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Seo Ra Beol

Seo Ra Beol
It’s a stand alone building. The name of the restaurant isn’t in English.

Being an Atlanta native, I know the history of food in the city more than most. Because this is the only blog you’ll see that kind of information, I make it a point to include some of that history in almost all my posts. By now you should also already know I love Korean food. I’ve eaten so much of it everywhere. I’ve eaten at almost all the Korean places in metro Atlanta. We used to go to this one and only Korean place in Georgia located in downtown Atlanta when I was in elementary all the time. That’s when I decided Korean was going to be my favorite cuisine.

Seo Ra Beol

Tofu 88 on Buford Highway was the Asian Waffle House. It was open 24 hours and served cheap and good eats. It was the place to study on the weekends when most college libraries and coffee shops are already closed. It was also the only place to get the most amazing Pork Kimchi fried rice on the planet. It closed three years ago. Right next door to it was the most awesome Mandarin restaurant that was an Atlanta institution for the non-Cantonese Chinese community and has been around before I was even born. I remember going there regularly for family dinners while I was growing up. After about twenty years, sadly, the place closed. At that time, the Korean boom was just beginning in Atlanta. That’s when Han Il Kwan came into the picture and occupied the vacant spot. About three years ago, when most restaurants were closing due to the economic downturn, Han Il Kwan decided to close and relocate to Pleasant Hill where most Korean businesses are located, thus, having better exposure to Koreans. They got the old location of another failed (yet awesome restaurant) called Seoul Garden (which had the best chap jae). But business began to pick up and instead of closing and relocating, they decided to keep Han Il Kwan open but close around midnight instead of being open the usual 24 hours. They gave the new Han Il Kwan restaurant another name: Seo Ra Beol. You’ll find some of the staff from Tofu 88 here, too. Side note: I saw former Atlanta Falcons Hines Ward eating dinner here with his family two years ago. He’s very nice and humble.

Seo Ra Beol

How I’ve never written about this place still surprises me. Just like it’s sister restaurant, this place has amazing food. But unlike it, you will find hardly any Americans (or non-Koreans) eating here. I have yet to see one in the three years I’ve been eating here regularly (well, except for Hines Ward who is technically Korean so he doesn’t count, me, and the friends I take here). The menu is as extensive and mirrors Han Il Kwan except for maybe a handful of dishes. There’s Korean BBQ, soups, stews, and both authentic and mainstream Korean dishes. I love the spicy beef rib soup here. The broth is bold, not thin or watery, and has just the right amount of spiciness. The beef short ribs are very tender and flavorful.

Seo Ra Beol

The Yankee in me loves fried rice and I am known to beg any kitchen to make me some if I don’t see it on the menu. The one here has a smoky flavor and not mooshy just like the way fried rice should be. You can basically ask them to make whatever kind of fried rice you want. I get beef with Korean sausages and a fried egg. Sometimes, I beg for kimchi fried rice. Just remember to ask nicely.

Seo Ra Beol

This is one of the best places in the city for galbi, Korean short ribs. The marinade they use is phenomenal. It has the perfect balance of sweet and savory. They also cook the meat perfectly. Korean ribs isn’t steak. It’s also marinated. Cooking it to medium makes the meat stringy and rubbery. It has to be grilled enough to be a little crispy on the outside without burning yet tender and juicy on the inside. Not very many places can do that. They do here.

Seo Ra Beol

Seo Ra Beol

Seo Ra Beol

The soondubu, bibimbap, spicy beef soup, black goat soup, pancakes, are all good here. So if you’re hungry or craving Korean late night, you can go here (or to Han Il Kwan). You won’t be disappointed.

Note: The restaurant is accessible on both Pleasanthill Rd. and Steve Reynolds Blvd. Please note that the sign is NOT in English. You can read my friend FNS’s post here.

