If you’re like me you’re probably a little weary of hearing or reading about Sichuanese cuisine here in Atlanta – so here’s another one!
My friend Cathy Ding of the semi-retired Live to Nibble blog recently reached out to tell me to go check out Bo Bo China – a Chinese restaurant located in Lawrenceville. Along with American-Chinese food, the restaurant also has an alternative menu offering an extensive selection of Sichuanese dishes.
Cathy who is Sichuanese, stated that this is the first metro Atlanta Chinese restaurant that she has been to that is ran by actual Sichuanese. Incidentally, Bo Bo China is not related to Bo Bo Garden – the popular Cantonese restaurant located on Buford Highway.
When you first sit down at Bo Bo China, you’ll be given a couple of snack bowls filled with diced pickled vegetables and cool seasoned peanuts in blackish-purple skin. These were palate-enticing and a foreshadow of good things to come.
A lot of familiar dishes are on Bo Bo’s menu that you can spot at other Sichuanese restaurants around town. I tried some different things, but also got some similar items to do a little comparison. First up was a beef tendon dish sitting in chili oil, sesame seeds and topped with sprigs of cilantro. This dish was more cold and a lot less salty than other variations I’ve had at Peter Cheng’s or Tasty China. The tendon texture is also a bit chewier than the gummy gelatinous version that I have had.
My dining companion and I also tried their Hot pot fish and noodles in a savory-vinegary broth. It is a large serving and comparable in taste to other Sichuanese fish dishes around town but a lot less salty. The type of noodles used in the dish are translucent and rice-based. They are real slippery, but have a lot of soaked-in soupy/spicy flavor.
Midway through the meal our server came out and presented us with what Cathy calls “a pull-thread taro dish.” It’s hot chunks of fried taro that has been drizzled with some sort of über-sticky sugar sauce that has to be immediately dunked in cold water. Doing this seems to solidify an outer candy glaze on the taro while developing cotton candy thread trails around the dish. I’m not much of a dessert person but this was definitely interesting.
Last was my favorite dish of the day, and a strong candidate for the best thing I’ve had this year. The American name is “toothpick beef” which admittedly, I still don’t know much about the origins. They are bite-size pieces of meat rolled around a toothpick, slathered in ma la, fried then drizzled with toasted sesame seeds. The sesame seeds deliver a mini-boost of flavor profile and texture. I have no idea why the toothpicks are used – possibly to prevent curling when fried – as it initially seemed the dish can get on fine without them. Toothpicks are still embedded in each piece of beef so you have to be careful to bite around them.
I barely put a dent in Bo Bo’s menu so it will be fun to explore it even more. I did spot an interesting sounding dish called “ants climbing the tree.” When I asked my server about it, he smiled and explained it was a noodle dish with minced meat that made it look like a recreation of its namesake. I’m all over it.
Have you been? Any other interesting dishes to look out for?
Bo Bo China, 3870 Lawrenceville Hwy, Suite C-116, Lawrenceville. 770-564-2811.
- by Gene Lee, Food and More blog
– Gene Lee writes about International Cuisine for the AJC Dining Team. He also publishes his own blog, Eat, Drink, Man… A Food Journal.