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Archive for August, 2010

Front Burner: Update on Peter Chang’s return to Atlanta, Gillespie talks ice cream

Braised beef

Braised beef

We stopped by Tasty China in Marietta last night with my pal from Knoxville who had introduced me to Hong Kong House — the Peter Chang-touched restaurant there.

We had a pretty great meal, including this platter of tender braised beef coated in gobs of hot chile, Sichuan peppercorn, onion and cilantro. We also spoke with owner Dahe Yang who claims that he has indeed signed a lease on a restaurant space for the wandering Chinese chef Peter Chang, who leaves scores of fans in every restaurant he has touched between Northern Virginia and Atlanta. Yang said that Chang was in New York shopping for dishware. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, we met the new Tasty China chef Jiguo Jiang, who prepared a fantastic meal of mostly vegetarian items for us.

Feast your eyes on:

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Crispy fried mushroom strips. I was dying for a cocktail to go with this supreme crunchfest.

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Braised potatoes and eggplant with peppers in a thick, mild soy-based sauce.

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The best stir-fried cabbage any of …

Continue reading Front Burner: Update on Peter Chang’s return to Atlanta, Gillespie talks ice cream »

Top Chef — the halfway mark

This super-fast recap of the first half of the current season of “Top Chef” is pretty amusing — particularly if you haven’t been following it closely.

It stops short of last night’s episode and Tiffany Derry’s double win. Has anyone with immunity ever gone on to win the elimination challenge? Any TC scholars out there know the answer?

Also, if you want to find out more about Tiffany, here’s a review of Go Fish Ocean Club — the restaurant where she is chef in Dallas.

Oh, and I want to say something about last week’s pea puree. Actually, not about last week’s pea puree but about pea puree in general.

You know the secret to great vegetable purees? It is something I learned from a fine chef named André Gamard. Add mashed potato flake. Yes, seriously. Puree your soft cooked vegetables in a food processor with butter or cream and maybe some aromatic herbs or well cooked onion. As it blends, add a small amount of instant mashed potato flake, bit by bit, until it just comes together …

Continue reading Top Chef — the halfway mark »

Falafel — the search continues

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Falafel platter from OU For U

Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl, the great Minneapolis-based food writer, wrote that she once made the mistake of conducting a search for the best gyros. It didn’t take her long to discover that ribbons of shaved, spit-warmed processed gyro meat wasn’t really a lot different here from there.

But falafel — that’s another story. It seems that no two of these mashed chickpeas balls are at all alike. Some are cakey, other soft almost gooey in the center. Some are green with fresh parsley; others pale, chalky and smacking of dehydrated spices.

Here are some of my favorites around town:

  1. OU For U: This kosher Israeli spot in Dunwoody serves crispy, spicy falafel. I like the sandwich, but I like this platter better, if only to swipe the falafel through the fine house hummus. Pluses: Generous portion, great cuminy, spicy kick. Minuses: Texture is kind of dense.
  2. Falafel King: This funny sushi/falafel spot in Emory Village is run by a sweet Korean couple who never …

Continue reading Falafel — the search continues »

Trend spotting: fried nibbles

photo-37The other day we started off a meal at Salt Factory –  the Roswell gastropub — with a bowl of these spicy fried chickpeas. Crunchy on the outside, squishy on the inside, they were kind of fun to pop, pop, pop in the piehole with the first sips of beer.

I first encountered this snack at a tapas bar in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood called Tia Pol. Those were a bit firmer — perhaps a difference between canned and fresh, reconstituted chickpeas.

The owners of Salt Factory serve a similar snack of fried hominy at their nearby Mexican restaurant, Inc. Street Food. Love those.

Fried pickle chips are all over menus now, as well.

Are there any other interesting fried snack’ums on menus these days that we should be on the lookout for.

Continue reading Trend spotting: fried nibbles »

Tasty China twin revealed

photo 2I may have to duck flying fistfuls of Sichuan peppercorns after I reveal the location of the Tasty China twin menu.

Yesterday I posted four pictures of a Chinese restaurant meal and asked readers to guess where they were taken. Anyone reading the post would have immediately recognized the dishes as signatures of Peter Chang, the gypsy chef whose stops around the country included an unforgettable stint at Tasty China in Marietta. Even though Chang has long gone, his imprint on the menu remains.

This past weekend I visited a friend in Knoxville, Tennessee. For dinner he took me and my family to a Chinese restaurant he loved called Hong Kong House. Imagine my surprise when I cracked open the menu and found an exact doppelganger of the Tasty China menu. As it turns out, this restaurant was Chang’s next stop on his journey around the Southeast. We ordered a number of dishes that compared favorably to their counterparts at Tasty China, though the Sichuan peppercorns used here …

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Revisit: Kyma

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Six thirty on a Wednesday night is, to my way of thinking, the one time you can safely walk in to any Atlanta restaurant and find a table.

Yet it was touch and go last week at Kyma — the Buckhead Greek restaurant that has been going strong for nearly 10 years. With a braying crowd in the bar and phones ringing off the hook at the front dais, it took some time to get the attention of the manager. “You don’t have a reservation,” he repeated, sounding dubious and telling us to stand by.

After a 10-minute wait in the bustle of the white marble front foyer, we finally got the signal to follow the manager three feet to what was surely the worst table in the house — right by the door to the kitchen. Our neighbor was a forlorn iced octopus, spreading its tentacles over the fish display. Still, this table felt like a score.

photo 1As did the meal. With so many top Atlanta restaurants offering variations on the same theme of Southern farm-to-table cooking, few stand out as uniquely as Kyma. …

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Atlanta grants first mobile food truck permit

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Carson Young with the Yumbii taco truck sent out this Tweet yesterday — music to the ears of the many people vested in seeing Atlanta develop a food-truck culture.

This means the truck is no longer confined to vending mobile food in one or two designated areas. It can now, say, answer the call from an office building and set up operations in its parking lot. This is the promise of Los Angeles-style mobile food: in a city where it can be hard to get to the good food, the good food can come to you.

Yumbii sells the Korean tacos developed by Hankook Taqueria.

One small step for truck, one giant step for truckkind.

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Chinese food: Where is it?

All right, Chinese food fans. Riddle me this: Where were these pictures taken?

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Pork ribs with golden powder (sorry the picture is blurry)

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Tofu and boiled fish in hot oil

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Fish and cilantro rolls

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Dry-fried eggplant

Any guesses?

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Sunday Column: Mobile coupons change dining game

scoutjpegFor this week’s Sunday column, I looked at a shift in the way online coupons function. New mobile apps — such as those for Scoutmob and Coupon Clipper don’t require any advanced purchase. You can simply look for nearby deals and choose a restaurant on the spur of the moment. Diners who like to make spontaneous decisions will rejoice.

Dining coupons make their mark

The waitress looked at the image on my smart phone, furrowed her brow and said, “I’d better call the manager.”

Within a minute the manager came bounding over, an excited grin stretched across his face. “You’re the first one!” he exclaimed. “I’ve been waiting to see this! Go ahead, press it!”

On the phone’s screen was an electronic coupon surrounded by a perforated line, as if one could just take a scissors and cut it out. I touched a button or two, and a virtual rubber stamp swooped in to press the word “REDEEMED” across the coupon in blocky red letters.

The manager sighed with delight and smiled. “Cool!” I …

Continue reading Sunday Column: Mobile coupons change dining game »