Seo Ra Beol
3040 Steve Reynolds Boulevard
Duluth, GA 30096
(770) 497-1155

Seo Ra Beol on Urbanspoon

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King + Duke

King+Duke

Once in a while, I get to eat fancy. A reward for regularly eating cheap-but-delicious-eats in my food ‘hood of Duluth, BuHi, and Suwanee. I’ve seen so many drool-worthy photos of the food here on Instagram and been wanting to visit. My dinner party of three couldn’t secure reservations so we tried our luck and arrived at 9:45pm. The place was packed to the brim on this Thursday night but after waiting 20 minutes, we finally got a table. If you like expansive, modern space and a vibrant atmosphere then this is the place for you. Added bonus for seeing the most interesting and beautiful people of Buckhead.

We ordered six appetizers and three mains, a conservative move given my famous eating style of eating the entire menu. But since the kitchen’s last call is a little after 11PM, we really couldn’t order a lot more, have a good pacing of our dishes, and still beat closing time. So reluctantly, we chose what we thought would be a good representation of the kitchen skills.

King+Duke

First up, the popovers. If you grew up in Atlanta like I did, you’ll recognize these from the first restaurant to ever serve them in the city: The Zodiac. Doesn’t sound familiar? That’s because they now call themselves the NM Cafe. From the famous department store. Growing up, no trip to Lenox Square was complete without our mom taking us to The Zodiac for popovers and burgers. The version of the airy, eggy muffins at K+D is smaller, denser, and yeastier. Just the way I like them. I could eat six of these easily in one sitting. Oh wait… I did! Slather them with the accompanying whipped buttermilk butter for a fantastic bread appetizer. Or eat more for dessert which I also did.

King+Duke

Quail and Rabbit Terrine. Topped with a thin sheet of moonshine gelée and a dollop of housemade whole grain mustard, it was simply amazing. Most terrines I’ve tasted reeked of gaminess but not this one. The texture and the flavors were just so perfect.

King+Duke

Beet Salad. Not your ordinary beet salad. This had feta from sheep’s milk made earlier in the day and came with fresh oranges, marinated cucumbers, wood-roasted farm carrots, and harissa that was really nice and added another dimension of flavor to the simple vinaigrette dressing.

King+Duke

Beef Tartare. All I can remember is that it was awesome. I was getting food ADHD at this point. Kitchen is closing soon, delicious dishes piling up at the table.

King+Duke

Buttermilk Fried Quail. This should come as a main dish. Thin and crispy buttermilk coating, tasty quail, and the best romesco I’ve tasted aside from my grandma’s. So yummy.

King+Duke

Roasted Bone Marrow. Top three in my book. This one had a sweetish short rib marmalade with both crispy and tender pieces of shredded short rib, and some smoked mushroom salad. Most versions in other places are bland and only get the flavors from the accompanying ingredients. But not this one. This one had flavor so you don’t just taste a glob of fat. Brilliant.

King+Duke

Crab Toast. Fresh blue crab in a simple lemon-dill base with charred chiles, avocados, and thin slices of radish. These are so refreshing and you can really taste the sea from the freshness of the crab meat.

King+Duke

Now for the mains. The portions are huge so keep that in mind. I’m a big eater so I have no problems putting away everything that lands on the table. The Gum Creek Pork Roast came with substantial slices of pork loin and a thick slab of rib. They were wonderfully cooked and served with a thick au jus, grilled kale, and sour cherries. I’m tired of seeing pork dishes served with some kind of apple so I was really pleased to see sour cherries instead. Inventive and delicious.

King+Duke

Mississippi Rabbit. This roasted rabbit was void of any gaminess you often see everywhere else. The meat is juicy and flavorful. The sweetish savory au jus really went well with the meat. My sister really enjoyed this dish especially since it came with farro salad.

King+Duke

But the winner of all the delicious mains was the Roast Peking Duck. It had everything that makes an amazing dish. Crispy leg, tender and juicy breast, spit roasted in coal. There are red mustard greens and plums that really brought out the flavors of the meat yet didn’t clash at all. Genius.

King+Duke

I’m not a big dessert fan. I’m a breadgetarian so I opted to eat more of the popovers. But my sister is a huge dessert eater and requested the brilliant Pastry Chef Chrysta Poulos, who was in the house, to make her gluten-free desserts. How I ended up with a sister who loves salads and eats gluten-free is beyond me.

