A couple of weeks ago I read on Blissful Glutton that Jennifer Zyman had found a new Szechuan destination in the ATL, with the stoves helmed by none other than Chef Liu of Tasty China fame. I hurried on over there that week with some friends and enjoyed some dinner in the restaurant’s “are you sure there’s good food here?” space on Shallowford near Buford Highway. The inside actually kind of feels like a banquet/VA hall, slightly cafeteria-esque.
If you are unfamiliar with the Szechuan style of cooking, it’s quite different than most Chinese food I’ve had. I’m no expert, but here’s what I think I’ve gathered: they make use of these peppercorns that are slightly hot (not crazy hot) but they offer a unique sensation in your mouth and are especially interesting when you eat some of them and sip a cool glass of water. They also utilize a dry fried method. The meat is fried then pan tossed with tons of peppers, cilantro, and peppercorns. The result is a crispy yet dry texture, hardly greasy, and with quite a bit of flavor from the tossing with aforementioned accompaniments.
Pictured above is one of the chicken kabobs we ordered, based on Bliss’ recommendation. We also ordered the lamb. The lamb was especially chewy, but flavorful, and these were a nice start to the meal. As Bliss said, you better like cumin if you are ordering these!
We didn’t stray too far off the menu, ordering many of the same items I would order at Tasty China. The crispy beef (pictured above) was one of my favorites. I liked it better than the last time I ordered it at TC. The quality of the meat was a bit higher in my opinion, and the judicious use of cilantro was awesome. You can see all the red chiles in this dish. I asked our waitress if she eats them and she said sometimes she eats one of them.
Above is the fried eggplant. Nice presentation for sure, and the eggplant rocked. This is the best way to eat eggplant in my opinion – I hate it when it’s mushy.
Above is the one dish we got from the Northern China section of the menu (as apposed to the Szechuan section). This is the pork with bitter melon. Holy crap they were not lying about the “bitter” melon. The melon looked and had a similar texture like a green pepper, but the flavor was pure awfulness. I figured it was just our unappreciative American palates, and our waitress was quite curious to see how we liked it. She admitted that it was too bitter for her and was surprised we ordered it. For a moment there, our ineptitude was mistaken for experience.
Above is the Szechuan fish. Again, very similar to Tasty China, but I enjoyed this fish more than TC. I think there is less actual fish, but I enjoyed the flavor more with the copious amounts of cilantro. Definitely worth a try.
I look forward to going back again soon. Coincidentally, Jennifer just posted again today about Delicious Kabob on the Omnivore Atlanta CL page, and the fish in hot oil she pictures looks fantastic. She also provides a more full background about the owner/chef/and style, so go check her post out.
The service was so attentive and eager to please, it was borderline creepy. There was a guy in a wheelchair, who may have been the owner, who kept rolling slowly past our table, smiling, and asking us how it was. Every time we felt obliged to grin and quickly nod our heads. The place was so empty I think they were excited to have some new people in, and I think they noticed I was taking pictures and likely thought I was a good candidate to help spread the word about their place. Maybe that’s why they brought us out a free order of some of the best steamed buns I’ve ever had.
They were trying quite hard, and it’s obvious that they care about the food, and chef Liu is never in one place for a long time, so hurry on over to Delicious Kabob and give it a try.