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Archive for February, 2011

The Atlanta Bánh Mi Guide

Banh Mi!!!

I was 10 years old when I had my first bánh mi. My mom has a very good lady friend who is Vietnamese and always had us for dinner. Growing up, Sunday afternoons were spent visiting them all the way in Jonesboro, having dinner, and staying til past our bedtime. She made the best pho and bo kho (beef stew) from scratch, and of course, bánh mìs.

Banh Mi

Bánh mìs are the Vietnamese version of subs. But a thousand times better. A heavy influence from the French, chewy, crusty French baguettes are used then filled with an assortment of tantalizing meats. Roast or grilled pork are the most popular here in the US but pork roll (meat balls), liver paté, and cold cuts are the norm in Vietnam: turkey, ham, chicken, and head cheese. Butter is normally spread on the bread but most places nowadays use mayo or a variation of butter-mayo or mayo dressing. Pickled carrots and daikon lend a hint of sweet-tangy taste plus strips of cucumbers and sprigs of cilantro all add crunch. These inexpensive sandwiches are delicious and I urge you to try one.

When Dinho grocery first opened in the late 80s, they had a sandwich shop next to it (it’s been replaced by what is now Dinho Bakery). It was the first place in Atlanta to sell bánh mi and early childhood memories always include them. All they sold were bánh mìs (slathered in butter instead of mayo) at $1.00 apiece, and these phenomenal Vietnamese cakes with the most amazing buttercream icing. The cakes were made by hand by the Vietnamese proprietress who would only make them when she felt like it, or if you happen to be good friends with her. We got a cake every month and my mom would always get bánh mìs regularly for us. They didn’t have grilled/roast pork bánh mis then so our favorite was relegated to the homemade cold cuts-luncheon meat combo. Nowadays, the bánh mì is as staple as the Big Mac. Buford Highway (and a little bit beyond) is literally peppered with bánh mì places so I thought it would be nice to showcase some of them. Call it your Atlanta Bánh Mì Guide. Here goes.

1. Quoc Huong
Quoc Huong on Urbanspoon
5150 Buford Hwy NE
Doraville, GA 30340
(770) 936-0605
Cash only
Closed Thursdays

Quoc Hong

Quoc Huong

Coming in at number one and the undisputed bánh mì king of Atlanta is none other than Quoc Huong. Did you know? The grilled/roast pork (Bánh Mì Thit Nuong) here is stellar, unrivaled, and tastes exactly the same since they’ve been open (early 90s). Seriously, don’t get anything else. The super flavorful, salty-sweet, smoky red pork is well-marinated, roasted, then grilled. Both texture and taste are phenomenal. They are the only place that uses a sweetish mayo dressing (think milder thousand island) and the perfectly-balanced sweet-tart pickled daikon/carrots are delicious additions. Sliced cucumbers and cilantro all add flavor and crunch. I love that they use a good ratio of meat to veggies that keeps the flavor of the grilled meat to stand out.

The baguettes they use have a crisp, flaky crust and a chewy inside, thanks to a super secret French bakery they employ because as Mr. Quoc Hong (as I’ve always known him) would always tell my mom: “Bánh mìs are only as good as the baguettes. No other bakers can make the best other than the French. Vietnamese-baked baguettes can never compare.” By the way, their bánh mìs heat up really well so take some home and pop them in the oven or toaster oven for a couple of minutes. P.S. Get your bánh mìs with jalapeños for punch.

2. Pho Viet
Pho Viet on Urbanspoon
4300 Buford Hwy NE
Atlanta, GA 30341
(678) 999-9110

Pho Viet

Pho Viet

A good contender and the one that takes the number two spot in Atlanta is none other than Pho Viet. The bread, baked in-house, is crisp and flaky outside, and smooth and soft inside. They use the traditional butter-mayo spread that tastes buttery rather than oily. They make the best combination bánh mi in town (Bánh Mì Dac Biet) consisting of liver paté, ham, pork roll (they call it meatball), and head cheese. Each piece of deli meat is made in-house and sold in the store. They are fresh-tasting, not salty, and sliced thick. Head cheese is quite tricky because most places that don’t prepare it right cause the cold-cut to have an off-putting taste and smell. Such is not the case here. I highly suggest you try their version. It’s the best.

