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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Archive for September, 2010

Front Burner: Acworth Chef wins “People’s Platelist” on Nightline; lots of openings

Henry Chandler, the 51-year-old owner of Henry’s Louisiana Grill in Acworth, collected more than 10,000 votes to win the “People’s Platelist” competition on the ABC news program “Nightline.”  The award honors local chefs with loyal followings. Chandler, who has battled cancer for two years, talks with the AJC’s Christopher Quinn. You can read more about his award here, though you may wince at ABC News’ spelling of the word “palate.” The segment will be featured on the program this Friday, which begins at 11:35 p.m.

In other news, lots of openings:

  • P. Reds BBQ has opened at 999 Chattahoochee Ave. It’s a hilarious looking place, with a fake plane crashing into the roof.
  • The German Bakery has reopened at 2914 White Blvd. in Decatur, just off Lawrenceville Highway. Decatur Metro has the story.
  • Mark Sublette, the chef and co-owner of Trattoria One 41 in Johns Creek tells me that he hopes to open Viande Rouge in the same shopping center near the intersection of State Bridge Road …

Continue reading Front Burner: Acworth Chef wins “People’s Platelist” on Nightline; lots of openings »

Ming’s Bar B Q Report — not good

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Soy sauce roasted chicken from Ming's Bar B Q

Have you ever had one of those experiences that makes you break up with a restaurant? I think I officially called it quits with Ming’s Bar B Q yesterday.

I’ve never loved this Buford Highway restaurant but I’ve liked it well enough for its good (if, not to my palate, exemplary) Cantonese barbecue, noodles and soups. Once in a while I like to get a plate of pan-fried noodles for lunch or a box of crispy-skinned roast pork, duck or chicken to bring home for dinner. It’s the kind of place that is common in cities with bigger Chinatowns, but rare enough in Atlanta to be worth searching out.

It has never in my experience been a friendly joint, but always an efficient one.

So last night I stopped by and placed an order for some chicken, pork, garlic snow pea leaves and plain rice. Only after the order was placed and rang up did I notice the “cash only” sign. The bill was for $25.25 and I found exactly $22 in my wallet. Since our family …

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Turkish pepper paste: Magic in a bottle

pepperpasteWhile walking through Shahrzad Market on Roswell Road in Sandy Springs today, I espied this jar of Turkish red pepper paste, and it just seemed like serendipity. I needed a new jar for the season, now that stewing and braising weather has returned. Also, our kitchen is about to emerge from its protracted remodel, and we should (fingers crossed) be able to prepare our first home-cooked meal this weekend.

If you’ve never tried Turkish pepper paste, you should. It is, bar none, my favorite secret ingredient of all time — a coarse blend of sweet-hot peppers that mellow depth to any dish that involves cooked tomatoes or tomato paste. It doesn’t taste of salt or vinegar, but of meaty and summer-ripe pepper pods.


Here’s a recipe for braised Turkish-style chickpeas I published in 2003.

Split peas were easy the first time around. I cooked them until they disintegrated. That’s all split peas are — inevitable mush.

Black turtle beans took a trial run, but now I’ve got a technique: …

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Lunch? Get thee to the west side

Eggplant caponata with burrata at Bocado

Eggplant caponata with burrata at Bocado

There’s no getting around the fact that Atlanta’s not a great lunch town. Sure, there are plenty of places to grab a sandwich or burrito, or if you’re so inclined, Buford Highway offers a wealth of international options.

But what about having lunch prepared by a well known local chef? What about a lunch worth extending the lunch hour for, or one that’s worth going over budget for a mini-splurge?

It seems like all the best options these days are on the west side. Miller Union serves one of the best lunches in town thanks to the thoughtful menu, the lively scene and those great ice cream sandwiches that are lunch only on the menu. Bocado is my go to for an original sandwich, a small plate or a great bowl of soup. There’s also JCT Kitchen & Bar, which is always energizing, and Star Provisions.

I wish more of the city’s top restaurants served lunch. Are there any that I’m missing?

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Yummy Yumbii

yumbii1Last week I finally tracked down the Yumbii truck — that rolling dispenser of Korean tacos that has been leading the way in Atlanta’s development into a street-food-friendly city.

Carson Young — the truck’s owner, who is just a couple of years out of college — serves tacos, burritos, sliders and quesadillas that are prepared at Hankook Taqueria on the Westside and then assembled to order.

I caught up with the truck at the Prominence in Buckhead office tower — one of its regular stops. Because of health and police department regulations, the truck can’t yet park on city streets. But it can make arrangements to set up shop on private property. The truck hands out parking passes if you need to park in the garage.

yumbii2I ordered a chicken taco and a tofu taco ($2 each), both of which I liked as well as anything I’ve eaten at Hankook. Nice, hot chunks of protein, a swipe of Korean chile sauce, a mound of shredded lettuce and a flour tortilla combine into a nice thing to direct toward …

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Creative Loafing Best of Atlanta picks Holeman & Finch Public House for top honor

holemanLast Friday, the folks over at Creative Loafing came out with their annual “Best Of Atlanta” issue, and the food awards looked quite a bit different from years past. The critics gave up on the usual categories and proposed a smaller, more curated and far quirkier list of bests. However, readers did vote in more traditional categories.

