One of the things that I have really enjoyed about becoming a food blogger in Atlanta has been the opportunities I’ve had to meet and converse with some of the other members of the local foodie community. For the record, I too am not a huge fan of the word “foodie”, but there isn’t a better alternative yet….though I do like “gastronaut”, it hasn’t caught on yet.
This past week was another one of those opportunities to finally put a face with a blog, thanks to EatBufordHighway who organized a blogger “EatUp” at the food court of Atlanta Chinatown in Chamblee. If you want to see more comprehensive set of pictures of the evening, I’d recommend checking out his post. He took more pictures than I did and his provide a better view of the overall experience. For the sake of this post, I will only focus on my food.
Joining me for this local food-nerd get together were: OctoSquid, EatBufordHighway, FoodNearSnellville, and SpoonfedAtlanta. Thankfully, despite the fact that he is by far the best photographer out of the group, SpoonFed didn’t bring a camera with him. Otherwise, I have a feeling all of our shots would have looked that much more amateur by comparison.
Having never been to Chinatown before, I was really looking forward to this. As I have begun to follow EatBufordHighway’s posts, I have come to realize how much high quality ethnic food I have been ignoring in his neck of the woods. If you have never been to Chinatown before, I recommend you have your expectations in line before arriving. If you are the type of person that gets turned off by a less than swanky interior, you may not love the place. But if you are the type of person that really enjoys “authentic” ethnic cuisine at an affordable price, regardless of decor, it is worth the trip.
I was stricken with order-paralysis by the number and variety of options of food, compounded by the fact that 90% of the menus are in Hanzi (Chinese). Thankfully, most establishments here have either a picture menu or an English translation, which made things slightly easier. Because I still couldn’t decide on just one dish, I got two, fully expecting to share at least one of them with the group. I wound up eating them both, in their entirety. Yeah, I’m a fat ass, what of it?
My first stop was China Kitchen, where I got the Shanghai Juicy Steamed Pork Buns.
These were great…I wasn’t sure what they meant by “juicy” until I attempted to pick one up with my chopsticks, tearing a hole in the bun. All of the liquid from the pork and the steaming process pools up inside the bun, causing the filling to marinate in its own juices and enhances the flavor. This was the dish I intended to share….and didn’t.
EDITOR’S NOTE – Thanks to TFA for clarifying…these are apparently also known as “Soup Dumplings”. What I mistook for the “juice” of the pork is actually soup stock that is frozen into the meat prior to steaming.
Next up was the Chong Qing Sliced Pork Belly from Chong Qing Hot Pot. Though I love pork belly, and will order it whenever given the chance, I don’t think I had ever had a traditional Chinese presentation of it before. So, naturally, I jumped all over this one.
The pork was good, as one would expect any pork belly to be, but I can’t say that this was my favorite I have had. The flavor was good, but was a little too heavy on the soy, which translated into being too salty. If you ask anyone that has eaten the food that I cook before, you’d know that it takes a lot of salt for something to be too salty for my palate. Also, my personal preference is to have some crispy skin on my pork belly, which this lacked. I enjoyed it, but probably won’t order it again when I go back.
All in all, it was a great way to spend a meal and I really enjoyed meeting everyone. Most of my friends indulge me when I nerd out about food, so it is always nice to be surrounded with folks that are just as passionate about it as I am. I am looking forward to the next time we can all get together, and I hope more of our Atlanta foodie brethren are able to attend.
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