The grilled pork bánh mì is just as good, with the pork tasting wonderfully savory yet sweetish. The pickled daikon/carrots has the right amount of sweet-tart flavors. The good-sized baguettes plus the generous filling of meat make their bánh mis quite filling.

3. Pho Bac
Pho Bac on Urbanspoon
4897 Buford Hwy
Chamblee, GA 30341
(770) 986-4273

Pho Bac

Pho Bac

Pho Bac’s grilled pork bánh mì is fantastic. The grilled pork has the perfect salty-sweet taste. They use mayo very sparingly and they don’t skimp on the meat which is nice. Go past the chewy, uncrusty baguette they use and they still take the number 3 position.

4. No. 1 Hong Kong Bakery
No. 1 Hong Kong Bakery on Urbanspoon
5494 Jimmy Carter Blvd
Norcross, GA 30093
(770) 837-0270

No. 1 Hong Kong Bakery

No. 1 Hongkong Bakery

The combination bánh mì (Bánh Mì Dac Biet) here is quite amazing. Reminds me of the ones we got at Dinho when we were young. The meat slices are thick and plenty. Homemade cold cuts include pork, turkey, ham, and head cheese. The pickled daikon/carrots are sliced thick and chunky to provide great crunch and offset the soft meats. The grilled pork bánh mi is just as good. The pork is seasoned well and goes well with the other toppings. The baguettes that are baked in-house are so flaky. Add plenty of cilantro and these are one of the best bánh mìs $3 can buy.

5. Huy’s Sandwich
Huy's Sandwich on Urbanspoon
6100 Live Oak Pkwy,
Norcross, GA 30093
770-666-6762
Open Daily from 8:00AM – 8:00PM
Closed on Tuesdays

Huy's Sandwich (biggest bánh mì shop)

Huy's Sandwich (biggest bánh mì shop)

The biggest bánh mì shop and newest joint of the bunch. Did you know? They offer 16 kinds of bánh mì. Including varieties you won’t find in many places: sunny side up eggs, fish (anchovies), meat balls, and liver paté, to name a few. The French bread they use is huge: 10 inches! They use butter!!! The crust is crumbly rather than flaky and the inside is soft and chewy. The meat filling is abundant, with a perfect 4:1 ratio to veggies. The pickled daikon and carrots are balanced in sweet and tart flavors. The cilantro and cucumbers are fresh and crunchy. I ate three bánh mìs on my visit. The Grilled Pork (Number 9) is the best of the lot. The grilled pork has a tiny hint of sweet crust and undertones of lemongrass. It’s tender yet at the same time, crunchy. It’s delicious.

Huy's Sandwich (biggest bánh mì shop)

Huy's Sandwich (biggest bánh mì shop)

The Combination (Thit) bánh mì which includes paté, headcheese, and steamed pork is equally good. You get a lot of different flavors from the housemade deli meats. The paté is bold and tastes of concentrated liver. The headcheese is mild and does not have that off-putting smell and off-putting porky taste. The BBQ Pork isn’t the one you’re accustomed to see in other places. Here, it’s more a pork loin that has been roasted. I prefer the grilled pork.

6. Viet Tofu
Viet Tofu on Urbanspoon
4897 Buford Highway
Atlanta, GA 30341

Viet Tofu

Viet Tofu

Viet Tofu offers ready-made, cooked-on-premises dishes such as fried rice (Com Chien), rice cakes, pastries, noodles, snacks, sticky rice, wraps, rolls, tofu, and, of course, bánh mì. Don’t bother coming in to sit down, this is a take-out only place. They offer two types of bánh mì pork here: the red roasted-then-grilled pork and a regular grilled pork. Although, the grilled pork they use isn’t quite as good as the others, they are the next best thing. The regular grilled pork is very tender and juicy. Both are grilled on-premises and very flavorful. The bánh mìs here are humongous — about three inches longer and fatter than anywhere else. They use regular mayo but the chunky pickled daikon/carrots are more tart than their counterparts so they balance well. Other notable choices include the chicken and the meatloaf. In any case, all are equally good.

