Monday, February 2, 2009

Eating Around Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech is an island of geeks in a sea of bureaucrats.  Back in 1885, the Georgia School of Technology was founded on a horse farm on the outskirts of Atlanta. Today, Coca-Cola borders the south side of campus, Turner Broadcasting guards the north border, and the former Bell South headquarters sits a few blocks to the east.  As a result, many of the lunch choices near campus are designed to support business lunches, not hungry students.

Furthermore, Atlanta's restaurant entrepreneurs seem to have not been appraised of the Iron Law of Computer Science: All programmers love Chinese food.  Go to Cambridge MA to see what I mean: MIT is guarded by Chinese restaurants like Fort Knox is guarded by pillboxes while Harvard has only a few token examples of the species.  Given the thousands of hungry students who need dan-dan noodles and kung pao chicken to keep their fingers flying over the keyboard, I'm shocked that more Chinese restaurants haven't sprung up to serve their needs.

When I am in the mood for Chinese food, usually about once a week, I go to Chow Baby, about a mile off campus. Today I took my colleagues Sudha Yalamanchili and Milos Prvulovic. I refer to it as tragically hip Mongolian barbeque, which sounds belittling, but I like the food. I generally classify Mongolian BBQ restaurants as grad student fare---low-grade food for people with little money and no standards.  But Chow Baby uses high-quality ingredients in great variety. As I grow older, I particularly appreciate their vegetables; those of us in the AARP-enabled set need to eat our roughage.  The sauces are in great variety and quite good, not to mention in a wide variety of caloric contents.  The lines can be long, but waiting is part of the fun.  Although they don't emphasize this too much, you can in fact go back as many times as you want.  If I had moved to Atlanta 25 years ago, they would have been sorry to see me darken their door, but today I only occasionally load up on a few extra vegetables.

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