A couple of years ago, I went to the new location of Boudreaux’s Cajun in Lawrenceville. It was the sister eatery of the famous one in downtown Duluth. There, a Rico Cunnington was managing the place, and occasionally dabbled in the kitchen where he learned how to cook everything on the menu. While the stint was short-lived, as was the restaurant, he opened his own place right after to do what he loves to do: cook. With a big influence from him mom, Nette, a Filipino who cooked for 20 years at the old Lanier Inn, Rico aims to serve an international-flavored cuisine. You’ll see mostly cajun dishes on the menu with hints of southern and Filipino influences here and there.
I practically ate off the entire menu on my first visit and I could honestly say everything here is good. First, the famous Nette’s Lumpia, a Filipino-style fried egg rolls is a must try. Rico’s version is laced with cilantro and celery, a nice touch and a deviation from the original version. Still, the requisite filling of minced pork, carrots, and spices are all there, fried to a golden crisp, and served with a side of sweet and tangy sauce for dipping.
The winner among the appetizers, however, is the Fried Eggplant. Slices of tender, Asian eggplant are dipped in a light cornmeal batter, fried golden, then sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. It is quite light, with a good play on crunch and squishy.
The Fried Green Tomatoes is an exact replica of the eggplant and while good, just not as great as the fried eggplant. Still a good choice for an appetizer, however.
The soup of the day was Gumbo. It was delicious. There were chunks of fresh okra, tomatoes, huge pieces of chicken, Andouille sausage, and tiger prawns, then topped with freshly steamed Jasmine rice. The broth was bold with the perfect balance of spices. A big bowl is good enough for sharing, although I have no problems finishing this on my own.
I requested for a Mojo Pork Cuban Sandwich, and while not on the menu, was readily available upon request. The marinated, slow roasted pork was just delectable. Tender and tasty. It came with house-made potato chips and mojo dipping sauce. Absolutely wonderful.
My friend, who didn’t want to eat anything heavy, opted for the Fish Salad. Fish salad, you may ask? This one’s simply fantastic. Fresh white fish and crab are minced into a salad (think tuna salad but a hundred times better) then served on half an avocado, with field greens, fresh blueberries, cashews, and drizzled with Rico’s own syrupy balsamic vinaigrette. The combination of flavors were just amazing.
Stuffed after eating everything in front of us, Ms. Nette insisted we try her cakes, baked from scratch daily. Without any chance to say no, she placed a slice of carrot cake in front of us. This may very well be, the best carrot cake I have ever had. The cake is so incredibly moist with lots of fresh carrot bits. The cream cheese icing is light and not too sweet. Even a non-dessert person like me loved it. I can just imagine how the other cakes tasted. There was Red Velvet, Lemon, and Hummingbird at the time.
This no-frills eatery serves the most refreshing dishes made in the premises from scratch and with love. Do be sure to call ahead as the place have erratic hours, and, most times close for catering.
Note: Our total bill came to $40 before tip which included 2 sodas and the carrot cake. A bit much for lunch but we wanted to try as many items as we (or in this case, my stomach) could handle.
Located on the corner of Woodward Crossing and Mall of Georgia Blvd in the Ivy Creek Plaza.
Patio dining available.
Rico’s World Kitchen
2720 Mall Of Georgia Blvd
Buford, GA 30519