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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Atlanta's Best Chinese Restaurant - Gu's Bistro

Warning:  The following may be inappropriate for children under the age of 13 or those adverse to the multicultural trappings of Buford Highway

I know, it looks like a total shit show on the outside
Gu's Bistro on Buford Highway has picked up quite a cult following.  And with good cause, because it is absolutely, hands down and whatever poor cliche I can come up with THE BEST CHINESE FOOD IN ATLANTA.  It maintains total street cred by it's Buford Highway Location in a totally sketchy strip mall.  And that's being generous to sketchy strip malls.

But Shockingly Nice on the Inside
We have been looking long and hard for a new favorite Chinese place since Chopstix in Buckhead closed on Leap Day, February 29th, 2012.  This journey is part of the reason I started this blog.  We are doing gods work here at The Dry Rub!

Those who know me and my inner culinary circle went through a difficult time on that leap day.  My friend Jeff actually pushed back the closing of his house to dine at Chopstix on their last day.  We don't take these things lightly.  Some people may call that pathetic, I call it dedication.

Then we had the dumplings at Gu's and this happened.

AND THE LORD SAID TO MOSES, "Taketh I-285 to Buford Highway North and go about 1/2 mile and you'll find this slice of heaven on your left"

Chinese food has so much tradition, The Shroud of Turin was found to have remnants of soy sauce near its mouth
The appetizers are in(f*cking)credible.  The Zong Style Dumplings are hands down the best I've ever had.  The sauce is unique and the dumplings melt in your mouth.  I challenge you to find some better dumplings.  I could eat these 5x a week (and I may try).

The Chengdu Cold Noodles are both sweet and spicy and may be even better than the dumplings.  Jeff from the DR4 is in agreement.  Fair warning, both of these dishes do pack a punch.

The 2nd best export from Chengdu
The Dan Dan Noodles are both hot and spicy.  The meat on top is a great touch and, more importantly, a tasteful touch.

Dan thought these were so nice, we had to name it twice
On my initial trip, I ordered the Shrimp with Garlic Sauce.  The garlic sauce was full of taste.  (Though the Chicken w/ Garlic Sauce didn't taste as good). That's when I knew I had to come back and try to order as many items as I could.  So the next time I ordered Shredded Pork with Black Fungus. And the mushrooms were very tasty.

Today we had the infamous Tea Smoked Duck (Bone In).  And shockingly it's a duck smoked in tea. The meat is extremely tender and the smokey taste unique for duck.  Now if you are a marginal fan of duck, I still implore you to order this.  It is such a unique dish where the duck falls right off of the bone.

Smoked to Perfection
It was the best smoked thing since this:

This little gem has become such a cult classic, they are opening up a dumpling shop at the new Krog Market in Inman Park.  Not a bad transformation from Buford Highway shopping mall to the hipster Krog Market.

Young Bill Gates "lost" his lunch money many times I bet
It's much like Bill Gates going from High School Tool to the countries top Philanthropist hangin' with Bono.

Only in America does this happen
I will tell you that the "Americanized" menu is mediocre.  The Kung Pao Chicken and Lo Mein is fairly pedestrian, but you don't come here to play it safe.  Order off the Authentic Menu and let them make some of the decisions for you.

And if you go, go deep. At least 4 people and get the dumplings and Chendgu Cold Noodles.  Then split a few "authentic" main courses.  I also like the fact they acknowledge that the Chinese are horrendous at dessert so they threw in the towel and offer Ben and Jerry's.

Today's Footnote:  If you like rock music from any era, I implore you to give the new-ish Queens of the Stone Age's album ....Like Clockwork a listen.  It is true art.  Josh Homme continues to be on of our most underrated musicians and I'm not sure why.  I've always been a fan of QOTSA, but this album is the perfect culmination of all of their previous offerings.  You're welcome.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Chai Pani Decatur- Indian Street Food

Warning:  The following may be inappropriate for children under the age of 13 and those with sensitive stomachs

We finally made it to Chai Pani after planning and replanning this trip.  The problem is we went prior to going to the PGA Tour Championship.

Note to self, do NOT ever eat spicy Indian
 food when you know you are going to be walking around in 90 degree weather and drinking beers for the next five hours.  But, as Dan said, once I get something in my head, there is no talking me out of if.

But I digress.  Chai Pani lives up to the hype and was absolutely delicious.  It's a great venue and even a greater value.  The decor is modern, but casual in a very non pretentious way.

Believe the Hype
Loved the Bollywood pics adorning the walls.  In true hipster restaurant fashion, you order up front and they bring the food to your table (except on weekends).  The Huffington Post named Chai Pani one of the Top 10 Cheap Eats Restaurants in the Country!

