Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Vietnamese Virgin

A couple nights ago, Kara and I met a fellow foodie friend who I’m sure many of you know as Atlanta’s Foodie Buddha at Pho Dai Loi on Buford Highway per his suggestion. We love dining with The Buddha because he knows great places that we most likely would not venture to without his all-knowing guidance.

Now, I had never eaten Vietnamese food before this week. I’ve ALWAYS wanted to try it, but like many people just had no clue what to order. So, with FB and Kara's vast knowledge of this particular food genre, they guided me and covered all the bases. We started with two types of steamed spring rolls: one filled with freshly shredded, spicy pork and another standard steamed basil roll with shrimp.

Both rolls and their respective dipping sauces were delicious. The pork spring roll (my personal favorite) came with a light, sweet and sour fish sauce that was delicious and even more delicious when poured over my Com (broken rice with chicken marinated in lemon grass) but we will get to that later….the shrimp spring roll was served with a tantalizing peanut sauce.

Then came the Pho. FB wanted me to try a version with tripe (stomach lining), but being a Pho virgin and all, I felt I needed to ease into it a bit. So, we agreed that I’d order the #12, a small bowl of Pho (anything but small) with flank steak and marble brisket. YUM! As Kara and FB chatted about how soup is actually good for you when it’s hot outside because of its ability to balance out your body temperature and what not, I was busy devouring my Pho with a vengeance. Word to the wise: Pho is not the best first date meal. Lucky I was amongst fellow foodie friends who don’t judge you when you’re stuffing your face.

Next came our Com, #43 marinated lemon grass chicken over broken Jasmine rice and my personal favorite, #27 vermicelli rice noodles with marinated grilled shrimp, grilled pork and crispy spring rolls.

The Com with the lemon grass was not my favorite despite covering it in the extraordinary sweet and sour fish sauce (which, for all you virgins, you are supposed to do FYI). I found the dish to be a bit dry and underwhelming. However, it was an off night for that dish according to our friend and Pho Dai Loi regular FB.

Now on to the Bun. The Bun was particularly delicious to me. It was the perfect blend of grilled pork (that almost tasted sweet), vermicelli noodles, fresh herbs, grilled shrimp and crispy fried spring roll filled with pork – again, all covered in tangy fish sauce. The perfect bite. The combination of textures in the dish really appealed to me. What I will add next time: egg (no runny yolk, please). What will I subtract: the shrimp. No need to take away from that pork.

Everything we ordered was under $10, and Pho Dai Loi doesn't serve alcohol, so it's BYOB. FYI: the kind restaurant staff is happy to supply a can opener from the kitchen if you forget your bottle opener.

Pho Dai Loi will definitely see more of me. In fact, you might walk in there and see me sitting solo at a banquet table in the back (what our waiter suggested for our party because we ordered so much food, and he was right!) eating my Bun with extra pork and egg :) Oh and don't forget the “small” Pho!

Pho Dai Loi II
4186 Buford Hwy NE # G
Atlanta, GA 30345-1067
Phone: 404-633-2111
NOTE: there's another location in Forest Park

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