Friday, January 29, 2010

Pho What? Vietnamese Filet Mignon Is Where It's At

Last week, The Affordable Foodie visited So Ba, a new Vietnamese restaurant that opened last month in East Atlanta. So Ba took over the building that was most recently home to La Casita Cantina, where owner Nhan Le has replaced cacti and sombreros with minimalist Asian decor and dim lighting. While most Atlantans seem obsessed with finding the most authentic pho in town, we were eager to sample So Ba's bun (Vietnamese rice noodles) and com (broken jasmine rice) dishes.

Let's be clear - we're not dissing pho by any means. We appreciate quality Asian noodle soup as much as the next gal. However, we're glad we stuck to our guns and ordered some of the other traditional Vietnamese fare So Ba offers. By following that path, we discovered the holy grail of AF dishes: Com Bo Luc Lac, a.k.a. Vietnamese broken fried rice with marinated cubed filet mignon.

At the extremely reasonable price of $11, this dish completely blew us away. So Ba's version of what's called "shaken beef" at other Vietnamese restaurants reminds us of an entree you'd get at a Japanese steakhouse, but it's about a third of the price. The filet was super tender and flavored with a marinade of onion, garlic, soy and rice vinegar. The plentiful portion of meat is served with an even larger portion of fried rice laced with egg.

We also ordered one of the five bun dishes on the menu, choosing chicken as our grilled meat and requesting an addition of pieces of fried egg roll to adorn our room temperature rice noodles. The interplay of silky noodles with crisp lettuce, bean sprouts, crunchy cucumbers, pickled carrots, chopped peanuts, fresh herbs and perfectly grilled chicken is just the right blend of flavors and textures. Our favorite part is letting the fried spring roll soak up the sweet and tangy fish sauce that collects at the bottom of the bowl.

Until the liquor license arrives at some point in February, So Ba is BYOB, so take advantage while you can. AF is planning to head back to this little Vietnamese jewel soon. If we can take our minds off the bun and com, we might just try the pho next time.

p.s. We brought our camera and tried to take some photos, but due to the dim lighting, they didn't turn out. Sorry, we'll try again in the future.

So Ba
East Atlanta Village
560 Gresham Ave.
Atlanta, GA 30316

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