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Restaurants & Bars 5

Exploring Buford Hwy (Atlanta) on foot: Horrific experience redeemed by Chef Liu

Liana Krissoff | Nov 8, 200512:42 PM

I just want to add myself to the list of people getting all rhapsodic about Chef Liu (5221 Buford Hwy, inside the loop or bypass or whatever). It's a tiny, low-ceilinged, glass-walled place in the middle of the enormous Pinetree Plaza parking lot--which sounds awful, I know, but in fact it's a surprisingly pleasant environment for lunch or a late breakfast: cool breezes blowing in the sliding-glass-door entrance, efficient, no-nonsense service, friendly fellow diners. I had the sweet bean milk (steaming hot, served in a bowl, just slightly sweetened), then juicy Shanghai steamed pork buns and sour vegetable dumplings. The pork buns (like soup dumplings, really) were delicate and light, and juicy as advertised. The sour vegetable dumplings were also very refined, with a subtle but wholly satisfying filling. The dipping sauces that came with each were both nice and astringent, part of why the dumplings didn't make me feel over-full (I ate a lot) or weighed down, as these things often do. I wish I could've stayed all day and sampled the rest of the dumplings, buns, pancakes, and noodles on the brief but smartly focused menu. And the crullers other people were having looked amazing.

After lunch I crossed the seven-lane highway and walked a little ways down the road to the gigantic Asian-foods emporium Ranch 88, where I just wandered around, somewhat shell-shocked, for an hour or so, gawking and coveting. It's like all the big supermarkets in New York's Chinatown, plus all of Mott Street, under one roof--Atlantans are so lucky to have it nearby!

Any visitor to the city who loves food would do well to make these his first two stops--especially if he has a car at his disposal, but even if he doesn't.

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