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Showing posts from October, 2009

Chamblee: Canton House

I have a sentimental connection to Canton House. It's how I discovered Chamblee. Shortly after moving here, I drove around just to explore. When I stumbled across a big Chinese restaurant that served dim sum seven days a week, I thought I was in heaven. I've eaten there innumerable times since then. One of my favorite dishes is the chicken hot pot. The hot pot, I believe, comes from the Hakka region. As a stew, it's a great variation on traditional Chinese themes. Their steamed fish is also very good. Today, I had the roast pork Cantonese noodle soup and some dim sum. The soup definitely hit the spot, although I don't think it was quite up to Ollie's in New York.

Desta Takeout

I just figured out that Desta, the Ethiopian restaurant I reviewed over the summer, has a drive-in window! I noticed it when I went to the post office---it's tucked in the back of their building. Desta, by the way, is at the corner of Shallowford and Clairmont, near I-85. This isn't Dariy Queen---you're supposed to call in your order and pick it up. But it's very easy to call before you get on the highway and pick it up when you arrive. I ordered a vegetarian medley for lunch. As you can see, it had five different dishes; I didn't show the Ethiopian bread here. The food was very good. I only wish that I had eaten it right-to-left rather than left-to-right; I would have enjoyed the textures more that way, but live and learn.

New York: Ollie's Noodle House

My Columbia University friends took me to Ollie's Noodle House today, in this case the location across the street from campus. Ollie's was one of the leaders in the NYC noodle revolution that took place 10-15 years ago, when noodles moved out of Chinatown and across Manhattan. Since I'm in search of good noodle soup in Atlanta, I thought this would be an excellent comparison. I've always been an Ollie's fan and they didn't disappoint today. I had pork won ton soup: won tons, slices of pork, and thin noodles. The won tons were tasty little birthday packages and the pork was very tender. The broth was very flavorful. It really hit the spot on a rainy day. Where is a good place for Chinese noodle soup in Atlanta? There are lots of choices for Vietnamese noodles, but I really don't know where to go for Chinese noodle soup...

New York: Sushi Yasuda

Meetings can be long and a refreshing dinner really hits the spot. My friend Bob Walker was interested in sushi. Since we were in midtown Manhattan, we had a lot of choices. He checked out Sushi Yasuda, which had an excellent reputation. I had a selection of sushi and a roll: salmon, tuna, roe, etc. The fish was extremely fresh; the roe still tasted of the sea. Even the rice was noticeably good. Yasuda is big for a sushi place, small for a New York restaurant. Five sushi chefs labored at the sushi bar to prepare the food, but the atmosphere was completely uncrushed.

Chamblee: ZenTea

ZenTea is one of my regular spots in Chamblee. It's a tea house that has become a second home for the neighborhood. It has a very tasteful and elegant decor; it also holds a number of activities ranging from music to meditation. You can select from a very wide variety of teas from around the world, served in your own pot. You can also get chocolates and pastries from the nearby Maison Robert, but tea is definitely the star of the show here. If you want to take a favorite tea home, you can take a tin with you or order from their Web site (

Decatur: Pastries A Go Go

I was in Decatur and decided that I deserved a treat, so I headed for Pastries A Go Go. It's in the small strip mall in downtown Decatur. I made it in just as they were closing, but they were very nice to let me get my dessert fix. I went for the chocolate buttercream cake. (Are there two words in the English language that deserve to be next to each other more than "butter" and "cream"?) I took it home for later. The buttercream frosting was truly excellent. There was a lot of it but the sweetness wasn't overwhelming. Notice that it was nicely decorated, as well. The cake underneath was excellent. Despite the name, they also have a full lunch menu. I've eaten lunch there once or twice and was very impressed. I think I had soup and salad, although it's been awhile. Of course, the dessert at the end doesn't hurt, either...

Il Forno

On a recent trip to Roswell, I stumbled on Il Forno. It's on Roswell Road just south of I-285. I don't think they have a wood-fired oven, but I really enjoyed their pizza, which was prepared in a very classic style. I had the Margherita, which is tomato sauce, cheese, basil, and garlic. The first thing that struck me was the crust, which had a wonderful bready taste. It's all too easy to get the cardboard effect in pizza places, but this classified as really good bread. The sauce and cheese were excellent. I found the basil and garlic notes to be just right---very noticeable and pleasant, not too much. I ate the whole pizza, which may not have been so great for my diet but was certainly a treat.

Miami Beach: China Grill

My friends took me to China Grill in Miami Beach, an outpost of the New York restaurant that was frequented by New York power brokers. We decided to have the tasting menu, which turned out to be more of a gorging menu. We were stuffed by the time we left. But that is not to imply that the food suffered. We tried too many dishes for me to remember, but several stuck with me. Their salad sampler had three different salads on one plate. They managed to infuse these salads with an amazing variety of tastes, including spicy, and the calamari garnish on one of them was excellent. I'm always a sucker for the crispy fried spinach. The beef was extremely tender. And the dessert, a sort of vertical banana cream pie, was exciting to watch and a great cap-off to the meal. My only complaint is that the chopsticks are really for show---a lot of the food, including the nonsticky rice, can't be eaten with chopsticks.

