Quest for the Best: Lee’s Bakery pho the win

Back to Article
Back to Article

Quest for the Best: Lee’s Bakery pho the win

Emily Ng

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Inspired by the growing popularity of international street food, we decided to stray from  typical ethnic cuisines in our search to find the most authentic pho. Pho is a traditional Vietnamese dish served with beef broth, herbs, thin rice noodles and either chicken or beef. Our Quest for the Best: Road Trip Edition took us to Noodle: pan-Asian Noodle House, Saigon Café, and Lee’s Bakery.

IMG_4563

The first stop on our trip was Noodle (205 Ponce de Leon Ave.) The pan-Asian noodle house specializes in Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese and Thai dishes. Siblings Lili, Lina and Lenny Shou opened the first Noodle restaurant in 2005; since then, the franchise has expanded to include three locations around Atlanta –– Midtown and College Park.

The restaurant’s interior was upscale and intimate, tastefully decorated with modern decor. Once seated, we each ordered the only pho dish on the menu: the Vietnamese Noodle Soup ($9). We received two brimming bowls of chicken, rice noodles, onions and basil swimming in beef broth. Though the soup’s aroma was delightful, the pho tasted overwhelmingly of chives. The dish was also extremely salty — no amount of hot sauce could mask the unfortunate flavor. The pho also lost points for its lack of authenticity; it included wide noodles instead of thin rice noodles and thick chicken chunks instead of thin slices of meat. It was obvious Noodle caters more to the average American than diehard pho fans. Our server, Parker Hilly, recommended we try Saigon Cafe’s pho, so we left Noodle disappointed, with half of our pho dishes left uneaten.

IMG_4571

Saigon Cafe (2092 North Decatur Rd.) had a casual but pleasant atmosphere. Opened in 2002 by David Lee, Saigon Cafe originally focused on traditional Vietnamese dining. Over the years, the restaurant evolved into two different brands: Saigon Cafe and Saigon Basil, adding Thai and Chinese meals to their menus. We ordered two milk black boba teas ($4.45,) and a small Pho Dac Biet ($6.95) which was the perfect serving size for two. The pho included thin rice noodles, steak and Vietnamese meatballs. Although the dish did contain too much chewy beef, the broth was delightfully warm and light and perfectly salted. The pho complimented the delicious boba teas, making for an enjoyable afternoon snack. Our server, Andre Nguyen, recommended our last stop, Lee’s Bakery.    

IMG_4573

Lee’s Bakery (4005 Buford Hwy. NE) is a classic hole-in-the-wall eatery, complete with communal tables and vinyl chairs. Though it was the least aesthetically pleasing place we visited, we were excited to try pho at a restaurant specializing in Vietnamese cuisine. We ordered a combination of the Beef Pho and the Chicken Banh Mi ($6.50). The simple pho was the epitome of perfection. The perfectly seasoned broth was flavorful, the beef was tender and the noodles were delicate and thin, with a slight beefy flavor. The small serving of the Chicken Bahn Mi, a traditional Vietnamese sandwich, was also sublime. The Bahn Mi’s baguette was crispy on the outside but fluffy on the inside. Its light sauce complimented the sandwich’s many ingredients, which included pickled carrot, daikon, cilantro, cucumber and chicken.   

Our quest for the best pho began with the most Americanized soup and ended with the most authentic. Although Saigon Café left a lasting impression, Lee’s Bakery won us over with its authentic Vietnamese street food. The bakery surprised us with a delicious meal and proved diners shouldn’t base their judgements on appearances alone. Lee’s pho was filling, yet light and subtle. The best part of the meal was the bahn mi, which swirled with a variety of flavors. Our quest is complete; we highly recommend everyone make a trip to Lee’s Bakery.

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email