7. Lee’s Bakery
Lee's Bakery on Urbanspoon
4005 Buford Hwy NE
Atlanta, GA 30345
(404) 728-1008

Lee's Bakery

Lee's Bakery

Did you know? My favorite here at Lee’s is their chocolate croissants. I order them in batches of 25 every so often. But let’s talk about their bánh mìs. I’m sad to say that I’ve never been a fan of Lee’s bánh mìs. And I notice that most people ITP really love this place. Is it the proximity to town? I find Lee’s the most inferior in the company of other places. Nevertheless, it’s a popular joint so I had to include it. The grilled pork they use here border on the sweeter side and the texture is just off. It seems like they grill the pork early in the day and reheat as needed. The result is wet, grilled meat with a boiled meat texture. The flavor is not as good as the other places in town. And they really skimp on the meat in their sandwiches.

The deli meats in their combination bánh mi is so thinly sliced, you can hardly taste them. Most times, the amount of pickled daikon/carrots is just so much that it makes me feel like I’m eating a salad bánh mi with specks of meat. It’s also worth noting that their pickled daikon/carrots border on the salty side, thanks to the heavy use of nước chấm (fish sauce). The baguettes, made in-premises, however, are quite good. No matter, it’s a good place to get a very inexpensive bánh mì fix especially if you live ITP opt for their daily special: half bánh mi with a bowl of pho all for $6.50. Can’t beat that.

There you have it, folks. Although I’ve been eating bánh mis regularly since I was 10, I ate so many bánh mìs lately that I’m laying off them for a while. Hope this guide helps you out. I had so much fun doing it.

~Chloe
Follow me on Twitter” @chowdownATL
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Huy’s Sandwich (Bánh mì)

Huy's Sandwich (biggest bánh mì shop)

So what do you do when 30 years of snow in Denver finally gets to you? You move to Atlanta!!! Owners Huy and Tina, husband and wife team, did just that, three months ago and opened the biggest bánh mì shop in Atlanta. In business a mere 7 days (thanks again to good friend G4 for the intel), Tina puts out the most delicious Vietnamese street food — buns, egg rolls, sticky rice, rice cakes, hot/cold desserts, dimsum items, and many more — while husband Huy tends to the bakery, making French bread for the sandwiches and other baked goodies. It’s a perfect partnership.

Huy's Sandwich (biggest bánh mì shop)

Huy's Sandwich (biggest bánh mì shop)

Huy's Sandwich (biggest bánh mì shop)

First, the logistics. The immaculately clean and gigantic space is take-out only. There are a couple of tables outside. No, they couldn’t put any tables inside because that means more capital needed and more astringent county code requirements to be met. The joint sits in a plaza a stone’s throw away from Hong Kong Supermarket, on the side street next to KoKai. All the food is made in-house and from-scratch by Tina. Every single baked good is baked by Huy from the bakery in the back. They’re open 7 days from 8 to 8 except Tuesdays. They have coffee and bubble teas. Credit and debit cards are accepted.

Huy's Sandwich (biggest bánh mì shop)

Huy's Sandwich (biggest bánh mì shop)

Biggest bánh mì shop. Did you know? They offer 16 kinds of bánh mì. Including varieties you won’t find in many places: sunny side up eggs, fish (anchovies), meat balls, and liver paté, to name a few. The French bread they use is huge: 10 inches! They use butter!!! The crust is crumbly rather than flaky and the inside is soft and chewy. The meat filling is abundant, with a perfect 4:1 ratio to veggies. The pickled daikon and carrots are balanced in sweet and tart flavors. The cilantro and cucumbers are fresh and crunchy. I ate three bánh mìs on my visit. The Grilled Pork (Number 9) is the best of the lot. The grilled pork has a tiny hint of sweet crust and undertones of lemongrass. It’s tender yet at the same time, crunchy. It’s delicious.

Huy's Sandwich (biggest bánh mì shop)

Huy's Sandwich (biggest bánh mì shop)

The Combination (Thit) which includes paté, headcheese, and steamed pork is equally good. You get a lot of different flavors from the housemade deli meats. The paté is bold and tastes of concentrated liver. The headcheese is mild and does not have that off-putting smell and off-putting porky taste. The BBQ Pork isn’t the one you’re accustomed to see in other places. Here, it’s more a pork loin that has been roasted. I prefer the grilled pork.

