Monday, October 26, 2009

Restaurant Review: C'om Vietnamese Grill

After much oggling over Cliff Bostock's personal Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants, I knew I had to check out C'om Vietnamese Grill. Not only do I covet all of his dining experiences (I just can't afford most of them myself), I haven't had Vietnamese in WAY too long.

On top of an intense yearning for a vermicelli rice bowl, I found out my friends Marnie and Lauren were Buford Highway food virgins. We had to go their for Saturday lunch!

The first address that popped into my google search was the Dunwoody location. Well, turns out that location isn't open until dinner on Saturdays. Fail. Lucky for us, the Buford Highway location was only about 5 miles and 10 minutes away. After some mild frustration, we all arrived safely at our destination.

We looked at each other pensively as we parked in front of the Chevron gas station, within feet of a burger king. The outside of the strip mall restaurant left something to be desired. The bright, almost cartoony panels plastered on top of the windows were reminiscent of Japanese candy and snack packaging.

We have arrived at C'om.

The interior, however, was a little more luxe than the pump stations, cracked cement slabs and nail salons in the immediate vicinity. We set our eyes on a mostly burgundy dining room with about 15 to 20 tables. To my maybe ignorant surprise, we only saw two tables (out of seven) with Asian patrons. And so we sat.

Lauren has tried (and enjoyed) Vietnamese in the past but this was Marnie's first time. We flipped through the simple, straightforward Vietnamese/English language menu. Appetizers were in order. Because we already had a decent idea of what we wanted to order as entrees, we went with a different meat in our appetizer. Beef spring rolls.

The spring rolls and sauce included a great balance of spices, acidity, char and heat. We particularly enjoyed how well the beef was cooked — with a nice smokey flavor grilled just enough. Our $4.00 appetizer was scarfed up in moments.

Beef spring rolls were a hit with our group.

This picture is evidence of how much of a hit they were...

Lauren and Marnie ponder the flavor profile differences among different types of Asian cuisine. Just kidding. We were probably talking about high heels or Halloween costumes.

Cliff mentioned the grape leaf bún as one of his favorite entrees. All deciding that his taste must be good (and that the vermicelli salad/noodle bowl description sounded rather divine), we three ladies opted for three different variations of the bún. I went with grape leaves stuffed with duck variety. Lauren, the pork tenderloin. Marnie had the lamb.

We voted "yes" for the bún at C'om Grill.

What fun it is to stir up a big bowl of Vietnamese bún. First you notice the meat on top. After you pour your fish sauce on top (it's less scary than it sounds, I promise), each turn of the fork reveals more diverse ingredients. Noodles give way to shredded lettuce that give way to petitely-sliced fried onions and crushed peanuts. Each bite was surprisingly complex. It wasn't until about halfway through that Marnie mentioned tasting a hint of mint along with the cilantro and garlic. Yum.

We were all happy with our selections. I ate most of it, but I felt that my duck was gamier than expected. The lamb was the clear winner at our table. I thoroughly enjoyed the flavor of the meal but also enjoyed that I left the meal feeling satisfied but not overly full (unlike Chinese food, even good Chinese food).

The total bill was also a winner — under $10 (plus tip) per person for a split appetizer and an entree each. We didn't partake at lunch, but our server told us that C'om does have a full beer and wine menu.

C'om Vietnamese Grill

4005-E Buford Hwy (corner of Clairmont and Buford, inside Buford Plaza)

Atlanta, GA 30345



Traci said...

Hi - just happened across your blog :) Com is GREAT isn't it?! We've been going there for years now! Haven't been in a while though, so need to go back. Another not-to-be-missed restaurant on Buford Hwy is Panahar. Best Bangladeshi / Indian food around!

Sam said...

You should try pho next time. I absolutely love - its noodle soup and you can get either vegetarian or meat based. The taste is out of this world.

Kb_Mal said...

Traci - thanks for stopping by. I will take note of Panahar. What should I order? I will also pass this along to a friend who loves all things Indian!

Sam, good to know about the pho. I'll definitely be back to C'om so it will be good to try something different.

Traci said...

Panahar's owner (Mirza) is always happy to make recommendations for what to order, depending on what you like :) Sometimes he'll even recommend a dish that isn't on the menu. I have to admit that I'm usually boring and have the Chicken Tikka simply because I like it so much - just the right amount of spice without being super-hot. I've also had the Fish Dopiazza which is very good. My husband has had lamb and beef prepared various ways and liked them all. The naan is REALLY good also if you like bread.

Kb_Mal said...

I haven't eaten dinner yet tonight, Traci, and you're making me hungry! The chicken tikka sounds great. And mmm, naan. But I bet I'd like it all. Thanks again for the rec!

BuHi said...

Glad to see you discovering Buford Highway. C'om is good, but it's a bit "fancy" for Vietnamese. You should give Pho Dai Loi 2 down the street a try - definitely the best Viet in the area. Also, Lee's Bakery, right next door to C'om, has good bun and banh mi.

Kb_Mal said...

Yes, I'm starting to branch out. I've been to Mini Hot Pot three times (it's an adventure), Hae Woon Dae (sp?) a few times and also just hit up Cafe 101. I need to do more and blog about them.

Thanks for the Thai rec. I can definitely do more hole-in-the-wall.

p.s. your blog came up over lunch at C'om. One of my friends asked where I have heard about places on Buford Highway... it was the perfect plug for your blog.

Miss jane said...