Friday, July 17, 2009

Co'm




4005-E Buford Hwy, Atlanta http://www.comgrill.com/

A few notes before I begin the review: If I somehow made it to 10 reviews without covering at least one restaurant on Buford Hwy I would certainly be remiss, so here goes. Also, this restaurant has two locations, one on Buford Hwy and one on Chamblee-Dunwoody Rd. Kyle told me I technically shouldn't blog about it because this means it's a chain. In my opinion, two links do not a chain make, so I am reviewing as planned.

Last night Kyle, Heidi and I ate dinner at Co'm Vietnamese Grill. Co'm is located on Buford Hwy, among one of the many shopping centers on that street where no sign is in English and there's not clear anchor store to look for when you're driving by. Co'm is near the intersection of Buford Hwy and Clairmont Rd. It is in the corner of the shopping center next to the Carniceria Mi Pueblo meat market & groceries. When you're on Buford Hwy, look for the Chevron and turn.
The reason I am giving you such specific directions is because I don't want you to go in search of Co'm only to get frustrated and give up when you can't find it. Trust me, it's worth the extra effort to locate the place.

I don't usually like Vietnamese food. In fact, it's my least favorite ethnic cuisine next to Korean food which includes my personal pick for the worst dish on earth, kimchi. Therefore, it is truly amazing how much I love eating at Co'm.

My friend John found Co'm last year, simply by driving along Buford Hwy in search of Vietnamese food and choosing the restaurant at random. Afterwards he couldn't stop talking about it, and I finally broke down and agreed to try it, if for no other reason than to shut him up.

We ordered a massive mixed seafood plate with vermicelli and I stuffed myself to the gills, shocked by the excellent quality of each item. Since then I've returned twice, bringing new friends each time.

Last night Heidi and Kyle both ordered the bun la lot bo, which is rice vermicelli with beef wrapped in grilled grape leaves. I have ordered this dish before and so recommended it to my companions. Heidi loved it. Kyle thought the meat was too rich, somewhat on par with the heavily spiced beef kabobs served in Persian restaurants. However, he did enjoy the grilled grape leaves, the tender vermicelli and the slivers of carrot served with the meat.
I ordered the Co'm tam hai san, which is seafood fragrant rice, accompanied by your choice of charcoal grilled flounder or tilapia. Tilapia is fine, but when given a choice I will always take flounder. It proved to be an good decision, because the grilled flounder was incredible. It was a beautiful tan in color, with darker edges and a marvelous, smoky charcoal scent. It had a slightly spicy kick. A bite of the flounder with a little rice and cilantro, dipped into the ubiquitous Vietnamese dipping sauce nuoc cham, was an unbeatable combination. The nuoc cham complements any dish, and while it contains fish sauce and red pepper chili flakes it's quite sweet.

A note here: if you dislike cilantro, don't even set foot in this restaurant. The cooks include the fresh herb in every dish, and while it doesn't overpower the other ingredients it definitely makes it's presence known.

For dessert, you might notice that there is a short dessert list in the back of your menu. The restaurant no longer makes any of these desserts, and instead makes one dessert that changes daily. The last time I ate at Co'm I was given a lovely mango custard, this time we were given silky espresso and chocolate cake. Both were good, made even better because they're included automatically with the dinner at no extra charge. Co'm is a great deal all the way around: Kyle, Heidi and I enjoyed 3 entrees and 2 beverages for $30.

I've only tried one beverage at Co'm, the cafe sua da, or espresso iced coffee with condensed milk. Those of you who are sensitive to caffeine should consider yourself warned: I drank this the first time I ate there with John at 2pm and I was still wide awake at 3am. Tasty, but powerful.

Verdict: A true star on the always promising Buford Hwy. The best Vietnamese food I've had to date in Atlanta.

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