Huy's Sandwich (biggest bánh mì shop)

Huy's Sandwich (biggest bánh mì shop)
retarded-looking but delicious waffle (the waffle iron was acting up)

But wait, they have waffles (Bánh Kẹp Lá Dứa)!!! I absolutely love these. I remember these popular street food in Saigon. They’re ready in a flash and can be eaten while walking. The batter in these coconut waffles have shredded young coconut meat and infused with pandan. The fragrant aroma is unbelievable. It tastes coconutty, it’s chewy. Tina was having problems creating a perfect consistency for her waffle-maker to handle so excuse the retarded-looking product. I didn’t mind and ate it all. Priced at $1.50, what’s not to like.

Huy's Sandwich (biggest bánh mì shop)

Huy's Sandwich (biggest bánh mì shop)

Huy's Sandwich (biggest bánh mì shop)

Huy's Sandwich (biggest bánh mì shop)

You must, must try all of the hot desserts. They’re like coconut soup but sweet and thick. Not cloyingly sweet, just enough. My favorite is the Che Khoai Mi. It has chunks of chewy cassava, young coconut, tapioca, and boba. It’s comforting. Love it. I also had the one with bananas. Both are good.

There are so many things to eat here. I want to try their rice cakes and steamed buns next time. Tina and Huy are the most gracious, kind people you’ll ever find and will treat you like their own child the first second you meet them. (P.S. Tell them Chloe sent you.)

Huy’s Sandwich
6100 Live Oak Pkwy,
Norcross, GA 30093
770-666-6762
Open Daily from 8:00AM – 8:00PM
Closed on Tuesdays

Huy's Sandwich on Urbanspoon

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Raku

Raku

Raku
the Chinese symbol for Happy

So you all know by now how addicted I am to ramen, right? I ate 58 bowls last year and I’m up to 15 bowls this year (with my sister) so far. It’s only February, by the way, so I’m sure I’ll break my record last year. (Well, I’m not the Ramen Girl for nothing :D. ) I think I’m gonna have to share the title with my sister who is equally obsessed with it these days.

Raku

Raku

I’ve been literally waiting for this Korean (Japanese) ramen joint to open. Every week since early January, I’d peek at how much progress they’ve had in building the place once occupied by Shabu King in the Super H plaza in Duluth (outside on the left of the plaza, not inside the grocery). Brought to us by the same folks who own Honey Pig, they opened to the public yesterday with a very limited menu (thanks to the intel from my friend G4). I was their very first paying customer. (It’s ramen, hello?) And I also came back today.

Raku

Raku

Raku

Raku

First, I have to admit, the place is beautiful. Japanese contemporary zen is how I describe it. There’s this long communal bar in the middle with a crevice filled with unlit chunks of charcoal. The bar stools are cemented to the concrete floor so if you’re short like me, it’s not gonna be comfy as you’ll be too far from the table. I really like the enclosures for the hanging pendant lights which are lined with colorful Chinese fabrics. Everything just looks so cool.

Raku

Limited menu. They were offering only four items for now. Tonkotsu ramen, tonkatsu plate, kabob tonkatsu plate, and gyoza. I was never a fan of Korean-owned Umaido because the broth is so bland and tasted exactly like the ones in the packets you buy for 25 cents. I also don’t like their wheat flat noodles, albeit housemade. So I came here with no expectations whatsoever thinking it’s going to be just another Korean-owned ramen place. Surprisingly, the broth is very good. Really good. Not Jinbei or Haru good but very good. It is very flavorful and has a good consistency. Bold and creamy. The roast pork they use is tender and delicious. Oh and the noodles? They use egg ramen noodles like the Japanese version!!!

Raku

Raku

Raku

The Tonkatsu plate is good as well. You get a huge serving of pork fillet lightly coated in panko batter then fried to a beautiful golden brown. The pork is juicy, tender, and tasty. A side of cabbage salad, a bowl of steaming rice, and a cup of miso soup complete the meal. But wait, you also get a bowl of black and white sesame seeds. You crush them with the wooden pestle and then they come and top it with tonkatsu sauce. Sweetish-savory, nutty. Add a dollop of the Japanese mustard and you’ve got one great dipping sauce.

