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Phoenix Noodle Cafe: the best pho

This is Atlanta’s best kept secret — it’s the best Vietnamese restaurant in town. Hands down. Aside from consistently scoring a Health Code rating between 99 to 100 since opening day almost three years ago, they have the best service, the best food, and the best bubble tea. The best. I know, I’m a Phoenix Noodle groupie — eating there at least twice a week since opening day and on first-name basis with the entire staff.

A little background story… the famous Canton House (best overpriced dimsum) on Buford Highway was owned mainly by two Vietnamese brothers. Early 2004, one of the brothers who was also the main chef, got out of the partnership and opened Phoenix Noodle on Peachtree Industrial Blvd across from The Forum Shops. A family-run business, the ex-partner/dad is the head chef, the mom is the hostess/cashier, the dad’s sister is manager/server, and all four Georgia Tech/Georgia State-graduate sons are part-time servers.

Pho is what Vietnamese cuisine is known for over here. It’s a soup that is actually a breakfast food in Vietnam, commonly sold on the streets. It is made with beef broth with rice noodles and topped with thin slices of steak, beef tripe, and beef tendon to which you add fresh basil leaves, fresh bean sprouts, lime juice, and jalapeno slices. When we were young, my mom had a very close Vietnamese friend who we’d visit on weekends. Most times, we’d get invited to stay for dinner. She made the best home-made pho. The best. And so her pho was my standard. It has been a life-long mission to find pho as good as hers.

In the 90s there was a Vietnamese restaurant inside the Burlington Coat Factory plaza on Buford Highway called Pho Ca Dao. The chef was a little old Vietnamese lady who spoke no English. She made great the best pho. As good as my mom’s friend’s pho. Never mind the dingy atmosphere — it was frequented by a lot of Vietnamese and came highly-recommended by my Vietnamese friends. Sadly, the place closed down a few years ago. I’ve been to almost all Vietnamese restaurants in Atlanta and none has ever come close to my mom’s friend’s pho or even Pho Ca Dao’s. Until now.

Phoenix Noodle’s pho is not only comfort food. It is delicious: tasty and full-bodied with that simmered-for-hours taste. Everything on the menu is good. Every item. From the fried and fresh spring/basil rolls to all the grilled meat/shrimp plates (best value for the money), to the vermicelli noodle bowls, to the entrees. There is nothing you could order wrong. The tender spicy salt and pepper squid which is very lightly battered then fried served with a sweet-salty sauce is enough to lure you to come. Best of all, the bubble tea — tea-based cold drinks (or smoothie) which come in assorted flavors that you can mix and match with tapioca pearls (balls) or cubes of fruit jelly. Highly recommended flavors are honeydew, fresh avocado, coffee, taro (potato-like), lychee, watermelon, mango, and rainy day (assorted berries).

Insider tip:

  • Some bubble tea flavors are made with real fruit depending on availability. This week they have cantaloupe, watermelon, strawberry, and avocado.
  • Lunch menu entrees come with soup.
  • There’s a separate kid’s menu that includes noodle dishes and grilled chicken.
  • The pho rice noodles can be substituted with low-carb Japanese clear noodles for $2 more. (They had to search and go to great lengths to find a low-carb noodle-substitute but personally, I found it altered the taste of the pho.)
  • They chef is very willing and so versatile that he can accommodate special orders — this week we requested him to cook a Malaysian noodle dish.
  • You can request a bowl of plain pho broth for $2 and a side of fried egg is $1.
  • By default, you will be served with a sweet-salty sauce (for eggrolls and fried entrees) but you can ask for the equally-delicious Thai-style sweet-and-sour sauce.

The scoop:
Phoenix Noodle Cafe

5450 Peachtree Parkway, Suite 2E
Norcross, Georgia 30092
Sun – Thur: 10:30 AM – 10:00 PM
Fri – Sat: 10:30 AM – 11:00 PM

Phoenix Noodle Cafe on Urbanspoon

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13 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Chow Down Atlanta » Event: Chopstix For Charity // Aug 3, 2007 at 9:34 am

    [...] provided by famous Asian restaurants around Atlanta including Phoenix Noodle, Canton Cooks, and more. Don’t miss this fun event. Tickets available online at Chopstix [...]

