Tuesday, February 2, 2010
4897 Buford Hwy., Suite 105, Chamblee, GA 770/986-4273
Remember my post a couple of weeks ago about casseroles, and how they are the perfect winter food? Another great contender for that title is pho, traditional Vietnamese noodle soup. It's hearty, it's warming, it's even pretty healthy. And no one does it better than Pho Bac on Buford Highway.
Okay, so Pho Bac isn't pretty. As my friend Paul pointed out during our dinner there last week, it looks like a cafeteria. It's located in one of the many nearly identical shopping centers that characterize Buford Highway. The service is average. But you aren't going there for the ambiance, or for the service. You're going there for the piping hot soup that comes out within minutes of placing your order.
The soup menu isn't quite as extensive as at Pho 96, but it's still sufficient. There are plenty of pho options for you to choose from: any combination of steak, tripe, flank and tendon is available. Soup is served up in small, medium and large bowls, and the medium will be enough to satisfy most appetites. Regardless of what type of soup you select, all the smalls are $5.25, and mediums are $6.45. This means that you can easily eat a great dinner for less than $10, even after tipping. As my hero, Clark Howard, would say: What a Deal!!
This time I was determined to get something different, so I ordered the #17A Pho Tom, which is shrimp noodle soup. It was fantastic. The shrimp were plump and lovely, and the broth was spectacular. If you've ever enjoyed pho, you know that the broth is the key - it's a savory, fragrant delicacy unlike any other food you've ever eaten. Pho Bac, which has been around for longer than most of its competitors on Buford Highway, has it down pat.
I also tried the sweet rice bean pudding, which was a little odd. It arrived in a large Styrofoam cup, and all I could see when I looked within was small, milky ice cubes. After removing about ten tablespoons of ice I finally made it down to "the good stuff", which was coconut flavored red beans and some sort of sweet, green, gummy candies. Not at all the consistency of pudding, and a strange combination, yes, but it worked.
Pho Bac also serves various rice dishes, vermicelli, and at least twenty different flavors of smoothie type beverages.
Verdict: A tried and true pho restaurant.