King+Duke

This sundae is what you get when a normal sundae dresses up for a party and rides in a muscle car.

King+Duke

This cheesecake is like the math whiz in class.

King+Duke

Mutiple visits are definitely a must. I want to try the candied lamb belly appetizer, the burger, the roasted lobster, and maybe even a fish dish. You can make your visit as expensive as you want depending on the dishes and amount of appetizers you order or make it simple and just have appetizers. You can also get the dinner for two which is a great deal. Our bill for three people for all the food, desserts, and two diet cokes came to close to $160. And though I can’t ball here every week or even a couple of times a month, that’s a little over $50 for each person before tip. Not bad considering the amount of food we ate. Definitely one of the best meals I’ve had in the city. Solid all around — food, service, space, ambiance. Chef Joe Schafer is brilliant.

King + Duke
3060 Peachtree Rd NW,
Ste 160
Atlanta, GA 30305
(404) 477-3500

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Don Soo Baek

Don Soo Baek

Remember what I said about Korean restaurants constantly reincarnating itself? This is one of them. This used to be my beloved Moon Family restaurant. I was so sad when I came in the day after Easter to find out they were closed — they never close! So I came back a few days later, on April 6th, and sure enough, my favorite place has been replaced by a new restaurant. They had only been open the day before.

Don Soo Baek

I came in ready to find faults. After all, they can’t be as good as the best Korean restaurant that has ever opened in Georgia; no one can replace (nor replicate) Moon Family. So I came in, pouting, stomping my feet, and with a heavy heart. I was immediately impressed by the warm reception from the servers, even though they still treated me like an amateur yankee. The menu was very limited and nothing was in English (that’s still the case up to now). I started asking about dishes using their Korean names — I may not speak Korean but I speak Korean Food fluently — I guess I earned street cred after that because they all started telling me what’s on the menu… in Korean. So for my first meal, I went with their specialty: pork soup.

Don Soo Baek

Don Soo Baek

Don Soo Baek

Don Soo Baek

One spoonful of this pork soup and DSB became my most favorite restaurant. I thought no restaurant can ever top Moon Family when it comes to awesome tasting Korean food. But this one is it. How do I know? If you haven’t noticed yet, I have eaten at almost all the Korean restaurants in the metro. I’ve been to 80+ of them. I can tell you the specialty of each Korean restaurant in Duluth and Suwanee. But back to the soup. This is the best soup in the history of Korean food in Georgia. The glorious tonkotsu broth has that glistening fat on top and the creaminess that only hours of boiling and breaking down the collagen from the pork bones can produce. There’s a lot of pork slices and offal, too, and those don’t taste porky at all. The correct way to eat this is to dump the rice into the soup. It’s why they call it pork rice soup (Daeji Guk Bap) to begin with. But the Chloe way to eat this is to spoon some soup and pork slices into your rice bowl a spoonful at a time. That way, you can adjust how soupy your every bite is.

Don Soo Baek

Don Soo Baek

I sent my good friend Gene, a Korean, of Eat Drink Man fame (and who also used to blog for the AJC) to this place the same week he came back from an eating tour of Korea and he, too, found this place legit. A “restaurant for the working class” is what he said the term is for good places like this. I made him eat their hearty Dak Doritang, a super spicy chicken stoup (a cross between a thick stew and a soupy soup). It’s my other favorite here. His verdict: delicious. The bold broth/sauce has the perfect balance of sweetish, savory, and spicy with large pieces of potatoes and at least half a chicken cut into huge chunks. The Chloe (and easy) way to eat this is to scoop out the chicken and transfer one piece at a time to the empty bowl provided to remove the bones and get the meat parts. Transfer the meat to your rice bowl, add soup and potatoes, then scoop to your mouth. Now you’re eating like a true Korean!

Don Soo Baek

Don Soo Baek

Every meal is ended with the awesome Yakult. If you didn’t grow up in a household where your mom’s weekly grocery shopping in Atlanta involved Food Giant, A&P, and YDFM and bringing home loads of Yakult like I did, then you missed out. This is a tasty, yogurt-tasting, lacto-bacilli drink that was really meant to be a kiddie drink. And if you’re like me and find yourself being liked by Asian elders everywhere because they are so tickled that you’re eating their authentic, acquired-tasting food, then you’ll get many presents from the kitchen. Like fruits and desserts reserved for the staff.