Raku

The Kabob Tonkatsu is almost identical except they put pieces of pork meat into skewers and separate them with pieces of sweet onions in between. Fun!

Raku

The gyoza are also very good. The wrapper is thin and chewy and the meat filling is perfectly balanced (in taste and quantity) with the herbs. It doesn’t reek with chives and scallions which I like. A great appetizer, don’t miss it.

So far so good. Can’t wait until they expand their menu to include other ramen flavors (shoyu and miso), okonomiyaki, izakaya items and sake. Was told it gets more moody at night when they turn down the lights. Do it!

More pictures (click on the mosaic to go to my Flickr page):

Raku

Raku Donkatsu + Ramen
2550 Pleasant Hill Rd.
Suite 112
Duluth, GA 30096
770-476-1212

Raku Tonkatsu + Ramen on Urbanspoon

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Of Birthdays and Noodles: Jjajangmyeon

The Shed @ Glenwood

Before anything else, today is Chow Down Atlanta’s birthday. You. Each and every one of you made this possible and I’d really like to thank you for all your support. For stopping by, reading, commenting, even hating — well, I think I only “angered” two or three of you so that’s good. You made this past four years so much fun. I’ve met so many good people, made so many new friends, and ate my weight in food (which is what I’ve been doing all my life anyway). I’m still here. And so are you. Thank you.

Did you know? There’s a Chinese tradition of eating noodles on your birthday because noodles symbolize long life. What better way to celebrate my birthday than to have a noodle post. Here’s hoping there will be more years of CDA. Cheers!

Korean Noodles 1Korean Noodles 2
Korean Noodles 3

I grew up eating noodles of every kind. Noodles when you are a kid are so much fun: slurping noodles from end to end, one noodle at a time, was the ultimate child’s play for us on the dining table. Italian and Asian noodles are both comfort food to me. One particular Asian noodles that I really like is the Chinese Ja Jiang Mein: noodles in brown sauce (or black sauce as I’ve called it). There are many variations of the sauce but basically, ground meat, sweet fermented soy beans, and hoisin are used. When I was 17, I discovered the savory Korean version, Jjajangmyeon, and all I could say then was wow.  This past summer, I had a Jjajangmyeon phase. I went to all the places in the city that had it and ate my weight in Jjajangmyeon. I’m still eating it at least once a week.

Before I tell you where to find the best bowl of jajangmyeon here in Atlanta, here’s a guide to deciphering all the different types of jajangs you’ll find on the menu. The following are the prefixes you’ll see preceding the word Jajangmyeon.

Yuni (유니) – this sauce consists of finely minced meat and finely diced vegetables without starch. Almost always freshly prepared and not offered at all places
Gan (간) – doesn’t have starch, which means the sauce will be thick like gravy. Unlike the regular jajang sauce which sits in a big pot heating away, this one is usually freshly stir fried in the wok to order
Samseon (삼선) – has seafood like squid, shrimp, scallop, sea cucumber or any combination of in the sauce
Jaengban (쟁반) – means the jajang comes premixed on a platter (jaengban means a platter) and the sauce usually consists of starch
Gochu (고추) – has chili peppers in the sauce so it’s a bit spicy

In Atlanta, there are a quite a few places that make their noodles in-house. Some even hand-pull them. Here are the best places I went to over and over again.

The best: Sam Won Gak
Sam Won Gak on Urbanspoon
1291 Old Peachtree Rd.,
Suite 103
Suwanee, GA 30024
(770) 622-6022

SWG

SWG

My favorite place.  The best place for Jjajangmyeon in the city, hands down, is Sam Won Gak. I was almost reluctant to feature this restaurant because I wanted to keep it for myself. But I decided to spread the love. I have been here literally countless of times. The beautiful yellow noodles here are homemade. They are chewy, stretchy, and perfectly sticky.  I eat two kinds of jajiang here.  Both are phenomenal. The Yuni Jajiang is what I mostly eat because of its intense, wake-up-your-senses, bold black bean flavor. The black bean sauce is so savory, smoky, thick, and chunky, with lots of minced pork and veggies. The sauce is served separate from the noodles and you’ll have to mix them up yourself. Don’t dump the entire bowl of sauce into the noodles. Add as appropriate so you can control the flavor and saltiness.

