posted on January 31, 2011 at 9:23 am
Like any cuisine, Sichuan lends itself to a variety of styles depending on the chef. Many of us first tasted its telltale ma-la (hot and numbing) flavors at Tasty China under the helm of Peter Chang. But it’s only appropriate that newcomers would step onto the scene to give us more choices and spicy variations. Gu’s Bistro (5750-A Buford Highway, Doraville, 770-451-8118) — one such newcomer — opened a little more than a month ago in the space that formerly housed Chong Qing Hot Pot.The man behind the spice is chef Gu, a purported Chengdu native who used to cook at Sichuan House in Johns Creek. Along with his daughter Yvonne, Gu has already cultivated quite the following among Atlantans, so the restaurant is usually packed at lunchtime.
The thing that makes Gu’s goods stand apart is how clean the food tastes. There’s seldom too much of any component be it spice, salt or MSG. The “traditional menu” is immense and there are normally a few specials on the chalkboard at the front of the restaurant. Yes, there’s an “American menu” for the unadventurous palates out there, but c’mon — why bother?
There’s a long list of small bites, each a little more mysterious than the one before it. A little advice: The names don’t always reflect what you’ll be eating, for better or worse. Case in point, the Salt & Pepper Hair Tail, which is chunks of strongly flavored — and very bony — fish, coated in a light batter and fried. Other starters are more straightforward, like the seriously chewy shreds of homemade beef jerky doused in red chili oil and smothered with white sesame seeds.
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