Monday, November 23, 2009

Pho Dai Loi 2: Vietnamese Comfort Food

Last weekend, I was feeling bleh and my usually chipper girlfriend Megan was feeling a little under the weather. We decided some comfort food was in order, but not the Cracker Barrel or Boston Market variety. 

We were thinking a visit to Buford Highway was just what the doctor ordered.

Based on a comment from Eat Buford Highway, we headed over to Pho Dai Loi 2 (near the intersection of Clairmont Road and Buford Highway). This little gem was abuzz with activity despite our later lunch arrival time. A host directed us to a table, pushed menus in our hands and asked us what we wanted to drink. Tea for me, please.

The scene: Pho Dai Loi 2 on Buford Highway

We ordered (shrimp) spring rolls to start. We spent the next few minutes checking out the scene. The patrons of this cafeteria-esque restaurant ranged from families and solitary veterans to college kids and what looked to be a pickup soccer team. And I don't know what this observation means exactly, but I saw more designer purses in that one-hour time frame than I did in Lenox Mall the week before. Hmmm. Interesting.

The spring rolls weren't much unlike those from my C'om experience in the recent weeks past, with the exception of these being more heavy on the lettuce. I could eat the dark brown peanut sauce on shoe leather (mmm... I think it's that good) but Megan felt overall "meh" about the flavor of the sauce. (I realize "meh" isn't a very technical term, so let's just pretend it basically equals "take it over leave it" or "so so.") The rolls weren't super special to me (and I couldn't taste the shrimp that well), but the price was noteworthy: a super minimal $2.95 for two large, fresh rolls.

Megan and I both knew what we came for entree-wise: the pho (pronounced "fah"). Not knowing which of the traditional, brothy, noodly creations would be most satisfying, I asked the waiter for his recommendation. He suggested the pho tai nam (#9 on the menu) because it came with both flank and round steak. I went for the medium-sized portion ($5.95). All of this talking about noodles, steak and broth got Megan thinking that the pho tai nam would be a good choice for her as well.

Our soup entrees came out of the kitchen almost immediately. I'll have to be honest in saying that I was rather overwhelmed at first; I expected bursts of spices and meaty flavors but mostly got a chicken brothy flavor, even after I added some of the garnishes served on the side (sprouts, lime, Thai basil, etc. — I held off on the jalapenos). 

Can you see that the thinly sliced beef is still just a little rare? It's cooking a little more in the hot broth (thank you, Megan, for pointing this out).

That's when my yapping did me a favor (you see, I'm quite the talker, even when I should be eating).

Like a nice tea, the longer the hearty rice noodles steeped in the lime juice, basil and other accoutrements, the better it tasted and the more infused the flavors became. Mmmmm. And the aroma that accompanied also felt comforting. The whole experience reminded me of eating a fresh bowl of chicken noodle soup, but of the Vietnamese variety. 

Megan and I agreed on the meat though. We preferred the the slightly tougher flank steak to the chewier, fattier round. Next time, I'll order just the round.

My lovely dining companion... Miz Megan.

The verdict: you hit up a pho spot (like Pho Dai Loi) not so much for the flavor but for the comfort and the warmth — and you can't beat the price. The popularity of this place also shows its strength as a Vietnamese staple on BuHi.

Pho Dai Loi 2
4186 Buford Hwy NE
AtlantaGA 30345

(404) 633-2111
Yelp site:


Ravenous Couple said...

Pho is def. ultimate comfort food. Never had Vietnamese food in the ATL, but will keep this in mind next time there

Kb_Mal said...

Ravenous Couple - Buford Highway in Atlanta has more international food than you would ever realize. Do consider Pho Dai Loi but also do some online investigations (check out the blog). Enjoy!

Miss jane said...
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