Shake Shack

September 30, 2014 · 0 comments

in atlanta, dining out

Shake Shack Atlanta

Having never been to a Shake Shack, yes, I was that guy that visited a restaurant within a few hours of opening. It’s a poor move for those expecting to find a restaurant in their groove, but this is fast food we’re talking about. Besides, I’ve been reading about Shake Shack for as long as blogs have existed, I have a hard-on for burgers, and I wanted to see what the noise is all about.

Once you navigate parking (which may be a challenge) you should expect a line, but it moves briskly, the orders taken by an army of smiling cashiers who were managing quite well for go-live day.

I sampled a number of items to get the full experience – the regular single burger, a take on a Chicago dog, chocolate s’mores concrete, fries, and a soda – $19 all in.

Shake Shack Atlanta

I enjoyed the burger. It’s piled high with toppings, a little over the top with the special sauce, but it satisfies that fatty/salty fast food itch, with just enough quality that I don’t self loathe. The quality of the large beef patty is noticeable, which puts it a slight cut above an In-N-Out burger to me.

Krinkle cut fries are hot and krinkly. No complaints.

The sleeper for me is the ‘dragged through the garden’ Chicago dog. This type of dog is a craving that is hard to satisfy in Atlanta and they do an excellent job. The toppings are snappy and plentiful.

The milkshake/concretes are good if you like that sort of thing – it was for my wife. I’m sure plenty of people will enjoy them. Me, I wanted a Brooklyn Beer Shakemeister Ale but they don’t have their license yet.

This place will be polarizing, with the lines and herd mentality that certain foodies avoid. But at this price point, and for this craving, I don’t think there’s a better option in the area. There are likely thousands of people in line around the world right now who agree.

Shake Shack Atlanta

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This post doesn’t have any food photos I took, but it’s about shoyu ramen and let’s just say it looks something like this.

I ate it at Octopus Bar after the Outkast concert Saturday night which looked like this (I did take this photo.)

#outkastatlast

The show was everything I wanted it to be, and they played just about every great song, bass bumping me down memory lane. ATLiens was the first album I wore out in my little Nissan the first time I ever purchased a “system”, and as the whole audience and I sang out nearly every word with 3000 and Big Boi, I realized we all had a lot in common.

After the show ended near midnight, I was revved up and hungry, and considered Waffle House or Octopus Bar, arriving to the latter along with a number of post-concert revelers.

The Sichuan pig ears (braised, not crispy) in chili oil with cilantro is a really nice, pleasingly slimy dish with subtle heat. I’d order it, or share it with a friend, as a few bites of ears is all I really need.

But my favorite at Octopus Bar lately is their current iteration of ramen – shoyu, or soy sauce based. There are many styles of ramen of course, tonkotsu being the current darling. In the “artisan” ramen scene, I think shoyu and shio are likely the least represented, as they tend do be the lightest texture and least gluttonous, perhaps labeled as boring or one dimensional. But like many great things, balance is key, and Duane’s version exhibits both power and balance.

A deep, bitter black, it’s a broth that jars the taste buds and rewards those who spend time learning to love the seafoody flavors, which are further enhanced by the sheet of nori attached to the side of the bowl at the last minute. The strong flavor of soy is balanced by a fantastic dashi which shines through and is not overpowered by the typical salty nature of shoyu. The noodles are chewy and plentiful, accompanied by pickly menma, a half soy marinated egg, and a couple pieces of chashu for $11.

Eat it, and throw your hands in the aiiiyerrr

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China Village

Let me start – I was sad.

I tried to visit Gu’s Bistro for lunch last week and they are on vacation for a few weeks. I really wanted fish and tofu in hot oil or something else fiery and comforting.

I thought about going to Chong Qing but noticed there was another place even closer I’d never heard of – China Village Restaurant.

Much different than those two chili-head spots, they specialize in Northern Chinese dishes, with an American selection in the back of the menu, which the one employee I saw working there desperately tried to steer me towards. I asked what was good on the Chinese side of the menu. She pointed at a dish called pork with pepper with dried tofu. “OK, I’ll try that.”

She shook her head. “No, Chinese people like that.”

Fantastic. I pressed on. I will show her! Just watch!

Food comes out, she hands me a fork and starts to remove the chopsticks from my table.  I asked for them back, thank you very much. Just watch my two stick skillz as this round eye devours and loves this huge plate of…boring looking tofu with just a tiny bit of pork and bland peppers.

Yeah. I didn’t love it. Nothing wrong with it. Just bland, and it’s two meals of tofu strands. I left a few bites on the plate and she said, “oh, sorry you didn’t like it.”. God damnit, I ate more than I really wanted just to prove a point and I didn’t eat it all and now I’ve reaffirmed to her that I should have ordered General Tso’s.

As I pay I’m informed by the darling waitress, “Americans like Chinese food in sweet sauces.”

Yes ma’m, we like dumplings too. The pork versions here are good.

China Village

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New Lan Zhou |Chinatown Food Court

September 22, 2014

Quick bite – the spicy hand-pulled noodle soup with beef at New Lan Zhou in the Chinatown food court. I think it was $6.99, cash only. Really fantastic. What a great in-town Chinese food court, I don’t make it there enough. Noodles, Sichuan, Hong Kong style BBQ, and dim sum all represented.

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The Same But Different [Burgers & Chicken]

September 16, 2014

Each month I Evernote-file dozens of recipes and ideas to try, I purchase a handful of cookbooks a year, yet half my cooking is incited by my love of comforting fatty foods, grilled things, and fried stuff, especially chicken parts. If I see a fried chicken recipe with a minor twist, I must add it to my repertoire. […]

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Craft Izakaya

September 14, 2014

Craft Izakaya has opened in the new-new Krog St Market. It’s been rocking for a few weeks now, with some people making a dozen visits to my lowly one. I’ve been out of town and/or sick for nearly the last three weeks, so I’m eager to hit up some restaurants, and lately there are plenty of new options to […]

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Home Grown Comfy Chicken Biscuit

August 25, 2014

Maybe this is old hat to all you east side playerz, but I’ve only visited Home Grown three times now, and this past weekend was the first time I’ve heard of, seen, or tasted the comfy chicken biscuit. Let me set the scene – In bed, slightly hung over, aching for that perfect breakfast item […]

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The Atlanta Burger and Fry Index

August 12, 2014

For lunch today I had the Canoe burger, which on a value/taste matrix, may be the best burger and fry in town. It’s what I call a hotel burger. It’s an over-sized hockey puck of in-house ground beef, properly cooked to temp, served with all the fixings – charred onion, pickles, tomato, lettuce, and little […]

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