I’d like to start this post with a big “thank you” to Atlanta Magazine. In August of 2006 you published “101 Favorite Restaurants” (which was actually 124) and gave eating out a goal. You see, I’m a goal oriented guy and “checking things off a list” works for me. More than eight years later, I’m still working off that list – along with twelve others. Those are just the ones with Atlanta and Georgia entries. To start off 2015, we decided to “check one” off the list, and we headed out to Buford Highway to Chef Liu. One thing that we immediately noticed, was that the place was packed and there were only a few servers.
We ultimately counted four, taking care of the entire restaurant. As we awaited a table, we were passed by a tray with what appeared to be long strips of bread and knew that we would be ordering those shortly – after we figured out what it was. In reading the comments online, it’s evident that Chef Liu has moved into new digs. Many of the reviews commented on it being a shack in the middle of the parking lot with seating for 12. But the restaurant is spacious and clean, and we were seated at a table near the back next to several larger tables with Lazy Susans in the center.
When the server came around, we ordered a couple of Diet Cokes, to go with a hot tea on the table, and asked about the bread. She said it was a twisted kruller and we ordered one.
It arrived as a one large piece of bread (easily tear-able into two) and resembled churros. But it was not sweet – it was the texture of a cake doughnut and fairly delicious.
I then continued to order a table full of food: hot and sour soup, a bean paste bun, chicken vegetable dumplings, General Tso’s chicken and chongqing chicken. This is a frequent “problem” with a new place for me – over ordering in an attempt to not miss anything. The food arrived in an odd sequence, the soup and a bowl of rice showed up first.
The soup was good, more sour than hot, but it warmed our stomachs on a blustery day. Then came my chongqing chicken, a dish also referred to as “chicken with chiles” or “firecracker chicken”.
It is a dry, fried chicken dish (which was offered both on-the-bone and boneless), stir fried with garlic, ginger and chili peppers. This dish supposedly originated near Geleshan Park in Chongqing – hence the name. It was spicy, without being too hot, lightly battered and it was spectacular. And the good news is that you’re not supposed to eat the chiles….
Jo’s General Tso’s showed up shortly after that,
and was not nearly as spicy as most General Tso’s we’ve had. It was, instead, slightly sweet, and a bite containing a piece of each chicken, combined, was perfect. The dumplings arrived after we had started eating,
and they were filled with flavor, and liquid. We chose the chicken and vegetable version (which was basically a chicken croquet inside the dumpling), and realized that we really prefer our dumplings pan-fried and a little crispy. Somewhere during the meal, Jo’s bean paste bun showed up
and she really enjoyed it. She first discovered the bean buns on our trip to Canton House and as soon as she saw it on the menu today, knew that we ‘d have to have one. When I say that I ordered a table full of food,
I don’t think that I was exaggerating. And we did a pretty good job of eating it all. But we learned that we’ll avoid the soup on the next visit, pass on the dumplings and really dig into the entrees.
And the pastries.