Don Soo Baek

I go here at least 2-3 times a week. Not only because I love Korean food but it’s like comfort food to me. Everything is good. The cold noodles (naengmyeon), the pork bone soup (gamjatang), and the pork and sundae (blood sausage) ssam are all phenomenal. I’ve added the Korean names of the dishes on this post to make it easy for you to order. One more note, this isn’t for the newbie Korean eater. It’s truly an authentic Korean joint. You won’t find mainstream Korean dishes here like tofu soup of bulgogi. I want all of you to love Korean food as much as I do and my honest advise is to start out with mainstream dishes at the myriad of places offering delicious versions in town (like Han Il Kwan, So Kong Dong, Seorabeol, Well Bean, or Book Chang Dong). Once you’re accustomed to the different flavors of the cuisine, graduate to a more advanced palate and come here. After all, it takes an acquired taste to love offal or pork neck bones in soup.

Don Soo Baek
3473 Old Norcross Road
Duluth, GA 30096
(770) 622-7780

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Moksha Kitchen

Confession: Indian food isn’t a cuisine that comes to mind when I’m hungry. That’s because I have never found truly good Indian food in the city that will not gross you out or break the bank. Most places I’ve encountered have buffet service that are gross — the place is dirty and dank, and the food is never good. But I do love naan bread (or any bread for that matter) so my quest never stops. Three years ago, I found the best Indian food in the city. It’s at a place called Moksha Indian Cuisine in Roswell. The place is classy and clean and the food, well, it was the best Indian food ever. Unfortunately, as all good things come to an end, it ended up closing. It was not because of lack of customers or bad food, but because the road where it sits had to undergo a major construction that lasted forever. No one could get to their parking lot unless you make two u-turns on a very busy street where traffic is horrendous.

Moksha Kitchen (Duluth)

Moksha Kitchen (Duluth)
Paper plates and full service lunch from when they just opened

Last December, I was driving through Peachtree Industrial Blvd and lo and behold, a familiar sign caught my eye. I went by almost everyday to see when it would open. I came in on opening week and although the interior space hasn’t been completed yet, the food was the same outstanding food that only this place is capable of making. During that time, it was so bare bones that dishes were being served on paper plates and the floor was still bare concrete. Still, the food was unbelievably good. And it only makes sense, after all, this place is pedigreed — Udipi Cafe (home of the famous thalis) is a sister restaurant!

Moksha Kitchen (Duluth)

Moksha Kitchen (Duluth)

Moksha Kitchen (Duluth)

Moksha Kitchen (Duluth)

This month, they started doing a buffet lunch that includes Saturdays. This isn’t the usual gross Indian buffet lunches you’ve come to know. This is the ONLY Indian buffet lunch you need to know. First, the place is classy and super clean. There are no sticky booths or icky serving utensils you’d be afraid to touch; or dank carpet you don’t want even your dirty sneakers to walk on. Second, food is delicious. I have no other words except this is the best Indian food in Georgia. Third, the naan. You will never find a better naan. Ever.

Moksha Kitchen (Duluth)

Moksha Kitchen (Duluth)

Moksha Kitchen (Duluth)

While you can only expect the usual Northern Indian fare during lunch, they do change it up a bit daily so you won’t see identical dishes everyday. The tandoori chicken is moist and very tender; not dried out and tough. The butter chicken has a creamy sauce that you’d want to slurp or pour over your rice. The chicken curry will blow you away — there aren’t any boneless pieces which is the very reason it’s good. After all, stews with bony pieces are always far excellent in taste than those without. The saag paneer is the real thing. There are no tofu cubes parading as paneer cheese. You won’t find massive quantities of dishes where everything tastes the same. Instead, each dish is carefully prepared with quality ingredients and has its own distinct taste. You won’t find a better tasting Indian food anywhere.

