Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ca Dao

4646 Buford Hwy, Suite R, Chamblee, GA

My friend John and I were driving along Buford Hwy on Christmas Eve, determined to randomly choose an ethnic spot for lunch. We passed a shopping center that I thought looked awfully familiar, and decided to go inside.

After about 20 minutes staring at the walls, booths and decor, I realized that this was the former Bamboo Grill & Hot Pot, which I reviewed back on May 20th. Apparently Bamboo Grill closed down in the middle of the summer, which was a real shame, in my opinion. Now the space houses a Vietnamese restaurant called Ca Dao.

We started with some spring rolls. Good, neatly wrapped and a true appetizer for the coming main courses.

For my entree, I chose the # 66, pork rice in clay pot. I loved the rich flavor of the twice cooked pork, and the sauteed vegetables. I also liked the rice, especially the grains at the bottom of the pot, which were cooked the longest and had an almost caramelized brown taste and appearance. However, I was disappointed with the meat & veggie to rice ratio: this dish was probably 70% rice. Fortunately it wasn't too expensive - most of the dishes at Ca Dao are under $9.

John ordered the # 82, a "special combination" of grilled pork and fried shrimp with other fried crispy things (despite our best efforts, we couldn't tell exactly what these things were) inside a rice paper wrap. This dish was very similar to a thick spring roll, about 6 inches long, only with a harder outside and the strange crispy things within. Just because I couldn't identify the ingredients doesn't mean I didn't like # 82. I did. However, I wouldn't consider it a meal, especially if you've got a big appetite.

Besides the clay pot dishes and rice paper rolls, Ca Dao has an extensive menu of pho soup, always a great choice for a cold day. You can get any combination of beef/pork/tripe/shrimp with vegetables and good broth. I didn't order any pho on Friday, so I can't compare it to great nearby restaurants like Pho Bac, but Ca Dao looks right at home on Buford Hwy, so I bet it's pretty good here.

Oh, and the tea is good here. A nice jasmine, not bitter at all, and not sweet.

Service was fine. Good luck to the owners in getting more business. Ca Dao was pretty deserted on Christmas Eve.

Verdict: Worth a stop.

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