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Dua Vietnamese Noodle Soup: Beyond Buford Highway

Downtown newcomer dishes up tasty pho

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On any given weekday at lunchtime, the sidewalks of downtown's Broad Street are packed with hungry office workers, loft dwellers and university students. Dua Vietnamese Noodle Soup (53 Broad St., 404-589-8889), a tiny nondescript Vietnamese newcomer, holds promise for intowners in search of quality Asian cuisine at reasonable prices, minus the costly drive to Buford Highway.

The house pho (a Vietnamese noodle soup pronounced "fuh") comes in two sizes, regular ($5.75) and large ($6.50). Delicate beef meatballs, succulent slices of beef round and tender pieces of flank add heartiness to the light soup. An accompanying plate of fresh lime, mint and bean sprouts brightens the dish's composition. The near-greaseless broth has a solid depth of flavor – thanks to a mix of beef and chicken stock – and you can doctor it to your taste with some hoisin or chili sauce. Fried egg rolls ($3 for two), encased in a crunchy rice-paper shell, are filled with an earthy mixture of minced pork, shrimp and vegetables. You can add one egg roll and a fountain drink to your meal for $1.85. The bun thit nuong cha gio – a cold rice-vermicelli noodle salad with caramelized shallots, ground peanuts, shredded lettuce and fresh herbs – is topped with slices of salty barbecued pork, a chopped egg roll and a side of nuoc cham (a mixture of citrus juice, fish sauce, sugar, water and chili peppers), which adds a complementary sweetness and kick of spice on the finish.

Mylinh Cao and her mother, Tham Mai, who immigrated years ago from Quy Nhon, Vietnam, continue to tweak the menu based on customer feedback, but certain items – such as the pho and bun – are here to stay. The restaurant also plans to offer daily specials such as chicken stewed in coconut juice served with a hunk of French bread.

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