norcross Road
Duluth, GA 30096
(770) 622-7780

Don Soo Baek on Urbanspoon

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Moksha Kitchen

Confession: Indian food isn’t a cuisine that comes to mind when I’m hungry. That’s because I have never found truly good Indian food in the city that will not gross you out or break the bank. Most places I’ve encountered have buffet service that are gross — the place is dirty and dank, and the food is never good. But I do love naan bread (or any bread for that matter) so my quest never stops. Three years ago, I found the best Indian food in the city. It’s at a place called Moksha Indian Cuisine in Roswell. The place is classy and clean and the food, well, it was the best Indian food ever. Unfortunately, as all good things come to an end, it ended up closing. It was not because of lack of customers or bad food, but because the road where it sits had to undergo a major construction that lasted forever. No one could get to their parking lot unless you make two u-turns on a very busy street where traffic is horrendous.

Moksha Kitchen (Duluth)

Moksha Kitchen (Duluth)
Paper plates and full service lunch from when they just opened

Last December, I was driving through Peachtree Industrial Blvd and lo and behold, a familiar sign caught my eye. I went by almost everyday to see when it would open. I came in on opening week and although the interior space hasn’t been completed yet, the food was the same outstanding food that only this place is capable of making. During that time, it was so bare bones that dishes were being served on paper plates and the floor was still bare concrete. Still, the food was unbelievably good. And it only makes sense, after all, this place is pedigreed — Udipi Cafe (home of the famous thalis) is a sister restaurant!

Moksha Kitchen (Duluth)

Moksha Kitchen (Duluth)

Moksha Kitchen (Duluth)

Moksha Kitchen (Duluth)

This month, they started doing a buffet lunch that includes Saturdays. This isn’t the usual gross Indian buffet lunches you’ve come to know. This is the ONLY Indian buffet lunch you need to know. First, the place is classy and super clean. There are no sticky booths or icky serving utensils you’d be afraid to touch; or dank carpet you don’t want even your dirty sneakers to walk on. Second, food is delicious. I have no other words except this is the best Indian food in Georgia. Third, the naan. You will never find a better naan. Ever.

Moksha Kitchen (Duluth)

Moksha Kitchen (Duluth)

Moksha Kitchen (Duluth)

While you can only expect the usual Northern Indian fare during lunch, they do change it up a bit daily so you won’t see identical dishes everyday. The tandoori chicken is moist and very tender; not dried out and tough. The butter chicken has a creamy sauce that you’d want to slurp or pour over your rice. The chicken curry will blow you away — there aren’t any boneless pieces which is the very reason it’s good. After all, stews with bony pieces are always far excellent in taste than those without. The saag paneer is the real thing. There are no tofu cubes parading as paneer cheese. You won’t find massive quantities of dishes where everything tastes the same. Instead, each dish is carefully prepared with quality ingredients and has its own distinct taste. You won’t find a better tasting Indian food anywhere.

Moksha Kitchen (Duluth)

Now let me tell you about the naan. This is the best naan you will ever have. Soft, pillowy, yeasty, and buttery. Trust me, a basket is not enough; you’ll be asking for more. I do.

For $10, this is the best Indian lunch buffet money can buy. Dinner time is when they get creative with notable Kerala cuisine such as Chicken Kheema (ground chicken cooked in garlic and spices and reduced until the sauce has bold flavors), Fish Malabar (fish in coconut milk and tamarind masala sauce), and Bagara Baingan (an eggplant dish in a garlicky/gingery curry sauce), just to name a few. Entreés start at $10 for dinner.

You will always see an Indian lunch buffet in every strip mall in every corner but you won’t see the quality and the superb taste of the dishes here. Now go and eat good Indian food for a change.

Moksha Kitchen
3294 Peachtree Industrial Blvd
Duluth, GA 30096
(678) 473-9288

Moksha Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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