The headliners: The critics’ pick for Best Overall Restaurant went to Holeman & Finch Public House. Their Best New Restaurant was Antico Pizza Napoletana. Bacchanalia? Not even mentioned.

“I tried to think about it differently,” said CL’s food editor Besha Rodell. “I asked myself, ‘What were the best things about this year? What did I get excited about?’ They weren’t places that fit into those traditional categories.”

Rodell said it boiled down to a question of relevance for her readers, and the fanciest restaurants weren’t necessarily the ones that her readers cared about. “We’ve always done those traditional categories in the past, but it tends …

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Kitchen renovation: the end is nigh

photo-49This morning I cleared the fridge of its many boxes of bad leftover carryout food. By this point I’ve lost all will to look for healthier options or to half-prepare food on the back deck and then wash the dishes in the bathtub. Now we’re in the Styrofoam clamshell du jour phase of kitchenlessness. I will be so happy when we this project is over.

The latest delays were not our contractors fault at all but our own for dropping the ball on countertops. Who knew the granite company would have a two-week wait time for scheduling a template fitting? Then, it took another 10 days to cut the counters.

But the counters are coming tomorrow and plumbing (thank the water gods) the day after. To finish, our cabinet guy is going to come with knobs and handles, and then we still have to find a reasonably priced wine cooler to go in the frame in the picture above. If you recall from previous posts, this is our “pass” — a window into the kitchen that people first come across when they enter …

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Column: The second coming of Tortillas

Credit: Matt Hinton

Credit: Matt Hinton

For this week’s column, we take a look at the interesting story behind Bell Street Burritos — a new food stall inside the Sweet Auburn Curb Market.

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Matt Hinton was happily employed as an adjunct professor of religion at Morehouse College — that is, until the day when his contract wasn’t renewed as a result of budget cutbacks. He managed to line up a gig at Spelman College and was soon teaching two entry-level classes — Introduction to Islam and Introduction to Eastern Religions.

There was just one problem. This was contract work, meted out semester by semester, and it didn’t offer any of the salary or security he needed to support his wife and two small children. As much as he didn’t want to, he’d have to find another source of income.

That was when this native Atlantan got the idea to bring back a piece of this city’s culinary history. Hinton would recreate the food from a restaurant with a small but loyal-bordering-on-obsessive …

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Behind the Review: Bishoku

 Portrait of Jackie Fukuya-Merkel, owner, with Yuuki Kurimaru, head chef. (Hyosub Shin)

Portrait of Jackie Fukuya-Merkel, owner, with Yuuki Kurimaru, head chef. (Hyosub Shin)

How does a restaurant reviewer write about being a regular?

I had long been eager to share some impressions of Bishoku with readers who may have noticed this place and figured it for another strip-mall sushi joint. As some of you who have read me for a while know, Japanese food is a subject near to my heart.

For this week’s review I visited the restaurant twice — once at lunch and once at dinner — to stay consistent with my policy of basing the star rating solely on the merits of review visits. As much as I liked the true-tasting Japanese comfort food and the calming environment, the salient merit of this restaurant is how well the staff is attuned to regulars and repeat customers — including me.

Generally, newspaper restaurant critics try to write from the perspective of an average Joe: we want to tell readers who walk into the restaurant from the first time what they can expect. This, …

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Bishoku dining review, Sandy Springs

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“Mr. Friedman!” Jackie Fukuya-Merkel click-clacks on her heels across the dining room at Bishoku to greet a white-haired gentleman at the sushi bar. He clambers to his feet for a hug.

Dobinmushi: matsutake mushroom soup (All photos by Hyosub Shin)

Dobinmushi: matsutake mushroom soup (All photos by Hyosub Shin)

The room is buzzy with a genteelly lubricated, late-evening energy — laughter and jazz — yet the clear timbre of Fukuya-Merkel’s voice carries above the hubbub. “What? Your son is getting married? He’s far too young for that! Oh, he’s 46?”

Mr. Friedman, I presume, is the type 1 Bishoku regular: i.e., a longtime customer of the pioneering Atlanta Japanese restaurant Sushi Huku, which Kimio and Kiyomi Fukuya (Jackie’s parents) ran for 20 years before selling in 2008.

The type 2 regulars are Japanese businessmen. They come in pairs or small groups, sit at the sushi bar and pour each other’s beers. Fukuya-Merkel greets them with bows, not hugs.

Who are the type 3 regulars? People like me, I think, who have discovered Bishoku is no …

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