Dim Sum at Oriental Pearl

Dim Sum is always a good lunch choice when you have a group of 3-6 adventurous eaters. I love to visit Oriental Pearl on a Sunday morning, but have learned the hard way to come early, shortly before 11am to snag a table without a wait. While many of the items pictured are available on their regular evening menu, it’s just not the same. Oriental Pearl serves Dim Sum for lunch every day.

Oriental Pearl is located on New Peachtree at the Chinatown Mall (which has a great food court if you arrive and this restaurant is full).
Oriental Pearl is located on New Peachtree at the Chinatown Mall (which has a great food court if you arrive and this restaurant is full).
Servers with carts come by your table and you select what you want. They usually have one or two different items on each cart.
Servers with carts come by your table and you select what you want. They usually have one or two different items on each cart.
Close up of steam cart.
Close up of steam cart.

Dim Sum, 4

Top, sesame balls with red bean paste inside. Center, fried egg rolls.
Top, sesame balls with red bean paste inside. Center, fried egg rolls.
Steamed items from top, clockwise: sticky rice in lotus leaf, shrimp dumplings, minced pork dumplings, dipping sauce, fish balls.
Steamed items from top, clockwise: sticky rice in lotus leaf, shrimp dumplings, minced pork dumplings, dipping sauce, fish balls.
Steamed pineapple buns (a table favorite) and fried pork dumplings.
Steamed pineapple buns (a table favorite) and fried pork dumplings.
I've only seen this style of rolling grill at Oriental Pearl.
I’ve only seen this style of rolling grill at Oriental Pearl.
Sweet tofu has the consistency of pudding and is served with a simple syrup, fragrant with ginger.
Sweet tofu has the consistency of pudding and is served with a simple syrup, fragrant with ginger.
Steamed buns with port BBQ inside and long dumplings.
Steamed buns with port BBQ inside and long dumplings.

Dim Sum, 11

These are made from lotus roots and I love the odd consistency, but most of the table didn't.
These are made from lotus roots and I love the odd consistency, but most of the table didn’t.
Pork in tofu "skin", braised pork ribs, pork dumplings.
Pork in tofu “skin”, braised pork ribs, pork dumplings.
My attractive table mates!
My attractive table mates!
I thought this was shrimp toast, but it turned out to be whole shrimp baked in tofu.
I thought this was shrimp toast, but it turned out to be whole shrimp baked in tofu.
Egg custard, the traditional end to a meal.
Egg custard, the traditional end to a meal.

Sunday lunch at Pho Dai Loi #2

What’s the perfect lunch for a dreary Sunday? Vietnamese PHO! And one of my favorite Atlanta spots to get it is Pho Dai Loi #2. The soup comes piping hot and fast. The place is clean and the prices spectacular. What more could you want to chase away the blues? Want to know more about Vietnamese food? Check out my Introduction to Vietnamese Cuisine, available on Kindle. There’s even a bonus section about where to get it in Atlanta.

Located on Buford Highway in the Saigon Plaza, near Dresden Rd. If you go, you won't be the only non-Asian in the place, but you can still count on authentic cuisine.
Located on Buford Highway in the Saigon Plaza, near Dresden Rd. If you go, you won’t be the only non-Asian in the place, but you can still count on authentic cuisine.
Need a jumpstart on the morning? Try a café sua da, Vietnamese iced coffee. Some assembly is required. It starts with finely ground, French roast that drips directly into the cup. Make sure to stir well so you mix the sweetened condensed milk into the coffee before pouring it over ice. Rocket fuel on a dark morning.
Need a jumpstart on the morning? Try a café sua da, Vietnamese iced coffee. Some assembly is required. It starts with finely ground, French roast that drips directly into the cup. Make sure to stir well so you mix the sweetened condensed milk into the coffee before pouring it over ice. Rocket fuel on a dark morning.
The rest of the meal comes quickly. This is the small bowl of dac biet pho (mixed soup) and contains eye of round, roast pork, tripe, tendon and rice noodles in a rich broth. The rare eye of round is thinly sliced and will finish cooking in the hot broth.
The rest of the meal comes quickly. This is the small bowl of dac biet pho (mixed soup) and contains eye of round, roast pork, tripe, tendon and rice noodles in a rich broth. The rare eye of round is thinly sliced and will finish cooking in the hot broth. The “greens” on the left are added a little at a time to improve the soup’s flavor. They include sawleaf, Thai basil, fresh mung bean sprouts, jalapeño and lime.

 

 

First look at Sobban, Korean/Southern

Sobban is located on Clairmont in Decatur. Photo courtesy of SpatialDrift.com
Sobban is located on Clairmont in Decatur. Photo courtesy of SpatialDrift.com

I’ve driven by this place once a week for a month and each time I thought, “How can this place be both Korean AND Southern?”

Sobban opened in October in a former pizza place near the Veteran’s Hospital and North Druid Hills.  I’d already committed to meeting a friend there Friday night before I saw the AJC blog post about it, which was favorable. According to the website, the name means “A Small Ornate Wooden Table Used for Humble Meals During the Lee Dynasty.” -The Korean Version of the Everyday Southern Family Table or TV Dinner Tray.” It is a causal setting, done iwith high quality woods. It’s also descriptive to call it a diner. The place is small. About half of the indoor seating is communal, including a central table and a “bar” across the front. Outside is a nice patio, but that wasn’t really an option on this rainy, November evening.

