Noodles have become a recent obsession of mine. Maybe it was because of David Chang in Mind of a Chef, or because I was exposed to the perfectly made bowl of ramen at the now defunct Gato Arigato (and no, we are not talking about the ramen you lived on in college). But, over the past year or so, I’ve always been searching for my next noodle fix. Since my cravings started, I’ve been finding myself on Buford Highway in different international restaurants ordering different bowls of noodles.
After a brief interview on 11Alive’s Atlanta & Company promoting all of the exciting holiday events going on in DeKalb County, Barry Stepe and I found ourselves needing to find lunch and our appetites lead us to Buford Highway. Getting to the International Corridor itself isn’t hard, but trying to pick one restaurant out of the dozens and dozens of options is always tricky.
I’ve had pho several times in the past. And there is definitely a difference between a delicious bowl of pho and a boring bowl of tasteless broth with stiff noodles. I’ve bounced around to several pho restaurants in the Atlanta area over the past couple of years finding some of each. If you are not familiar with pho, it is a Vietnamese soup consisting of broth, rice noodles, herbs and a choice of meat.
I Luv Pho has a few locations in and around the Atlanta area, one of those being on Buford Highway. Barry and I have had people separately recommend I Luv Pho, so we decided this would be our noodle destination. The ambiance is similar to a lot of noodle restaurants. Big open spaces, no flashy decorations, and a table full of homemade sauces waiting to doctor up your hot bowl of soup.
The menu was fairly extensive. Offering several other dishes besides pho including rice dishes, beef stews and a couple of Vietnamese sandwiches. But that wasn’t the reason I was there. I wanted noodles. After glancing through the different pho options, I decided on Phở Tái Gầu (filet mignon and crunchy fat). Barry, not sharing the same enthusiasm for all things noodles, decided on a delicious seafood and rice dish.
After receiving a side dish of bean sprouts, jalapeños, cilantro and lime, a large bowl of steaming soup arrived. After adding my dish of toppings to the pho, I grabbed my chopsticks and dug in.
Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve had pho at many different places in and around Metro Atlanta, but this particular bowl stood out. It didn’t need any hot sauce. No soy sauce. The broth stuck to the noodles perfectly and had enough flavor to stand on its own.
Barry’s dish came full of marinated shrimp and vegetables next to a mound of sticky rice. While I didn’t try his dish, there was very little discussion after our plates were put in front of us, so it must have been just as good as mine.
The International Corridor on Buford Highway is full of noodle shops and unique cuisine from all over the world. While exploring, you may not be able to read many of the signs (or the menus), but you are almost guaranteed to find good food. And you will absolutely find good food at I Luv Pho.