I have a coworker with a Vietnamese wife, and one day I asked him where he went to eat Vietnamese food. And his reply was he ate at “What the Pho?“, because they had the best crispy noodle dish in town. I had seen “What the Pho?” while driving up and down Pleasant Hill, thought the name was funny, but there are a flood of pho places in town. Further, there is a man who works in Saigon Cafe (Duluth) who knows my wife on sight (from many visits to Manchuria Gardens, when he worked there); consequently, we tend to get nice treatment in Saigon Cafe. There wasn’t much reason to go to a new pho place, but to check out this crispy noodle dish and find out what it was all about.

The restaurant is on Pleasant Hill Road, in a strip mall on the north side of the street (to your right while driving west from the I-85 intersection). It’s easy to decide that you’ve driven too far and turn around too early. The only way I’ve found to prevent this is to continue to remind myself it’s a block before the Super H-Mart complex in the area. So it’s simple: drive till you find it. If you pass the Super H-Mart, turn around.

The place itself is smallish and neat. The waiters are young, dressed well, in trendy haircuts, polite and mannered. The menu is extensive, more so than I can adequately describe here. When my wife asked a lot of questions of the food, they answered her patiently. The pho is served fast and the pho is good. Serving size is more than adequate, even in the “medium” bowl.

But when the crispy noodles came out — It’s a heap of meat, seafood, vegetables, and a dark broth poured over a cylindrical stack of noodles 2.5 to 3 inches tall, and almost as round as the plate. Visually it’s quite an experience. And for the first time in my life, people in the tables adjacent to me were openly talking about the dish I was eating. Yes, I found that a little disconcerting, but not so disconcerting that I was going to stop eating.

The dish was quite good. I would let the noodles soak up some liquid, so they would be easier to manage, and then eat. It was a slower meal to eat than pho. My family was watching after a bit. I shared some with my daughter and wife; they liked what they tried as well.

Summary? The dish is good enough that after the first time, I came back to have it again. Is it good enough to drive across town to eat? I can’t answer that for anyone else. For me, the only thing I drive long distances for are really good barbecue, or a really good Japanese restaurant. But yes, if you’re in the region and have an urge to try their crispy noodles, I’d recommend you do.

Some more general “What the Pho?” reviews: Access Atlanta here and Creative Loafing here. Chow Down Atlanta has a review of What the Pho? that has a nice picture of the crispy noodle dish.

What the Pho on Urbanspoon