My friend and I showed up shortly before 6pm and snagged the last two open seats at the center table. We joined a friendly, congenial group and I got numerous hints of what to order next time. The Chef de Cuisine and Co-owner Jiyeon Lee must have been back in the kitchen, but we were waited on personally by Co-owner Cody Taylor. They also own Heirloom Market BBQ.

We started with the Kim Chi deviled eggs. Excellent, not too strong in flavor. The garnish of black sesame seeds and popped rice added flair. Over all, presentation was excellent.
We started with the Kim Chi Deviled Eggs. Excellent, not too strong in flavor. The garnish of black sesame seeds and popped rice added flair. Presentation was excellent on all dishes.
My friend ordered the Bibimbop, a traditional Korean mixed ingredients over rice. To appeal to American tastes it is served in a simple bowl (as opposed to a heated stone bowl) and the egg on top was lightly hardboiled instead of raw.
My friend ordered the Bibimbop, a traditional Korean dish with mixed ingredients served over rice. To appeal to American tastes it is served in a simple bowl (as opposed to a heated stone bowl) and the egg on top was lightly hardboiled instead of raw. There’s additional sauce and a side of kim chi.
I chose the chef's favorite, braised cod. It was a delicate, light item and while it was good, I would have preferred something more spicy.
I chose the chef’s favorite, Braised Cod. It was a delicate, light entrée and perfectly cooked. While it was good, I was in the mood for something more spicy and should have ordered accordingly.

Overall, I’d say we were impressed with the place and pleased with the prices. I’m excited to try additional items on the menu, especially the KFC (Korean Fried Chicken Wings) and the Barbeque Spare Ribs. I also need to leave room for the Bingsu Korean Shaved Ice Desserts! Word of warning, the place fills up fast. Come early.

Sobban Southern/Korean Diner

1788 Clairmont Rd.
Decatur, GA 30033
(678) 705-4233

Hours:

Tue-Sat 11:30 am – 2:30 pm

Tue-Thu 5 pm – 9:30 pm

Fri-Sat 5 pm – 10:30 pm

Peruvian chicken in Decatur, La Brasas

La Brasas has no indoor seating, just some iron patio furniture outside. With the cool weather this week it was an easy place to sit and eat, but most of their business is take-out.
La Brasas has no indoor seating, just some iron patio furniture outside. With the cool weather this week it was an easy place to sit and eat, but most of their business is take-out.

You can get decent rotisserie chicken at most grocery stores these days, but there’s something special about the Peruvian chicken at La Brasas, a hole-in-the-wall, red brick shack on a Decatur side street. The bird always comes out juicy and tender. You have to eat it with your hands for a true experience! In addition to perfectly cooked chicken (just $3.99 for a quarter, dark meat) the corn on the cob is very good (as explained to me by a preschooler who said he and his mother just couldn’t wait for daddy to get there and had to go ahead an eat their dinner).  What I love is their cold potatoes with a spicy, cheese sauce. The Huancaina Sauce (pronounced: wan-KAY-eena) is the perfect foil to bland, sliced potatoes. It’s garnished with a single black olive and half a hard boiled egg. It’s really filling. I found this recipe that looks close to what I’ve tasted.

La Brasas, 2

It’s hard to beat a little red brick, hole-in-the-wall restaurant like this. Great prices, Great food. Nice folks. It’s a limited menu and don’t expect any “atmosphere.” Most people call in a to-go order because the only dining is on the front patio. Parking in the back.

La Brasas

310 East Howard Avenue

Decatur, GA 30030

 

P’cheen, a “backpocket” restaurant

I love to explore new places to dine. But sometimes you want a sure thing. I’ve mentioned before that I have a few restaurants that I keep in my head where I KNOW I can take someone and impress them with a meal. I consider them “backpocket” restaurants–places I can always count on. P’cheen International Bistro, in the Old Fourth Ward, is one of these. The food is great, the service excellent, it’s a moonshine bar, and they’ve got DJs spinning music later in the evenings.

Friday night a friend and I were going to Dad’s Garage for their final weekend in Inman Park. I left the car on the Inman/O4W Bridge (just over the Beltline) so we could park just once. Dinner was spectacular, as always. Thanks Alex.

We started with the Pork Belly Nigiri, a creation of Alex Freidman. Tasty, tender. You could make a meal just on these babies. The new menu featuring small plates makes it easy to chose several things, though.
We started with the Pork Belly Nigiri, a creation of Alex Freidman. Tasty, tender. You could make a meal just on these babies. The new menu featuring small plates makes it easy to chose several things, though.
I have the Korean Dip sandwich with au jus. A great deal at just $8, piled with meat. The kitchen hides a few jalapeños in there, so look out!
I have the Korean Dip sandwich with au jus. A great deal at just $8, piled with meat. The kitchen hides a few jalapeños in there, so look out!
My dining partner had the steak of the day: dry aged (in house!) Rib Eye, topped with locally grown chanterelles and a wine sauce along with house fries. I couldn't talk her into a moonshine cocktail, but I had one.
My dining partner had the steak of the day: dry aged (in house!) Rib Eye, topped with locally grown chanterelles and a wine sauce along with house fries. I couldn’t talk her into a moonshine cocktail, but I had one.
Dessert: bacon ice cream sandwich, between French toast slices and toped with maple syrup!
Dessert: bacon ice cream sandwich, between French toast slices and toped with maple syrup!