Atlanta

What’s more comforting than a nice bowl of hot soup, particularly, when you’re feeling under the weather? There’s no denying the stroke of genius behind Campbell Soup’s family-centered “M’m! M’m! Good” brand slogan. We can all relate to the feeling of nostalgia, seeming to be transported home between warm sips, regardless of your region of origin.

It seems to be the Golden Age of Asian soups in Atlanta, a trend I’m personally elated to see. Nothing seems to satisfy my appetite more than a mastered ramen or the simple comfort of pho (pronounced “fuh”). While it’s difficult for many to agree on which is better, you can only go wrong by not experiencing both.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

Pho is Vietnam’s national dish, traditionally prepared with broth, long white rice noodles and meat. All items are chosen to complement not outshine the other; in pho, balance is key. The broth is rich, yet light, and is simplistic in creation. A variety of sides accompany the dish, allowing you to prepare it exactly to your tastes.

Ramen is a Japanese dish made with wheat-based Chinese style noodles. In ramen, it’s all about the broth. Your dish is complete when it presented to you and accompaniments shouldn’t be needed (unless you’re looking for a spice kick). Due to the variety of combinations available, you will typically see more variety in ramen dishes.

WHERE TO TRY PHO?

If you’re in search of authentic cuisines of any kind, look no further than Buford Highway. Lucky for you, their selection of Vietnamese restaurants is pho-nomenal (obligatory pho pun!). Located in the Little Saigon shopping plaza, Pho Dai Loi 2 is a must. They have four locations around town, but this one is my personal fave. Other staples like Lee’s Bakery or Nam Phuong can be found in the neighborhood as well.

Known for live music and a selection of dive-bars, East Atlanta Village has a surprising selection to choose from. Shop the few ethnic food stalls in the We Suki Suki business front or walk down the street to SoBa for classic Vietnamese in a lively atmosphere.

WHERE TO TRY RAMEN?

While I’m a huge lover of pho, ramen is my personal favorite. This has less to do with the cheap-eat classic that I pretty much lived on in my 20s, but rather the preparation that goes into the simple, yet complex broths. I absolutely relish the varieties available.

Grab some ramen at Guy Wong’s Ton-Ton before an afternoon of shopping at the popular Ponce City Market. The Dan Dan ramen is one of my favorite dishes in Atlanta, so be sure someone at your table has some for you to sample. Enjoy six different kinds of ramen at the intimate Japanese restaurant Wagaya or sip Korean style ramen at Piju Belly in West Midtown.

 

A wise man once asked if it’s better to love or to be loved? While it is without a doubt a difficult choice, I think we can all agree having both is best. So it is with these two dishes. You, too, can always have both.

Karen