So Ba

Nhan Le, the California-raised owner of this new Vietnamese joint on one of East Atlanta Village’s side streets, is well aware of the need for a more diverse ethnic scene in the core of the city. As with Wasabi, Le’s Japanese lounge and sushi bar in Castleberry Hill, So Ba sells atmosphere along with food; the mood lighting is especially successful.

Pho, the house specialty, consists of slightly too-sweet beef broth, rice noodles, and thinly sliced steak garnished with lime, bean sprouts, basil, and jalapeño slices. It’s authentic enough by Buford Highway standards. If many of the other offerings (spring rolls, egg rolls, rice dishes, and grilled meats) suffer from fairly indifferent preparation, they still find plenty of local takers, especially since the restaurant stays open late to capture the neighborhood bar scene.