I’d started to think things were getting a little boring with the Vietnamese restaurant scene around here. The old favorites were still there – Quan Ba 9, Yany Express, Phở Dai Loi, Phở #1, but I was craving something new… The problem with that is that with Viet cuisine, “new” often translates to “more of the same”.
My first impression on walking in to Thiên Thanh (blue sky), was “more of the same”. Phở, phở and more phở. Then I found myself knee deep in the hủ tiếu section of the menu and I knew this place had the potential to get on that list of favorites. I’m not going to even try to give an accurate definition of what hủ tiếu is. The term is used for multiple things in Vietnamese cuisine (dry noodles, soup noodles and just the noodles themselves).
What caught my attention was the variety of proteins:
Hủ Tiếu Đặc Biệt: Noodle soup with shrimp, squid, pork meat, pork heart, pork liver & quail eggs.
Bún Riêu: Spicy vermicelli noodle soup with pork blood, pork foot and crab meat.
Chao Long: Rice soup with pork blood, heart and liver.
Bún Bò Huế: Two ways – “Vietnamese style” and “International style” (with blood & feet or without).
And on and on…
Now understand – I’m not a huge fan of offal. I’ve tried quite a bit, but I’m big enough to admit that it’s just not my thing. But I do know that guts and gore require a bit of skill to cook well, so when I see them on a menu I take it as a good indicator that the rest of the menu may bode well.
So I went for the bún mọc – vermicelli noodle soup with pork sausage loaf, pork paste balls and pork spare ribs. The pork broth was a welcome change from phở and not gamey, as I expected. On the side was bean sprouts, lime, Vietnamese mint and shredded pork skin. Lots of porky goodness. A. went for the phở gà (chicken noodle soup) and I’m assuming it was good, as she killed everything in the bowl…
We also tried the bánh mì thịt nướng (grilled pork sandwich). I’m definitely going back for verification, but this may be my favorite bánh mì yet. I’ll have to grab one from here and one from Quốc Hương soon to do an A/B test… I’ll get back to you on that one.
Of note, the menu also has a pretty extensive section of “Mon Nhau”, or “Drink-Friendly Food” and Lẩu (Vietnamese hot pot):
Xoài xanh: Green mango salad.
Chim cút rô ti: Soy sauce quail.
Cánh gà chiên nước mắm: Chicken wings.
Ruột Heo Xào Cải Chua: Pickled vegetable with sausage.
5219 Buford Hwy NE
Doraville, GA 30340
*** Added bonus – Open 24/7! ***