Ethnic.City: Cafe 101

posted on July 12, 2011 at 6:41 am

Reopening a restaurant with a new owner and chef while keeping the same name, look, and style of cuisine is a risky proposition no matter where you fall on the dining spectrum. That’s exactly what the owner of the “new” Cafe 101 (5412 Buford Highway, Doraville, 770-458-8399) has done. Once the darling of critics and food lovers alike, the old Cafe 101 — whose reviews still grace the restaurant’s entrance — received a less-than-stellar health inspection score and, after months of decreased quality, closed. The new Cafe 101 is led by a Taiwanese chef/owner who hails from Los Angeles. Though much of the menu seems familiar — including the handful of Szechuan dishes — this incarnation’s energy has clearly been renewed.

The smaller plates hold the most interest. One such dish, the Taiwanese-style fried chicken, is virtuously greaseless with bite-sized pieces of white- and dark-meat chicken encased in a batter as light as tempura and fried to a beautiful crisp. A little dish of ground chili with the tiniest hint of smoke arrives alongside the chicken to scatter on for a little heat. Add it in increments or you’ll be coughing for a good five minutes. Pork wontons swimming in a sour-and-spicy bowl of sauce are tender, fresh-tasting and remain intact when plucked from the small bowl with chopsticks. Less successful or desirable dishes like the “green pea cake” — a gelatinous white substance made, chilled and formed into cubes, then draped in a spicy sauce — sound interesting enough, but fall flat.

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Café 101 on Urbanspoon

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