SWG

The regular jajangmyeon here is fantastic. It is similar in taste to the yuni above but the sauce is starchier, stickier, and thicker.

SWG

The jaengban jajaiang is equally delicious. It’s a platter of noodles with the sauce already mixed in. It’s starchy, has a teeny-tiny hint of sweet, and a very smoky flavor. The soybean paste taste is slightly muted here than in the yuni.

If you want the best jjajangmyeon in the city then don’t go anywhere else. This blows away any and all places in town.

The Rest (because the rest just don’t compare to the best):

Ching Mei
Ching Mei on Urbanspoon
3230 Steve Reynolds Boulevard, Ste 116,
Duluth, GA 30096-8833
(678) 205-0898

Korean Noodles

Although the noodles aren’t homemade, Ching Mei, a Korean-Chinese place inside Nukoa Plaza has good jajangmyeon. Their $5.99 huge bowl of Jajangmyeon has a sauce that’s quite good and thick. A good option if you’re in the area.

Korean Noodles

The yuni jajangmyeon here is smoky but not as black beany as I want it to be. It’s still good and the sauce is concentrated enough that you can taste the black bean paste.

Kuk Poong
Ching Mei on Urbanspoon
3525 Mall Blvd., # 1A
Duluth, GA 30096
(770) 813-8222

Korean Noodles

The regular jajangmyeon here is actually decent. The noodles are chewy and the sauce has enough flavor and smokiness to it. Avoid the gochu jaengban jajang here at all cost as it is sweet and the black bean taste is almost nonexistent.

Yeng Jing
Yeng Jing on Urbanspoon
5302 Buford Highway, #A6
Doraville, GA 30340
(770) 454-6688

Korean Noodles

This Korean-Chinese place claims to use handmade noodles. The yuni jajangmyeon here is a little on the sweet side, thanks to the dash of hoisin they use on the sauce. It’s good but not as flavorful as the other places in town. And I can’t get past the sweetish taste. The version here is more Chinese than Korean so if you prefer that then this is your place.

Korean Noodles

Their jaengban jajang uses the same sauce but it just comes premixed. Overall not my favorite place for jajangmyeon.

Man Chung Hong
Man Chun Hong on Urbanspoon
5953 Buford Highway Northeast
Atlanta, GA 30340-1375
(770) 454-5640

Korean Noodles

Man Chun Hong uses homemade “well-being” noodles, which have herbs mixed in the noodles to give it a dark green color. Although their noodles are made in house and hand-pulled, the sauce has little taste and the presence of the black beans is surely missed. The jajiang sauce is okay but coupled with the forgettable noodles, it just doesn’t do it for me.

So there. If you’ve never had jajangmyeon then you must really try it. Beats the regular ho-hum Chinese and Thai noodles we’re so accustomed to. Go now!

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My past two weeks. In food.

Haru Ichiban

Haru Ichiban

IMG_7682

IMG_7591

I went to Haru twice and Yakitori Jinbei once. Ate ramen both times. My sister is on a ramen and onigiri obsession phase. It would be our 14th ramen of the year, rotating Haru, YJ, Taka, and Blue Fin. The tonkotsu broth remains stellar at both places after all these years. And it’s been consistently good the last two years. We look like piglets when we eat. Two girls ordering dishes for four, sometimes for five people. We get stares. But we’re used to it.

Taka

We also hit Taka. Had the 5-star shoyu ramen which, I believe, is the best in the state. There was also a Miso Gindara on the menu that day and it’s one of my favorite Japanese dish. Taka is kinda hard on the pocket. A lunch here for two (mind you, we don’t eat like normal people so that’s really lunch for 4) can buy us two lunches at Haru with twice as much food.

