Sunday, April 3, 2011

Pho 24 - Atlanta

It’s time for another stop on the search for excellent pho. This time, I was in Atlanta on everyone’s favorite ethnic hot spot, Buford Highway. As you may well know, there is no shortage of Vietnamese restaurants in this part of town, but it’s not that often you see one on Scout Mob. Thus, with a discount and hot broth in mind, Jennifer, Aaron, and I paid a visit to Atlanta’s newest 24-hour Vietnamese restaurant, Pho 24.

Looking through the menu, it was a lineup of the usual suspects: pho, bun, com, banh mi, all the Vietnamese favorites. I never really know where to start, so I did what came naturally and ordered a few appetizers. The goi cuon (spring rolls) was the first appetizer out of the kitchen.
Served with a side of nuoc leo, these looked like promising goi cuon.
You have to love the translucent nature of rice paper wrappers.
There was a nice punch of basil to these spring rolls.

An order of cha gio (egg rolls) was next.
They looked a little on the small side, but that was the least of their problems.
These eggrolls were cold, greasy, and generally unappetizing. The nuoc cham was a nice side if a little sweet, but who cares when the egg rolls are this old and unappealing?

It just doesn’t feel right to eat pho without this tray on the table.

Before the pho could arrive, an order of the #9 com arrived.
Com Tam Bi Cha Suon Nuong consists of steamed broken rice topped with a grilled pork chop, shredded pork, and a baked egg.
I really need to get Vietnamese grilled pork more often. This combination of pork, green onions, sweetness, and a little char was sublime.
The shredded pork looked more like shredded tripe than pork but it had an odd texture, meaty yet dusty.
More like an egg topped pork terrine than any western notion of a baked egg, I couldn’t get enough of the neon yellow and moist, crumbly texture of this com topping.

As with most pho-centric restaurants, Pho 24 offers a wide selection of pho on their menu. From various combinations of beef cuts to shrimp to chicken and even a tofu pho, there’s plenty to choose from, but I went with my favorite litmus test, the Pho Dac Biet.
This version may have been missing the meatballs, but the eye round, flank, brisket, tendon, and tripe still offered plenty of substance.
Right away, I found something off about this broth. There wasn’t a heady beef flavor and each bite left me with greasy lips. There was a subtle taste of anise, but it was pushed aside by the prominence of the onion.
Instead of razor thin slices from a meat slicer, the beef in this bowl had a more hand cut thickness, but it was still tender and plentiful. This wasn’t a bad bowl of pho, it just really doesn’t compare to what Pho Dai Loi #2 has to offer. At the very least, it was ameliorated by the addition of Sriracha and fish sauce, but very few things are immune to that cure.

Oddly enough, this wasn’t my first time in Pho 24. A few nights earlier, after dinner at Sushi House Hayakawa, Aaron was in the mood for bubble tea. Since it was already 10:30, we knew there wouldn’t be very many choices but I knew Thien Thanh was open 24 hours. At least I thought it was; a locked door proved otherwise. Jennifer said Pho 24 had bubble tea. So it was a short ride down Buford Highway only to find they were out of tapioca pearls.
Two nights later, Pho 24 had bubble tea, but I made the mistake of trying a durian bubble tea. It did have a little sweetness but it was quickly drowned out by the wave of musty, almost fermented smells. I don’t know how people eat this stuff.
Thankfully the waiter at Pho 24 was very accommodating and he made me a second bubble tea. Despite my protests, he didn't charge me for the durian tea. This time it was strawberry and while the flavor was quite sweet & pleasant, the pearls were either undercooked or old, but chalky either way.

I realize this was only a small sampling of what Pho 24 had to offer, but I can already say with confidence that their pho is far outclassed on Buford Highway. At the risk of echoing Eat Buford Highway, I’m having a hard time finding a better pho than at Pho Dai Loi #2. However there is one thing Pho 24 has on their side and that is their hours. Pho Dai Loi closes at 9 while Pho 24 can satisfy your fish sauce laden urges 24 hours a day. There you go, Pho 24 may not be a first rate pho joint, but it is open late and that is sometimes all that matters.

Pho 24 Address & Information
4646 Buford Hwy NE Ste R, Atlanta, GA 30341 // 770.710.0178 // Pho 24 Website // Pho 24 Menu
Pho 24 on Urbanspoon

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