  • 2 Joanne // Oct 24, 2007 at 4:26 pm

    I’m looking for a place like this…but IN TOWN….Does it exist? We’d like to find something near Virginia-Highlands, Midtown or downtown…but we don’t think it will ever happen….will it?

    Someone PLEASE enlighten us!

  • 3 Pho Mimi Noodle House // Aug 28, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    [...] everywhere else. For great Vietnamese food, I would go to What The Pho up the street (2 blocks) or Phoenix Noodle. Better yet, for convenience, the one inside Super H Mart makes good [...]

  • 4 What The Pho // Dec 17, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    [...] a handful of good Vietnamese places in the city. Two of my go-to places when the craving hits are Phoenix Noodle and here which has been a favorite haunt of mine for 3 years now. Vietnamese restaurants are only [...]

  • 5 Nicci // Jan 17, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    We went to Phoenix Noodle last weekend to try what you said was the “best pho”. It was the least authentic pho that I have ever tasted. The broth was muddy and bland, the noodles were over cooked and the garnish was only bean sprouts and basil. When I asked for Cilantro, the server thought I was crazy and tried to argue with me. It is ALWAYS served with the addition of cilantro or culantro. Our cha gio, fried egg rolls, were mushy and indescribable…when I asked for fresh chili for the dipping sauce, they gave me jalapenos rather than Thai bird chili. My husband’s crushed rice plate with pork was dry and chewy. The shaking beef did not come with lime, salt and pepper for dipping and the meat was over cooked tasting of burnt soy sauce. I was so frustrated that I asked the server if anyone was Vietnamese ad he said “no”. Bottom line is that this restaurant is NOT Vietnamese, it’s Chinese that makes a poor attempt at offering another cuisine that they do not know enough about. Definitions on of a menu do not make them experienced and I have to wonder if they have even read them themselves. I am Vietnamese and overall the food was a true disappointment. Reminds me why I should not venture too far from Buford Hwy. In my book, Da Loi currently has the best pho in Atlanta. I was told by Nam that they will be serving pho for lunch soon and Mama claims that hers is the best.

  • 6 Chloe // Jan 18, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    Nicci — such a shame that you had a bad experience. By the way — the owners (and cook) are Chinese-Vietnamese.

  • 7 Nicci // Jan 18, 2009 at 11:54 pm

    Perhaps the people you speak of were off the day that I went. All I can say is that I asked if anyone was Vietnamese and the server answered “no”. This offered the only solution to me for the lack of authenticity.

  • 8 Daniel // May 5, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    This reviewer has no idea what good pho is. This place is not authentic in anyway and I would definitely not recommend it. If you like that type of pho, go for it. I love pho and I can enjoy even a all right bowl of pho. I also know what’s great and what’s bad. This place fell in the bad category, to warn those that know what pho is supposed to taste like.

  • 9 Chloe // May 5, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    @Daniel — and what again makes you such an “expert” on pho? You seem to have omitted that crucial piece of information. So a Vietnamese chef making Vietnamese pho is not authentic? Enlighten me, oh dear pho guru!

  • 10 Nicci // May 5, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    And what makes you the pho guru, Chloe?

  • 11 Nicci // May 5, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    Are you having a bad day? Your response to Daniel was a bit harsh. Again, I have to agree with what he has said in his post regarding this restaurant.

  • 12 Chloe // May 5, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    @Nicci — I don’t remember saying I was a pho guru, do you? Hmm…

    And my response to Daniel was a bit harsh? So you think saying “This reviewer has no idea what good pho is.” is not harsh? Well, that commenter has no manners!

    There’s a difference between disagreeing and being nasty. You can all disagree with me as much as you want. I like that. And I publish both negative and positive comments. I published yours even though you disagreed with me. I like that my readers have preferences. I have my own, too. My opinion on food will never be the same as everybody’s. Let me also remind you that an opinion is never wrong no matter whose it is. But the minute you tell me that I don’t know what I’m talking about (read: my opinion is wrong) and ALSO have the audacity to add that “I also know what’s great and what’s bad”, well, you better be ready to back up your claim. Because in my book, that constitutes nasty, no?

  • 13 Zilla // Jul 22, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    Went to Phoenix today and found out that the owner is retiring and closing the restaurant this Sunday. I’m glad I was able to get one last lunch in before they closed…Now on to search for more Pho and Bubble Tea decently close to Roswell.

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