Sunday, September 20, 2009

Quoc Huong - Atlanta

Still in Atlanta, and I’m on the prowl for lunch. Sure there are plenty of places to eat in Buckhead or Midtown, but I’m inevitably drawn to Buford Highway. This time, I’ve got bánh mi in mind. For those unaware, a banh mi is the product of French colonialism in Vietnam. It combines a crisp baguette with a plethora of Asian flavors.

According to the Blissful Glutton, the best bánh mi in Atlanta is sold at Quoc Huong.

I should have known from the start that Quoc Huong would be in the middle of a shopping center, but I had to make a full loop around the 99 Ranch center before I could find it.

Once I was inside, I was quickly seated and shown a menu.

I love how many condiments are available at a Vietnamese restaurant. There’s everything from sugar to fish sauce, to pickled jalapenos.

After some quick advice from the waitress I had my order in. The first thing to arrive was the special combination bánh mi (bánh mi dac biet)

Can you believe this sandwich only cost $2.50?

Inside the crispy baguette was a sweet bbq pork with loads of carrots and cilantro. I was really surprised how that much cilantro was only a background flavor. Usually any piece of cilantro dominates the conversation but this was just a delicious, balanced sandwich.

Since they were so cheap, I decided to try the bbq pork sandwich as well (bánh mi thit nuong)

Where the combo sandwich had been a little sweet, this bbq was a much bolder, spicy flavor mostly due to the prodigious amount of jalapenos in the sandwich. There still was that odd, but tasty sweetness from the cilantro, but the best part of this sandwich was the perfectly cooked bbq pork.

I should have stopped with this, but no, I’m pig headed.

I figured I couldn’t go to a Vietnamese place and not try the pho

Here the pho dac biet is essentially a noodle soup with “beef combination”, and this soup seemed to have everything

There were slices of flank steak

sliced beef balls

And the easily concealed tripe. All of the beef pieces were superb, and the tripe in particular had just the right amount of chewiness. What really set this pho apart from others was the sheet depth of flavor in the broth. Not only was the flavor deeper, it was a much darker color than my local pho as well. I only wish I had more room for the soup, but even eating just ½ of the banh mis was a filling venture.

As good as the food was, the best part of the meal was the price. Can you believe that I got all that food for just a hair over $10? Not only was the pho delicious, I was finally able to enjoy a banh mi and I can’t believe I waited this long. Granted, I have nothing to compare Quoc Huong with, but they do make a fine sandwich and soup. Maybe next time I’ll try some more of their extensive menu.

Quoc Huong on Urbanspoon

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