When I got a note late last week from the same gentleman that nine years ago casually mentioned that there was an award winning chef cooking Sichuan food somewhere up near the Big Chicken in Marietta at Tasty China, it didn’t take long for four of us to zip over to the Pleasant Hill/Steve Reynolds area to check out TJ House and their Taiwan and Japanese menu.
The chef is Mr. Chang, just arrived from Los Angeles, who is joined by his very sweet and pregnant wife in running things in a just right sized newly decorated modern room. No sooner had we sat down than a familiar face popped up by the table—Trannh, who we’ve known from Bo Bo Garden and Golden House during the Danny Ting era.
‘You will like this’ said Trannh. ‘More healthful. Less oil. Less salt’. Would that I could speak an Asian language as well as Trannh speaks English.
In fact the food that we were served was startlingly delicate, precisely flavored and cooked as if a classically trained Japanese chef well schooled in modern cuisine had taken on the Taiwanese/Sichuan oeuvre. And not salt blasted so that jeans and rings protest for the following three days. Yet ma la and hot and numbing wherever appropriate.
In two visits in the space of four days, dinner and then lunch, we’ve only tried a small portion of the menu from the Taiwan side. Four cold dishes: Taiwan Beef Roll, Taiwan Duck (tea smoked), Taiwan Chicken Roll and Beef and Bally (aka Husband and Wife). From the mains we’ve tried Taiwan Squid (hot pot), Basil Chicken (aka 3 cup Chicken), Ma Po Tofu, Snow Pea Leaves with Garlic, Cod with Fried Bean Curd Sauce and Halibut Collar. There are some pictures on the web site and facebook that help.
The problem is, of all these dishes, I want to re-order every one except maybe the Halibut Collar which was flavorful but understandably difficult to eat unless you pick it up and slurp the bones. If you prefer lobster rolls to a whole lobster the Halibut Collar is not for you. I don’t know how I’m going to get through the rest of the menu, especially the Japanese grill side.
Sigh. I’m not as young as I once was.
It's BYOB for now.
(Kroger shopping center corner of Steve Reynolds and Old Norcross Road)
3780 Old Norcross Rd. Suite 113 Duluth, GA 30096
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