Slutty Chinese

Slutty Chinese

Confession: I crave slutty Chinese once in a while blue moon. And nothing satisfies the craving better than General Tso. My awesome friend, Gracie-G3 (who’s into teachers teaching right now), decided we’ll just go to a random place. We ended up at a buffet place that was $6.99 per person.  There was a whole ton of food, so many stations, sushi, hibachi, and a chocolate fountain!  A great deal for the price.  The food wasn’t memorable at all.  But it satisfied the craving.  The General Tso? Blech.

Homecooked

I also had dinner with a no-name friend also from school.  We’ve know each other for maybe over a year.  No-name-girl often calls me but never identifies herself or leaves a voicemail.  And I’m too ashamed to ask her name.  Last week, she invited me to dinner. At her house.  She made batura (fried Indian bread) from scratch.  She made the dough, took a small ball out of it, dipped it in oil, then flattened it with a rolling pin.  After she’s made a 5-inch square, she then deep fried it.  It was so good.  She also made a cauliflower dish, an okra dish, some noodles, and gulab jamun (milk balls in sweet syrup).  So tell me, help me –  how do I find out her name?

Chef Ronen Skinezes @ Cooks Warehouse

Got a chance to witness a 5-star chef from Israel in action. Chef Ronin Skinezes was visiting Atlanta to promote Israeli tourism. He had a demo at Cook’s Warehouse where he prepared an amazing eggplant dip, a fish with artichoke hearts and gorgonzola beans, and the most incredible (yet simple) strawberry dessert that I’ve ever had. Omg, it was better than…

Vingenzo's

Went to visit Vingenzo’s again. I love that place. The pizza is perfection: the perfect amount of Antico and Varasano’s. (Jimmy, are you reading this?) The pastas rival La Pietra and most times, just better all around. Had two kinds of pizzas that were both stellar (all the pizzas are great anyway). They had this special pasta of the night that was really mind blowing. It was wild boar in a light tomato sauce over handmade pappardelle.  The sauce  tasted so clean and refreshing and the wild boar was not that gamey at all. Did I mention they make their own mozzarella? The bufala is fantastic but the stracciatella di burata is so creamy it’ll make you swoon.

The Big Dipper!!!!!

I’m an equal opportunity eater. I also like bad pizza. The Big Dipper from Pizza Hut, however, is not something you should scoff at. It was actually pretty good! It’s two-feet long and doesn’t have marinara sauce. You get small tubs of sauce for dipping. It’s also a steal at $12. Best for watching sports in front of the television. By the way… I love hockey. :)

IMG_7981

Went to Philips Arena. Twice. Aside from Wetzels Pretzels, one of my favorite things to snack on here is the crepes. They are so chewy and doughy. But a mess to eat so watch out for that dripping chocolate sauce on your dress. Or pants.

Iron Age

Iron Age

Hae Woon Dae

Korean BBQ is so great for late night. Two of the places I hit the past week are Iron Age and Hae Woon Dae (x2). Had both good food and great company.

Olive Garden

I also crave chain food once in a while. Did you know? I like the bread sticks at Olive Garden. What can I say? Bread is my kryptonite. They’re so soft and slightly garlicky here. Best dipped in a side of marinara sauce. G3 and I wanted no-fuss pasta and we knew we can get them here. I looked at the pictures on the menu and kept thinking about Tami. You should ask her how those pictures look so amazing. :) In any case, I had the simple spaghetti and meatballs. Can’t go wrong with that. G3 had this surprisingly good braised short ribs over ravioli.

Panera Chili

Alton Brown went to speak at school. He’s really like a stand-up comic. Very entertaining. He talked about how he got into where he is now, but for the most part, he answered everybody’s questions. Including mine: “Do you read food blogs?” I’ll post the video soon. Anyway, the free event was sold out. Good thing I got there a little bit early. Stopped by to get Panera chili for lunch on the way there. That chili is delicious. Lots of meat chunks: ground Angus beef and flank steak.

El Tenampa

Lastly, I had dinner with my childhood best friend. It was slutty Tex-Mex. Passable at best but the cheese dip was cheesy. We just got this brilliant idea of trying to eat our way around the world. In Atlanta. You know, visit all the restaurants with different cuisines from all over. So far, we’ve covered two continents. Yeah, we have a long way to go.

Hope your food week was as fun and filling as mine. Til next time!

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