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Pho, But Not At It's Finest: Pho Dai Loi #2- Buford

Pho Dai Loi #2 is one of many Vietnamese Pho restaurants off Buford Highway.  For those of you from Atlanta or have been here for several years, you know that in order to get great, authentic Asian food, Buford Highway is the place to go to.  And it’s very inexpensive! You could feed a family of 4 for less than $30 and everyone is going home full.

I grew up eating all sorts of Southeast Asian cuisines, from Laotian food, Vietnamese food, and Thai food. It’s a different type of spiciness when it comes to Asian cuisine.  The spice is more heat and flavor and it comes from fresh peppers and other green veggies.  The dishes are also full of flavor, creative, and filling on a smaller amount of food.

Pho is a classic Vietnamese soup that contains rice noodles, various slices of beef, tripe (cow’s stomach), tendon, meatballs, and whatever else the can be thought of to put in the soup.  But the key ingredient that differentiates the pho is the broth.  Typically it is the beef broth from the slices of meat in the soup.  It is full of flavors and oils from the meat giving it a very distinct taste. In my pho, I like to put all of the vegetables that are provided, such as bean sprouts, cilantro, mint, and lime juice.  The extra veggies add extra crunch and freshness to the dish.

So naturally, I could not do a proper review on this place without giving you a bit of cultural history on pho.  Pho Dai Loi seemed like just any other pho restaurant to me.  Laminated menus, outdated decor, very basic necessities in the restaurant.  It is family owned, like most places are and the entire staff is Vietnamese and transplanted to America.

I order my typical ‘small’ bowl of pho with every part of the cow they can throw in the bowl. Don’t be fooled by the word ‘small’ because the bowl is a nice hefty size that I easily am full off of.  The pho comes out fairly quickly, about 5-10 minutes after we ordered.  The service is speedy, which is great, but don’t expect them to be overly friendly.  I’ve noticed in Asian restaurants that have staff that are from the origin country, they want customers in and out as quick as possible.  It’s about the volume of people, not necessarily the relationships.  I suppose they figure the food speaks for itself.  You either like it, or you don’t, and you either return to eat there again, or you don’t. Pretty simple.  There is no small talking, asking how your food came out, etc.  That would require too much extra work and there are too many other customers to worry about.  

There was a couple at a table near ours that complained they received the wrong dish.  The female made a big deal out of it to the waiter and the waiter refused to give her a refund for that dish since they already made it.  He didn’t own up to the mistake and was willing to make another dish for them but still charge for both the mistake order and the right one.  I guess they don’t employ the motto of ‘the customer is always right!’

It was interesting to see that situation unfold.  Luckily, our table had simple orders of their spring rolls and pho.  The pho was okay.  Not the best I had and they seemed to have skimped a bit on the meat but their prices were higher than the places I had been to before.  The menu items were not as plentiful and they primarily served the noodle dishes and soups, no Vietnamese sandwiches or many rice dishes.

Pho Dai Loi #2 is not my go to pho restaurant, but is still decent.  But beware, if your order is wrong, get ready to put up a fight!

Speedy service, mediocre food, non-compromising staff, cleanliness was below average…

2 diamonds out of 7 diamonds

Science Fact:

Health Benefits of Bone Broth


Bone broth is a flavorful liquid made by boiling the bones of just about any vertebrate you can think of (typically poultry, beef, bison, lamb, or fish) in water for an extended period of time (typically anywhere from 4 hours to 40 hours!).  Often vegetables and herbs are added (typically carrots, onion, celery, garlic and I like to add bay leaves too).  The bones from mammals need to be sawed open, whereas fowl and fish bones don’t. The used bones and vegetables are strained from the liquid and typically discarded.  The resulting liquid is called “broth” or “stock” and is rich in numerous vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants (especially calcium, magnesium and phosphorous, which are essential for bone health) .  Most importantly, bone broth is also particularly rich in two very special amino acids:  proline and glycine.

Glycine and proline are two key components of connective tissue, the biological “glue” that holds our bodies together.  There are many types of connective tissue and these two amino acids feature prominently in most of them, from the cartilage that forms our joints to the extracellular matrix that acts as a scaffold for the cells in our individual organs, muscles, arteries etc.  Without these two amino acids, we would literally fall apart.  So, it is no surprise that we need these two amino acids to heal, not only gaping wounds, but also the microscopic damage done to blood vessels and other tissues in our body caused by inflammation and infection. In fact, glycine is known to inhibit the immune system and reduce activation of inflammatory cells in your body.  Whether you are trying to heal from an infection, address an autoimmune disease, or reduce inflammation caused by neolithic foods or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, high levels of dietary glycine are critical.

In addition, glycine is required for synthesis of DNA, RNA and many proteins in the body.  As such, it plays extensive roles in digestive health, proper functioning of the nervous system and in wound healing.  Glycine aids digestion by helping to regulate the synthesis and of bile salts and secretion of gastric acid.  It is involved in detoxification and is required for production of glutathione, an important antioxidant.  Glycine helps regulate blood sugar levels by controlling gluconeogenesis (the manufacture of glucose from proteins in the liver).  Glycine also enhances muscle repair/growth by increasing levels of creatine and regulating Human Growth Hormone secretion from the pituitary gland.  This wonderful amino acid is also critical for healthy functioning of the central nervous system.  In the brain, it inhibits excitatory neurotransmitters, thus producing a calming effect.  Glycine is also converted into the neurotransmitter serine, which promotes mental alertness, improves memory, boosts mood, and reduces stress.

Proline has an additional role in reversing atherosclerotic deposits.  It enables the blood vessel walls to release cholesterol buildups into your bloodstream, decreasing the size of potential blockages in your heart and the surrounding blood vessels.  Proline also helps your body break down proteins for use in creating new, healthy muscle cells.

Now, let’s be clear:  proline and glycine are not technically essential amino acids.  Your body can actually make them if it needs more than is supplied by your diet.  But building our own amino acids is much less efficient than consuming them from foods, and scientists believe that we probably can’t make proline or glycine efficiently enough to keep up with our body’s demand in the absence of dietary sources.  And while meat of all kinds does supply both of these amino acids, you just can’t beat the quantity or absorbability of proline and glycine in bone broth, hence bone broth’s superfood status.




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