Friday, June 12, 2015

Pho Bac - Buford Hwy at Chamblee Tucker Rd

Pho Bac is located at 4897 Buford Hwy NE, Chamblee GA 30341 (about a block from the intersection of Buford Hwy and Chamblee-Tucker Rd) in the same shopping center as some other Asian favorites, Penang, Harmony Vegetarian and Mini Hot Pot. The restaurant is unassuming with lots of glass, bright lights and the fantastic smell of broth. Parking is extensive but you may need to park across the lot during busy times.

 The menu is extensive with many Vietnamese favorites - variations of meats, broths and vegetables. This is one of my favorite cuisines, with a purity of flavors and an obvious appreciation of freshness. While there are some better pho restaurants nearby, this is the closest to my home and is extremely convenient from I285 or I85.

Pho Ga is still my go-to place for pho, especially for pho ga (white meat chicken). At one time I had some issues with inconsistency and downgraded my review, but I'm happy to say that during the last few years, both at lunch and dinner, I've had a great experience. The staff is very attentive here with very kind servers - even if you've just had something hotter than expected and drained your water glass, raising your hand at any employee with an empty cup will get you a quick refill. The food was excellent.

I went once again last week during lunch and it was very busy with only a few unoccupied tables. They still close relatively early (make sure you get there before 8:45 or so or they may turn you away). Prices have gone up about a buck per bowl, but don't let that dissuade you, especially if you're looking for chicken (and who doesn't want a bowl of delicious chicken soup when it's cold outside?). The medium bowl was enough to fill me, even with a huge appetite. The "salad" was appropriately fresh with jalapenos, Asian cilantro, Asian basil and sprouts. The white meat chicken was juicy with thick slices, the broth perfect and the noodles very filling and delicious.

We started with the shrimp and pork spring rolls (these are called something different in just about every place you go but if you specify "shrimp and pork spring roll" you'll get the right thing just about anywhere). These were really good, served with a peanut Hoisin dip - you can basically make a meal out of these if inclined as they come three to an order. If you think you might want to try a smoothie, check out the Caribbean coconut - not too sweet but with a slightly citrus, coconut flavor - tapioca optional. My other favorite and this might sound weird if you've never had it, is the avocado smoothy - the fatty avocado is perfect when blended and provides a less-sweet treat that's simply delicious.

When I come here with friends from work they often do a "soup and sandwich" - basically the small bowl of pho with a Banh Mi sandwich - while there are better sandwiches in the neighborhood (Lee's Bakery comes to mind), these are quite good, very filling and super cheap. Another dish worth trying (and really, everything on the menu is quite good) is the Banh Hoi (Tiny Rice Stick) - it's a real treat with a variety of meats.

As usual no AmEx at the checkout (you pay at the counter), but that's fairly consistent with Asian restaurants, especially on Buford Hwy and in Duluth. I like that they don't have an annoying TV blasting at you and the mirrored ends of the dining room make the place look much bigger than it is (don't be fooled though, they can handle a fairly large party if you're thinking about having one, just make sure you call ahead).

(much shorter, similar review posted in 2013 to Yelp)
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