What A core Vietnamese dish with an inventive future and fascinating history, tracing back to street vendors in Hanoi and a touch of French colonialism influence.

Description “It’s beef noodle soup; it can’t be that complicated,” calmly jokes Andrea Nguyen, a well-known Pho expert and author of The Pho Cookbook. In the introduction of her cookbook she acknowledges the culture rubbing inherent of the dish’s flavors from the start and insists it’s a modern and continuously evolving dish: 

I want people to become part of the pho story. It started 100 years ago; now, in Los Angeles, there are pho cocktails and pho burritos. In Brooklyn, I’ve had pho soup dumplings and pho beef dip sandwiches. In Hanoi, I’ve seen fried pho, where the noodles were batter-coated and deep-fried….It’s not fixed, it’s a very modern dish that people can plug into at all levels and cook, whether or not they want to go to Asian markets.”

At the same time, the dish’s flavors transports her: “’I really wanted to evoke a sense of place’ in the book, Nguyen says. ‘Because for me part of what pho means is a sense of place, and it takes me personally to somewhere.”

Pho may take other dinners to a different place than herself but ash she open-mindedly concludes, “everyone weaves their own pho story.’”

Why If I lived on a desert island and could eat only one kind of food for the rest of my life, I’d say Vietnamese food. Hands down. Easy. In Austin, Elizabeth Street Cafe solidified my love for fresh broths, soft vermicelli noodles and oodles of crisp mint leaves, bean sprouts, bok choy, jalapenos and all the sauces…that crisp and chewy sweet heat is so refreshing. 

Now in Atlanta, I’ve decided it’s time to start exploring the best Pho in the city. I’m one restaurant in and I’m sure it’s not the best in the city, nor the most obscure. However, Pho Nam, in none other than the chaotic Krog Street Market is quite delicious. I ordered the vegetarian Pho and it was shockingly delightful. 

Next up on my Pho short List: 

Buford Highway  

Pho Dai Loi 2

“There are plenty of places to slurp pho throughout Atlanta, but Pho Dai Loi 2 is consistently one of the best restaurants for the noodle soup.” – Eater Atlanta 

Nam Phuong 

“Follow the lead of the buzzy, multigenerational crowd chowing down on rice cakes, Vietnamese egg crepes with tofu, lotus root salad with shrimp, and the signature ba vi (grilled meatballs, ground shrimp molded around sugarcane, and tender beef rolled in la lot leaves, with rice paper, vermicelli, and dipping sauces to create your own wraps).” – Atlanta Magazine 

Decatur 

Vietvan

“The restaurant features murals of Vietnam throughout the dining room, a large test kitchen, and an outdoor patio. Tran and Dang say they have spent months working to perfect their pho noodle and banh mi bread recipes as well as courting local farmers for ingredients to use in the dishes for Vietvana.” – Eater Atlanta

East Village  

We Suki Suki

“The tiny kitchen churns out comforting bowls of lemongrass-infused pho and super satisfying bánh mì. Try the lemongrass chicken or the dac biet.” – Eater Atlanta 

So Ba 

“Nhan Le, the California-raised owner of this new Vietnamese joint on one of East Atlanta Village’s side streets, is well aware of the need for a more diverse ethnic scene in the core of the city. So Ba sells atmosphere along with food; the mood lighting is especially successful. Pho, the house specialty, consists of slightly too-sweet beef broth, rice noodles, and thinly sliced steak garnished with lime, bean sprouts, basil, and jalapeño slices.”  – Atlanta Magazine 

Vinings 

Pho Dakao

“Pho is obviously the star of the show here, but do try the restaurant’s bánh mì. Pair it with a milk tea or Vietnamese iced coffee.” – Eater Atlanta 

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