Once upon a time, China Cooks had the best salt and pepper squid in town — a spicy, glorious heap of softness and crunch, a thing to inhale without restraint.
This is not it.
This is the perfectly fine squid served at China Cooks now. It is crisp and flavorful, if a little chewy. There are few tentacles, and the one I did get seemed suspiciously thick in the middle. Because I have cleaned squid, I knew what to look for — the creature’s hooked black beak, still in place. Um…no thanks.
I used to have a real fondness for China Cooks — this little Cantonese restaurant in the Copeland Village shopping center near the intersection of Roswell Road and I-285 in Sandy Springs. It was worn, lived in, real. It has that heap of squid goodness.
I stopped by for lunch with a friend, and we found ourselves the only ones in the quiet, dark dining room. We were offered the American Chinese menu and asked instead for the Chinese one (which is a pink sheet in a plastic sleeve). This dish of shrimp with scrambled eggs (a Cantonese dish that can be brilliant) seemed here to be the sum of its parts, with a bit too much salt. The shrimp were not cleaned of their digestive tracts.
But my friend and I very much liked this dish of bean sprouts sauteed with little mini-cubes of dried fish and scallions. It was soppy, slick and very tasty when alternated with mouthfuls of rice.
Worth checking out if you’re in the neighborhood? If you really love Chinese food, even middlin’ Chinese food, perhaps.