Moksha Kitchen (Duluth)

Now let me tell you about the naan. This is the best naan you will ever have. Soft, pillowy, yeasty, and buttery. Trust me, a basket is not enough; you’ll be asking for more. I do.

For $10, this is the best Indian lunch buffet money can buy. Dinner time is when they get creative with notable Kerala cuisine such as Chicken Kheema (ground chicken cooked in garlic and spices and reduced until the sauce has bold flavors), Fish Malabar (fish in coconut milk and tamarind masala sauce), and Bagara Baingan (an eggplant dish in a garlicky/gingery curry sauce), just to name a few. Entreés start at $10 for dinner.

You will always see an Indian lunch buffet in every strip mall in every corner but you won’t see the quality and the superb taste of the dishes here. Now go and eat good Indian food for a change.

Moksha Kitchen
3294 Peachtree Industrial Blvd
Duluth, GA 30096
(678) 473-9288

Moksha Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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Bruce Logue: BoccaLupo

When I started blogging in early 2007, Chef Bruce Logue’s La Pietra Cucina was the “it” restaurant. The food blogging scene was just emerging and bloggers met there (on different occasions) to meet each other for the first time. It’s also where you’ll see the who’s who in Atlanta. It became a favorite restaurant of mine, although, the price point prevented me from going there as much as I would like. It was good, however, that they have lunch service where prices were more affordable. Chef Logue has since left LPC and is now at the helm at BoccaLupo. The new digs is less formal, more casual. The prices are more affordable that it’s no longer a special occasion place like LPC.

I have a dinner group of 6-7 food-loving people who get together regularly to catch up with each other and, well, try new (and most times old) restaurants. Having a big group means having the ability to try almost the entire menu. It’s also a cheaper way to eat out and be able to try a lot of dishes. And since I don’t drink at all, I don’t have to worry about adding $20+ to my bill. Win-win!

So let me just tell you what I think about this place rather than the usual hashing out the ingredients from each item and using the monotonous 6 or so superlatives used to describe food. I love this place. Overall, I like it better than LPC. I love the cool vibe. It’s fun and not stuffy (or snobby) at all. I love the food. Everything is handmade from scratch by Chef Bruce including the desserts (except for the Gelato). Everything I ate was delicious and even better than LPC. I love the prices. It’s a true neighborhood joint where you can hang out and go several times a month without having to go bankrupt. You just really have to go!

Now for the spread…

BoccaLupo (Inman Park)

One of the chef’s signature items is this plank with assorted cured meats and a pineapple mostarda that is so amazing. It was my favorite at LPC then and it’s still my favorite now!

BoccaLupo (Inman Park)
Risotto Balls

BoccaLupo (Inman Park)
Grilled Asparagus with poached egg

BoccaLupo (Inman Park)
Tuna Tartare

BoccaLupo (Inman Park)
Bruschetta Banh Mi with slow roasted pork and chicken livers (so delicious)

BoccaLupo (Inman Park)
Fried Cauliflower with ming and capers (another winning appetizer)

And now for the mains…

BoccaLupo (Inman Park)

One of the Chef Bruce’s signature dish and a longtime favorite of mine is his Black Spaghetti. The pasta is made from squid ink and is actually a common Italian dish in many Asian countries. There are pieces of Calabrese sausages and succulent red shrimp in there that really makes this dish outstanding.

BoccaLupo (Inman Park)
Roasted Branzino (quite possibly the best version I’ve had)

BoccaLupo (Inman Park)
Mushroom Risotto (oh so good)

BoccaLupo (Inman Park)
Top left: 20-yolk Tagliatelle and top right: Pappardelle Bolognese (both super amazing)

I’m not a big dessert fan but my group really liked these…

BoccaLupo (Inman Park)
Zeppole with Chocolate Sauce

BoccaLupo (Inman Park)
Pistachio Semi-Freddo (get this!)

BoccaLupo (Inman Park)
Gelato and Cookies

So there. Awesome food. Great place. Go, go, go!

BoccaLupo
753 Edgewood Ave
Atlanta, GA 30307
(404) 577-2332

BoccaLupo on Urbanspoon

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