Be's Noodles & Banh Mi Pho

Global Tastes

Eat your way around the world at four area restaurants

By Rachel Mitchell | Photos by Richard Rudisill

The Queen City is known for its patchwork of cultures woven together, creating a tapestry of rich histories. While there are myriad ethnic flavors and foods available in the Ballantyne area, four restaurants stand out for their authentic cuisine and memorable experiences.

Russian Comfort Food

Borscht with a side of pieroshkies
Borscht with a side of pieroshkies

Babushka’s Pierogi

Guests are greeted warmly as they step through the door at Babushka’s Pierogi in Tower Place Festival shopping center on Highway 51. This three-generation, family-owned restaurant offers savory comfort food made from scratch. Must-try dishes are its namesake pierogi featuring fresh dough stuffed with combinations of cheese, potatoes, mushrooms and onions.

For newcomers to Russian cuisine, co-owner Yuliya Feland recommends starting with a warm bowl of borscht, a traditional beet soup filled with other garden veggies, and a side of pieroshkies, soft rolls that complement the dish.

The restaurant’s warm interior of wood and hand-painted artwork creates a comfortable dining space. Babushka, which means “grandmother” in Russian, celebrates the collection of passed-down recipes that makes up the menu. Feland’s family combined dishes from Russia, Hungary and Poland, similar to the blending typically seen in home cooking in that region.

Her family had a catering business in Russia, and she sees Babushka’s Pierogi as an extension of her own family’s kitchen. She wants people to feel like they’re at home, where they can relax and enjoy a hearty, nutritious meal. When she sees people truly satisfied, she can’t help thinking, “That’s why I’m in this business.”

Fresh Vietnamese Flavors

Bun, a rice vermicelli dish is serviced with pork, shirmp and egg rolls. Banh mi sandwiches contain grilled meat, vegetables and cilantro.

Be’s Noodles & Banh Mi

Located in Ballantyne Corners, Be’s Noodles & Banh Mi serves Vietnamese dishes made in-house using fresh and whole foods. Owner Be Phan personally travels to local farmers markets to ensure the highest quality of ingredients. For guests new to Vietnamese cuisine, Phan recommends pho, a traditional rice noodle soup with a rich broth, marinated meat and fresh vegetables. Another option is a banh mi, a tasty sandwich that features grilled meat with cucumber, cilantro, jalapenos and carrots.

Vietnamese cuisine revolves around a delicate balance of sour, bitter, sweet, spicy and salty. Flavors such as lemongrass, basil, mint and chili peppers are common, as each meal has a distinct combination of fragrance, taste and color.

Phan’s love of cooking began when she was 16 and her mom, a professional chef in Vietnam, taught her how to work with food. Be’s Noodles & Banh Mi opened as a labor of love, and Phan is often in the kitchen for hours a day. Her warm disposition and hospitality show she enjoys making others happy through her meals.

Home-cooked German Cuisine

The gebackener ziegenkäse appetizer features goat cheese, spinach and sundried tomatoes wrapped in phyllo dough.
The gebackener ziegenkäse appetizer features goat cheese, spinach and sundried tomatoes wrapped in phyllo dough.

Waldhorn Restaurant

Entering the Waldhorn Restaurant on Lancaster Highway in Pineville is like stepping into Germany. Guests immediately feel at home in this authentic space, which husband and wife team Thomas and Gitta Maier opened in 1999.

The menu is filled with true German cuisine. One of the specialties is wienerschnitzel vom kalb, which consists of breaded veal cutlets bursting with flavor. The restaurant boasts 12 imported German beers on tap that are served in traditional glassware. Addition-ally, all desserts are made from scratch by the in-house baker. To top it off, the homemade pretzel rolls are so delicious they’re worth a trip on their own.

The Maiers, both trained chefs, met while working together in a four-star restaurant in Germany. Gitta’s parents owned the Waldhorn Restaurant back home, and the couple decided to name their restaurant in honor of her parents’ place. “Germans have a saying, ‘gemüt-lichkeit,’ which stands for comfort and relaxation,” Gitta explained, “and that’s what we want our guests to experience.”

Spicing Up the Palate

Persis Biryani Indian Grill

Diners should prepare their taste buds for an adventurous experience when they visit Persis Biryani Indian Grill in Ballantyne Quad. Part of a national chain with individual owner-operators, the restaurant has two other Charlotte locations and serves memorable cuisine from both northern and southern India.

Known for spices and extensive cooking processes, Indian food is distinctive. Mainstay ingredients include rice, lentils, chickpeas and lamb.

The namesake of the restaurant, biryani dishes, can be served with a variety of meats or vegetables and are complicated to prepare. Owner Sandeep Madhukuri explains that the meat marinates in a mixture of spices and yogurt for several hours, then is slowly cooked with rice. This ensures the aroma and flavors infuse each bite.

For those new to Indian cuisine, Madhukuri recommends tikka masala, which is often served with chicken. Baked in a clay oven, the dish features a slightly sweet orange curry in a tomato-based sauce. Pairing it with naan, a light and flavorful Indian bread, is the perfect combination.

Madhukuri developed a passion for food service after volunteering in the kitchen at his college in India. He learned how the cooking process worked on a large scale and now enjoys bringing a taste of Indian cuisine to the area.

The tandoori chicken at Persis is a tasty selection.
The tandoori chicken at Persis is a tasty selection.