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Entries Tagged as 'Asian'

Chef Danny Ting: Coco’s Chinese

So guess what? I found Chef Danny Ting!!! The slippery-as-Peter-Cheng chef came full circle and ended up where he started from: Wan Lai. I’m guessing his stint at BoBo was aimed at having a better opportunity; and his briefer stint at Golden House was all about fame and success. After all the politics have died down, he’s back to his roots and will start what he set out to do from the very beginning: cook. Where is he now? Coco’s Chinese.

Coco's Chinese Restaurant

The original Coco’s replaced Wan Lai after it closed. Opened on October of 2010, it stayed afloat for one year closing in exactly one year on October 2011. It reopened on January 20, 2012 and the savvy owners kept the name and the sign, I’m thinking, to save money. While the old Coco’s specialized in Fuzhou cuisine, the new Coco’s under the helm of Chef Danny, specializes in what he does best — Cantonese food. The menu is the exact replica of Wan Lai, BoBo Garden, and Golden House, except tinier. A lot tinier. The dishes are also a lot cheaper. I’m not gonna go through great lengths about the food. The food is as fantastic as ever. And, tastes just like when he was at the other three places.

Coco's Chinese Restaurant
Beef Tripe and Tendon: fork-tender meat and amazing savory sauce with a just a hint of five-spice powder

Coco's Chinese Restaurant
Spicy Pork in Garlic Sauce: this Cantonese style dish differs from its Sichuan cousin in that it is a tad sweeter and the sauce is thicker

Coco's Chinese Restaurant
No one does Salted Crispy Shrimp better than Chef Danny. No one.

There’s one tip I want to share, however. Go at lunch. Lunch combos cost $5.50 and comes with soup, egg roll, and rice. And while this deal sounds just like at any other Chinese places, the difference is that the portions you get are almost as big as the dinner ones. The pictures above are lunch portions. So… get two or three combos like I do so you can sample a bunch in one sitting.

I am so happy that Chef Danny finally came to his senses and decided to lay low and start cooking again. I hope he stays here longer than anywhere he’s ever been. Now don’t complain when he finally leaves again and you never had a chance because you were always meaning to go one day. There is no excuse. Go NOW.

Pictures of the menu are on my Flickr.

Coco’s Chinese Restaurant

4897 Buford Highway, Suite 104
Chamblee, GA 30341
(404) 555-1212

Coco's Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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Asian Street Markets

BuHi

While cities around metro Atlanta boast of weekly Farmers markets, the Asian side of metro Atlanta pride themselves with street and sidewalk markets. Grandmas hawking fresh, organic fruits and veggies, seafood, sauces, and many more.

BuHi

Right outside Quoc Hong, mostly on weekends, Grandma sells the sweetest oranges on earth. Softball-sized variety is $10 per a 10-pound bag. Huge, freshly-caught, Gulf Tiger shrimp as long as 8 inches (stretched out) go for $5 a pound (6-8 count). A steal considering they go for $15 and upwards a pound at supermarkets.

BuHi

But what you shouldn’t miss is her organic veggies. Potato leaves work just as well as spinach. And the water spinach? It’s the only place you’ll see them. Also known in English as straw vegetables (there’s a hole inside like a straw), the USDA has classified this plant as a noxious weed in 2010. That means you won’t find this plant in any Asian store. But you’ll find it in our own Buford Highway! $5 a bunch gets you freshly-harvested ong choy (Chinese) or rau mong (Vietnamese), or kankung (Malaysian), or pak boong (Thai). Stir-fried with soy sauce or steamed with oyster sauce and you have a fantastic veggie dish.

Duluth

Over in Duluth, Grandma sells her goods out of a mini van, in the parking lots of Korean restaurants. She makes her own kimchi (both red and white), doenjang (miso paste), and gochugaru (chili powder). She sells organic fruits and veggies from her garden: sweet potatoes, persimmons, green Korean pepper, napa cabbage, peanuts, and dried red chili peppers. Her sweet potatoes are so sweet. Boil or roast them then slather lots of butter for a great snack.

Kimchi

She makes amazing kimchi. This big bottle of special kimchi goes for $20. It includes fat, organic green onions. There are other grades of kimchi — $10 for the not so special (no special green onions), and $30 for the huge jar of white kimchi.

While Chinese grandma stays put inside Asian Square, Korean grandma is more of a gypsy. You’ll find her mini van all throughout the week in Duluth and as late as 8PM — in the Super H parking lot, Point Berkeley International Village, Market Square — all within 5 miles of each other on Pleasant Hill.

As always, merchandise vary. Check often. Also, these grandmas barely speak English. Don’t worry, you’ll be able to communicate. I do. And of course, cash only please.

