Phở Chín, Nạm, Vè Dòn in America – 117 of 365

Phở Chín, Nạm, Vè Dòn

I dragged a friend to Pho Viet at 4300 Buford Highway in Atlanta, and her first thoughts were wow, this place is full on Vietnamese with the spartan interior and tv playing Vietnamese DVDs.  What little it takes to cause an American to perceive things as truly Asian is interesting indeed.   Perhaps it’s because we are weaned on a diet of chain restaurants whose carefully constructed “authentic” interiors are gleaned from some middle America focus group followed by many subsequent hours in the interior design lab.

It’s ironic really.   Sit down inside a TGI Friday’s with its overflowing walls of fake memorabilia and kitsch and we don’t give the contrived tackiness a second though.  Drop someone into a place with plain white walls, basic tables and chairs, and no décor and suddenly it becomes eye popping sensory overload.

The seriously nice owner commented I ordered the meal quite well in Vietnamese, and she seemed shocked I live over there.   She had left in the mid 1980’s but hoped to one day return to live.   This seems to be a common theme amongst the Vietnamese-Americans I chat up along Buford Highway.  They are in for a truly shocking experience when they venture back to present day Saigon.  I’ve only been gone a week and already look forward to my return so I can imagine how they must feel after a decades long absence.

Pho Viet

For no other reason than I liked how the words sounded, I ordered a bowl of chín, nạm, vè dòn (steak, flank, crunchy flank) phở.  What is crunchy flank anyhow?  Nothing in the bowl was crunchy except the bean sprout garnish.   Round vermicelli noodles replaced the customary broad, flat phở noodles, and what would a bowl of American pho be without Mexican jalapeño peppers?   This is accidental fusion cuisine for sure.

Ou host politely asked if a fork would be necessary in order for us to properly eat our noodles and liquid.   I can honestly say this is the first time I have ever been offered a fork for soup.  We politely declined this invitation to fully westernize our utensil experience and stuck with the evidently inappropriate for us chopsticks and spoons.  The owner was amazed two western folks could carefully manipulate food into their mouths using two pieces of wood perched between their fingers rather than the tines of a fork.

All in all this was an average bowl of phở served in an above average setting getting to know a Vietnamese immigrant who has achieved the American dream.

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Categories: Vietnamese Food

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