An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

The new Murphy Crossing MARTA Station located in southwest Atlanta will be developed jointly by real estate development company Culdesac, Inc. in partnership with Urban Oasis Development.
New MARTA Stations announced, establish rail and BeltLine connection
Shalin BhatiaMay 27, 2024

In his State of the City address, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens announced a new MARTA rail station in southwest Atlanta adjacent to the Atlanta...

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


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.


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.


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.    


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.


Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

The Southerner intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. Furthermore, we do not permit any of the following inappropriate content including: Libel or defamatory statements, any copyrighted, trademarked or intellectual property of others, the use of profanity and foul language or personal attacks. All comments are reviewed and approved by staff to ensure that they meet these standards. The Southerner does not allow anonymous comments, and requires a name and valid email address submitted that are variable. This email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments. Online comments that are found in violation of these policies will be removed as quickly as possible.
All the Southerner Online Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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