Tuesday, November 10, 2009
5000 Buford Hwy, Ste. C, Chamblee, GA 770/452-9644
Last night my friend Brad and I had dinner at Pho 96 on Buford Hwy. I do not claim to be a Vietnamese pho aficionado, so when I get a jones for pho I have to consult someone with a true pho fever - in this case I want to thank John for the good recommendation.
I ordered pho with beef brisket and well-done flank steak. The aroma of my soup was totally mesmerizing. the broth was rich and complex. The brisket was so tender it was falling apart in my bowl, and the flank steak was especially flavorful. Despite being described as "well done" the flavor hadn't been cooked out of it. The rice noodles were silky. I added a little fresh basil, a few bean sprouts and a squeeze of lime from the large serving dish provided with our entrees and was quite satisfied with my meal.
Brad ordered a beef and rice vermicelli dish (pictured above) topped with fresh cilantro, onions and carrots. He gave the dish a thumbs up. We shared an order of spring rolls which contained large, fat and fresh shrimp accompanied by a shredded carrot and peanut dipping sauce. Great stuff.
I also noticed that there were more than 40 different beverages (non-alcoholic only) on the menu, although I was too full of spring rolls and soup to sample any of them.
Pho in general is very inexpensive. I ordered a small bowl for under $7 that more than met my needs. If you're on a budget, Pho 96 is a very good choice. You may want to forgo the specialty beverages in this case, because they all appeared to cost at least $3 each. Considering that you get free (and Brad says authentic) tea with your meal, you're hardly in need of an additional beverage anyway. Both entrees and appetizer came to $17 before gratuity. Our service was also cordial and attentive, so I was happy to leave a nice tip.
When we arrived at 7pm Pho 96 was completely empty. When we left there were customers dining at about four other tables, which is still pretty scant. With all of the pho competition (the famous Pho Bac is within sight on the same street) I wonder how long this place can afford to stay in business. Brad suggested that the bulk of the patrons may dine much closer to closing time, which I believe is 10pm on weeknights. Hopefully this is the case.
Verdict: Good food with fresh ingredients that hits the spot.