La Parrilla

La Parilla is on Howell Mill Road at I-75. The atmosphere is very different from Cantina Nuevo Laredo---this is much more of a sports bar vibe. There are plenty of monitors around showing ESPN. They have a large bar area as well as a semi-outdoor seating area. I've eaten there twice now: a combination plate on the first visit and chicken fajitas on the second. Both visits were competent. This isn't the place you go if you crave a highly authentic Mexican experience, but it is certainly a fun place with good food.

Brookhaven Bistro

I stopped into Brookhaven Bistro for lunch today. It's on Peachtree between the Brookhaven MARTA station and Oglethorpe University. As you can see from the sign, its part of a health food emporium that features a wide variety of organic foods. The menu has a variety of items, including fish. I tried the rice and beans plate, which I believe was vegetarian. It was very well spiced---hot but not burning, A variety of vegetables garnished the rice and beans to give it a variety of textures and tastes. This dish was exactly what I was in the mood for. Next time, I'll try the fish...

5 Seasons Restaurant and Brewry

I was on the West Side the other day in the need of lunch and realized that I hadn't tried 5 Seasons. This is a brew pub and I'm not the ideal person to review that aspect of it. But it has a very upscale menu of food. The decor is sophisticated but also conducive to beer drinking. My salad was what I needed that day, but I wanted a little enjoyment on it. The bleu cheese was the real thing, unlike what you get in many places. The pecans were a welcome surprise. I also had a soup that was very well executed.

Athens GA: Harry Bissett's

Dinner on my Athens trip was Harry Bissett's. It's on the man drag and specializes in New Orleans cuisine. I had the shrimp creole for my main course. The seafood was a welcome change. It was spicy but not overly hot. When I heard the words "pecan pie" I knew that I had to have dessert. The crust was excellent and it was served with a healthy dose of real whipped cream. My friend's bread pudding was extremely comforting.

Athens GA: The Grill

On a recent visit to Athens, my friend took me to The Grill. It's right across the street from the University of Georgia campus. The theme is '50s and well-earned. This place has been in town for a long time. A good milkshake is relatively hard to find and The Grill knows how to make a good shake. It was very creamy. The chocolate note was appropriate, not overwhelming. They are also famous for their burgers. The burger very meaty and tender and it comes with all the appropriate appointments. The fries are very thick and quite good.


I was in the mood for a break and a snack, so I made it over to Shoya. It's near the intersection of Peachtree Industrial Road and I-285. It's a little hard to find, but keep trying. It is in a small mall that is off the main road, behind a car dealer. This is a Japanese-style bar. If it were a real Japanese bar, you wouldn't have enough elbow room to strech your arms, but other than that it is a pretty authentic experience. I tried three pieces of sushi: yellow tail, salmon, and tuna. As you can tell, it was good---I almost forgot to take the picture. The fish was very fresh. I sat at the sushi bar and the chef prepared it for me in the usual way. I was hungry enough that I ate the remaining ginger raw. It was very sweet, the best ginger I've had in awhile.

Rosa Mexicana

My Georgia Tech colleagues and I were interested in a nice lunch and we chose Rosa Mexicana. It's an upscale Mexican restaurant in Atlantic Station. I've been there several times before. They are in the middle of a chocolate festival so I had to try the chicken mole enchiladas. The sauce was very delicate and subtle. A nice touch was the grated cabbage on top, which gave a nice crunch (and a cole slaw-y Southern touch as well).

Lincoln NE: Wilderness Ridge

On my recent visit to Lincoln, my former student Senem Velipasalar and her family took me to Wilderness Ridge for a steak. It's actually the club house of a golf course done in a log cabin style. The place is huge. I started with a nice tomato soup. Rather than a cream base it used parmesan cheese. My steak was excellent, including the proper amount of char. (Don't worry, it was medium, not burnt.) I've had some steaks lately that were very tender but didn't have that primitive feel that is so important to the steak experience.

Cholesterol Tips

Michelle Young's blog has an interesting entry on the best and worst foods for cholesterol: Shortening, one of my least favorite ingredients, shows up on the worst list. I managed to improve my cholesterol levels by eating better.

Eating around Georgia Tech: Tech Square Update

I just had dinner at Ray's: hummus and a greek salad. That was a very nice, light, healthy dinner. I just noticed the sign---Waffle House is coming to Tech Square! It will be in the old American Apparel location. I think it will be a refreshing alternative to the chic establishments that are so common in Midtown.

Joel Brasserie

Tai-Ming and Yu-Heng Lin were kind enough to invite me to their wedding reception at Joel Brasserie, one of the best known restaurants in Atlanta. Joel is no longer there but the visit was still a great experience. My favorite courses were the early ones. The chilled melon soup was a wonderful combination of textures with the thick soup and the very cold melon ball floating in the middle. The crab cake was entirely sweet, succulent crab. The scallops came in a rich, bacony sauce.

Papi's Cuban Cuisine

Errands brought me to Ponce de Leon Ave. and I realized that this was my opportunity to try Papi's. I had heard about their Cuban cuisine. Upstairs is for takeout, downstairs is for table service. Although I was tempted to try their Cuban sandwich, I decided for the chicken special. The plate contained chicken, potato, rice, beans, plantain, salad, and Cuban bread. The chicken was wonderfully tender and very well spiced. The spicing carried over to the potatoes. The beans were a little thinner than I expected but went well with the rice. I'm a sucker for the plantains----these were crispy on the outside and sweet on the inside.