Octopus Bar

Octopus Bar

Got a chance to finally try this new late-night spot in East Atlanta after cancelling three times with my best buddy who’s been cajoling me to go for the last week. Open only beginning around 10PM at the bar section of So Ba, the menu is a collaboration between So Ba’s chef Nhan Le and ex-Miller Union chef Angus Brown. I can describe the food in one word: EXCELLENT. This is mind-blowing food for the location, space, price point, and meal time.

Octopus Bar

I’ll leave the long version to Foodie Buddha. My short and sweet: amazing food. It’s like eating Restaurant Eugene food in Buford Highway. Chef Angus is a genius.

What I ate:
Maine Lobster Roll — lots of meat with just a hint of dressing (just the way it should be and just the way I like it)
Curry Beef & Pork Trotter Pot Pie — oh the buttery crust and the curry stew
Salt & Pepper Shrimp — (with shells) so crispy, perfect taste (you don’t need to go to BuHi)
Uni Carbonara — OMG
Braised Rabbit — OMG
Banh Beo — chewy Asian rice cake topped with minced shrimp
Pork Belly Musubi — aka pork (sushi) maki rolls
Hazelnut Panna Cotta — OMG it tasted like tootsie rolls

GO NOW. I mean it!!!

Octopus Bar
(at So Ba)
561 Gresham Ave.
Atlanta, GA 30316
(404) 627-9911
M-S: 10PM – 3AM
Closed on Sundays

Octopus Bar at So Ba on Urbanspoon

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Quickly Ramen & Bubble Tea (Duluth)

QUickly

I have been a long-time fan of Quickly ever since I discovered it in Asia many summers ago and in California a few years ago. Quickly first came to Atlanta (inside the Gwinnett Place Mall) in the early 2000s. Much like the first froyo seven years ago, it was ahead of its time and never took off. So I was really happy to see it come back to town. This location is the younger (open since June) but much bigger sister of the original one on BuHi. It has a full kitchen serving Taiwanese snacks, ramen, and stir-fried noodles, in addition to the bubble teas that made it famous.

QUickly

Quickly is famous for its bubble teas. Although bubble teas have been around Asia forever (I first tasted it when I was 4 in some obscure Asian town being peddled on the streets), the concept of using fancy flavors and adding custard and different kinds of jelly then having the cup sealed is a Taiwanese invention. There are 22 main flavors of bubble teas here. You can mix and match as you wish. Bubble tea is a sweet, flavored, black tea-based drink with tapioca pearls in it. Good bubble tea must be creamy yet light, milky, and with flavors really standing out — a refreshing drink. The tapioca pearls must have a soft exterior and a chewy interior. They must not crumble when you bite on them, and neither should they have a hard, gritty center. Think of the concept as al dente pasta. Oh and by the way, the tapioca pearls at Quickly are boiled with honey instead of just plain water so they have a sweetish flavor as opposed to flavorless tapioca pearls. This is the difference between Taiwanese-style bubble teas versus other versions like the Korean or Vietnamese ones made from powdered flavorings.

My Bubble Tea Collection
my bubble tea collection

While most people have a coffee habit, I have a bubble tea one. I drink it once or twice daily, every single day without fail. All flavors are good here. Current favorites are tapioca, lavender, taro, jasmine, caramel mocha, pudding, and Thai tea. For slush, you have to get the watermelon slush. It’s made with fresh watermelons. Add lychee jelly to it and you’ve got an awesome fresh fruit shake on steroids. Fresh watermelon juice (with pulp) is also a must-try. The flavored black and green teas tend to be cloyingly, syrupy sweet so if you’re not into that like me, I’d completely avoid it.

Quickly

Quickly

Now the food. There are only three things you must, must try at this place: first, the Taiwan chicken nuggets. These tender nuggets of chicken are seasoned with a blend of Taiwanese spices (including five-spice), coated with a thin layer of cornstarch, then fried golden. They are the perfect snack and so delicious. A basket for $2.50 can’t be beat either. Get the spicy kind that’s sure to keep you dreaming for more. Add to that some fried sweet potato prepared the same way and you have a perfect pair.

Quickly

The third thing that you must eat here is the fried rice. This, by far, is the best fried rice in the whole of Atlanta. Surprised? So was I. The rice is moist and very, very tasty. I love the diced napa cabbage in it that creates a wonderful crunch in your mouth. Tender, juicy pieces of meat complete this one-dish meal. Unbelievably good is all I can say.

Quickly

If you’re looking for mind-blowing ramen, you won’t find it here. What they do have is a will-do-since-you’re-already-here kind of ramen. The broth is thin and bland and the ramen tend to clump to each other. If a quick fix is all you need, then that’s all you’ll get.

