Not your standard Chinese food

3 Jan

Chef Liu is definitely one of the rare gems found in the crowded and diverse neighborhood of Buford Highway. Yes. Another Chinese restaurant but one to add to your list of places to visit. You may feel a bit crowded with the lunch crowd, families with young children and constant movement, but waiting for a table is worth it.

Far from a P.F. Chang’s, Chef Liu has a great deal more authentic choices to offer. The people flocked in for a casual dining experience and great Chinese food. I thought this place was going to be just like any other Chinese restaurant but, found myself pleasantly surprised to be surrounded with a mix of diners from different backgrounds and that usually a good sign that the food is top notch.
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As soon as we sat down to check out the menu, we were given a fresh pot of green tea. We ordered a bamboo shoot and chicken soup, but what really kicked off the dining experience was the Leek Pie. Never had I tasted such a wonderful mix a chopped leeks, green onions, rice noodles, and bits of pork inside a lightly browned pastry. The taste was clean and had a hint of salt and oil. Eating it was like chewing warm vegetable confetti that really spurred my appetite.
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Next was something new to me: Shanghai Juicy Steam Pork Buns. Never make the mistake of trying to bite one of these in half. You will end up wearing it. Think about a pillowy, tiny balloon loaded with bold soup flavor. The bun itself is thin and chewy but disappears as the burst of soup fills your mouth. The minced pork was soft and a added a mild meatiness to not overpower the comepleteness of the bun.
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Another common favorite was the Pork Pan Fried Dumplings. These dumplings are by far the best fried dumplings I’ve ever had. Completely handmade and totally different from what you would see at a Chinese buffet or other upscale restaurant—the dough is a bit thicker than most and lightly browned on the bottom. I hate flimsy, easily broken dumplings, but the dough vaguely reminded me a delicious pastry. The pork inside was rolled and mixed with green onion and was velvety filling the complete inside of the dumpling. Ten aren’t enough. How could I have missed this for so long?
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For me, the highlight of the experience of Chef Liu was the Chicken Fried Rice. I know what you’re thinking. How could this be? It’s just rice. This fried rice was regular Chinese fried rice flavored with more than the “normal” amount of soy sauce, slices of soft white chicken meat, scrambled egg, and green onions. I’m so used to the regular fried rice we have (in Columbus, GA) being light soy sauced tossed nonchalantly with frozen carrots and peas along with bits of chicken and too much egg. This was seriously just a delightful interplay of flavors done entirely well. The focus was the rice and accompanied by the other ingredients. Not just another order of fried rice quickly to be served to the consumer.

My experience overall was great. I like being around food places that are cheap, loaded with people, and food for all. Not forgetting to mention simple. Simple is always key. And Chef Liu has done that. Simple dishes done the right way. However, Chef Liu has done more than that. This place has brought me back to a time where gathering with my once together family huddled in a small, humble, unfranchized Chinese restaurant to get more than our fill of delicious yet simple food at extremely affordable prices.

This post is brought to you by a dear friend of mine who goes by the name “Cookies.” During Cookies’ most recent visit, we checked out Chef Liu on Buford Highway followed by dessert at Sweet Hut.

Chef Liu
5283 Buford Highway Northeast
Doraville, GA 30340

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