Sunday, August 10, 2014

Staycation: Exploring the Changes in the Local Food Landscape

By Jeff Burns

            “The best laid plans….”  Our plan to have one lunch per week in a new restaurant or to try a new ethnic cuisine was a good plan, but life got in the way, and we haven’t quite made it each week.  However, we still managed to add some new favorites to our list. Here are a few find from our hunt for the food of a modern land.

            First up:  Villains Wicked Heroes.  Every menu item carries the name of a pop culture villain, from Lucy Van Pelt (Cajun boiled peanuts appetizer of course) to Bluto (a spinach salad) and Goldfinger (a hot brown sandwich hero).  The menu is a lot of fun, and the food is even better.  I enjoyed my favorite Bond villain, Oddjob, and my wife had a Mumm-Ra.

             Second, we visited Sobban- Korean Southern Diner in Decatur, the brainchild of a couple with another very successful restaurant, Heirloom Barbecue.  He’s southern, she’s south Korean, and they discovered that their cultures share many things in common, like a love for barbecue, pork, and pickles.  At Sobban, they’ve masterfully blended the two into many delicious dishes.  We started with a kimchi deviled egg and okara hushpuppies with kimchi  remoulade as appetizers.  (Not okra, okara is a soy pulp, a byproduct of making tofu) Our entrees were a bulgogi beef burger and a fried bologna sandwich – you guessed it, with kimchi – featuring bologna made in house.  It was all great.          

 Finally, we returned to Buford Highway, the most eclectic area of Atlanta.  Within sight at any time might be a Korean, an Indian, a Peruvian, a Mexican, and a Vietnamese restaurant.  We went to the Oriental Pearl, a Chinese dim sum restaurant.  We’ve eaten dim sum at other restaurants, but this was first time at Oriental Pearl.  If you’re not familiar with dim sum, it’s a Cantonese style of cooking bite sized servings on small plates, and servers wheel carts loaded with the offerings around the room.  You tell them what you want, they mark your bill, and the cashier tallies your cost by adding up the plates.  Foods include lots of dumplings and buns stuffed with shrimp, pork, tofu, vegetables, or some combination thereof, squid, chicken feet, and various vegetables.  Most dishes are steamed or fried.  It was a great experience, and I think we’ve found a new favorite dim sum place.

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