This place has a cult following and teens tend to make it a hang out as soon as the sun comes down. As such, expect very long lines once 4PM hits and never lets down til it closes at midnight. Table service is always prompt, attentive, and very courteous. Cash only for bubble teas/drinks. Debit cards accepted for table service/food (upon request).

Quickly Ramen Noodle and Boba Tea
3780 Old Norcross Rd. Ste. 304
Duluth, GA 30096
(770) 476-5988

Quickly Ramen Noodle and Boba Tea on Urbanspoon

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Mr. Tea House

I am off to the beach as you read this. Funny, because I don’t really like the sun — I count the freckles on my face everyday and I don’t want to add any new ones– so I’m under a tent wearing a huge hat and caked-on SPF 1,388 all over. I really prefer cold weather, remember? Anyway… there’s this new Taiwanese place on Pleasant Hill right next door to SunO. It opened a little over two weeks ago. It’s a small, nice space with a small menu.

Mr. Tea House (Duluth)

Mr. Tea House (Duluth) Mr. Tea House (Duluth) Mr. Tea House (Duluth)

Snacks. Taiwanese restaurants are known for snacks. The snacks here are fantastic. First, the bread. I.LOVE.BREAD. I’ve said it over and over on this blog. I love bread. I spend an obscene amount of money weekly on my ridiculous bread habit. I like yeasty, doughy bread slathered in butter. I forgo desserts for the bread basket. And I love Korean white bread because it’s chewy. Imagine my surprise when I saw three kinds of toast on the menu. I eat their Condensed Milk Toast everyday. Yes, everyday. It’s a thick slice of Korean bread (from the bakery next door) which is baked (not toasted) then topped with the perfect amount of condensed milk. It is heavenly.

Mr. Tea House (Duluth)

Mr. Tea House (Duluth)

But wait. There’s also the Milk toast, topped with butter and condensed milk. And the Chocolate toast, topped with, yes, you guessed it… Nutella!!! So while most people go to a coffee shop to get through the 2PM slump, I come here for a toast. Or two.

Mr. Tea House (Duluth)

Confession: I’ve been eating my toast with a side of Fried Corn :) The sweet corn here is sooooo good. It’s slightly fried so it has that crunchy exterior. They are then lightly sprinkled with a very subtle five-spice powder. I’m not a fan of five-spice but this one doesn’t have that offensive taste. Winner!

Mr. Tea House (Duluth)

These Fried Sweet Potatoes will blow you away. The sweet potato pieces are lightly battered with tempura batter then fried golden. They are dusted with crack a sweetish-salty, red powder from Taiwan. Omg. So good.

Mr. Tea House (Duluth)

Fried Chicken. The tender, super moist pieces have a very thin but crunchy batter then finished with the same subtle five-spice powder. Perfect snack or appetizer. The Pork is just as good.

Mr. Tea House (Duluth)

Mr. Tea House (Duluth)

Mr. Tea House (Duluth)

There are only two types of main dishes here. The mini shabu-shabu (hotpot) costs $12.95 to $14.95 with your choice of meats or seafood. I’m a big eater so I can finish the entire thing including an appetizer and a toast. But I would think two people can share this and come out really satisfied if they add an appetizer. There are two kinds of broth: the regular and the kimchi. The kimchi broth has a tangy flavor. It is on the watery side which makes it a great version of the real Korean kind — good for the summer as it is not too thick and rich. The pot of broth comes with a huge plate of fresh vegetables: corn, Asian cabbage, Asian broccoli, tomato, mushroom, taro, potato, plus tofu, a meatball, and glass noodles. As with any hotpot, don’t dump everything into the pot so nothing overcooks. Place some of the veggies a bit at a time and add as you eat them. This is a great deal for hotpots considering Korean versions start at $29.

Mr. Tea House (Duluth)

The hot plates, the other main dish, are the perfect lunch option. Sizzling plates with meat and veggies are typical Asian mall food. You can find it in every single mall in Asia. The hot plate consists of a choice of meat topped with light gravy, a side of veggies (corn, peas, carrots, green beans, lima beans), and an egg. Plus a bowl of steamed rice. For $7.95, this meal can’t be beat. Daily hot plates specials only cost $5.95. The Fried Chicken is my favorite here. The cutlet is juicy and tender. The batter is crunchy. The gravy is light and tasty.

Did you know? The bubble teas are also very good here. They are more creamy and have the right amount of sweetness. The tapioca pearls are slightly smaller than other places but they are chewier. I’ve been here four times and I like that you can hang out and drink bubble tea while you work or play on your Mac (or whatever toy you have). Definitely a great addition to the neighborhood.

Special thanks to X1 for the heads up on this place :)

Mr. Tea House
2570 Pleasant Hill Rd., #104
Duluth, GA 30096
(678) 900-9728
Closed on Tuesdays

Mr. Tea House on Urbanspoon

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