The literal translation is "Bring Tums"
We started with the infamous Kale Pakoras.  It's kale fritters made with a curried chick pea batter.  LOVED the green chutney as well.  This may be in my top 5 appetizers now.

All Hail the Kale.  If all else happens to fail, order the Kale.  (I'm here all week)
We ordered three main dishes.  The Sloppy Jai was great.  It's spiced ground lamb hash with that green chutney again and sweet yogurt.  Great lunchtime item.  It's got a kick to it.  They do remind me a little of the sliders at Hankook/ Yumbi as well.

Sloppy and satisfying.  They should have named it the Lindsay Lohan
My buddy BMac got the Thali with Chicken.  This was both authentic and satisfying.  Almost as good as my man Ajay's mothers Thali.  

And then the Kathi Kabab Roll.  This dish has both the Chicken and the Egg for protein, though I'm not sure which came first.  They also use Tandori and Cilantro spices.  Though I liked the Sloppy Jai better.

Not Surprisingly, Martinez went with the dish that most resembled a burrito
For just $.99 more you can get a side of the Daal.  Do it.  It's like a chicken broth on steroids, but without the needles.

Not to be confused with former Dodgers Pitcher, Omar Daal

Overall, Chai Pani lived up to the hype I've been hearing about.  If you find yourself in Decatur make sure you have an appetite and give it a shot.  Just don't exercise afterwards.  Oh and bring Tums.

Today's Footnote #1:  The PGA Tour Championship at East Lake is a great event.  They don't let many spectators in, so it is one of the best spectator events in all of sports.  If you ever get a chance to go, do it.  It's right in East Atlanta, so it's extremely convenient.  

But whatever you do, don't walk around with Indian Spices burning up your insides.

East Lakes 17th Green
Final Footnote:  Cadamom Hill is on Scoutmob!  If you want a great upscale Indian Restaurant at a discount, this is your chance!  This is one of the best meals in Atlanta.  I implore you to try it (and get the egg appam with shrimp for an appetizer)  

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Grindhouse Killer Burgers

Warning:  The following may be inappropriate for children under the age of 13 and those adverse to eating in converted gas stations

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Grindhouse is one of my favorite "go to" destinations.  Somehow I have been remiss in giving them a review.  I did an extensive review on their new Villains Wicked Heroes sandwiches before them!

Grindhouse also made The Dry Rubs Final Four "Best Burger in Atlanta" contest!  They beat out The Vortex for that distinction, which I took a lot of flack for. People said the the established Vortex deserved it more since they have become an Atlanta Institution.  I call bullsh*t, Grindhouse is just a better product.

I view them more in the way of how people felt The Rolling Stones were just a Beatles knock off.  I think they may have outgrown that shadow.  And somehow Keith Richards lives to tell about it.
Son, long after you and I are no longer of this world, this guy will still be around doing drugs and womanizing.  God bless him.

Or that the Stone Temple Pilots were basically a Pearl Jam cover band.  Have these people heard Interstate Love Song?
These guys did enough drugs and sold enough albums to have total street cred.  But better than Pearl Jam?  Nope, but they stand on their own.

They also said the Foo Fighters were purely riding the coattails of Nirvana, which initially may have been true, but the Foo's have long since emerged from Nirvana to become the ambassadors to Rock n' Roll.
Who knew the young and hyper drummer was a genius in his own right?
The Foo's can cover the hell out of some tunes as well.

Now that I have gotten way off track, let's get back to Grindhouse.  The beauty and genius of Grindhouse is that it can be everything to everybody.  My children LOVE it.  I have had business lunches here.  Hell I've had drinking lunches here and it works for all.  Not too many places can say that.

I would highly recommend you start out with the Cheesy Poofs, fried pimento cheese nuggets with an asian dipping sauce.  Not exactly gluten free, but worth the damage.

Poofs that are cheesy
Their burgers come in many different styles.  I am partial to these:

YANKEE STYLE with bleu cheese, thick cut bacon, grilled onions and lettuce.  This is my standby.  Is there anything more american than adding meat to meat?  I think not John Cougar Mellencamp.  Now go back to smoking your Marlboro's and drinking your Budweiser.  Carry on America.

APACHE STYLE with pepper jack cheese, grilled onions, new mexico green chiles and lettuce.  When I really want to punish myself, this is what I go with.  I better not have to work after this or be around humans in general.  Trust me on this one.  But man, the flavors are insane.
Tonto has nothing on this Apache
And if you really hate yourself?  Like in a Miley Cyrus type of insane self loathing?  Get the Crinkle Cut Fries with the bacon and blue cheese sauce.
This Cyrus family is starting to make the Jackson's and Kardashian's appear functional.
And for the encore?  Grindhouse has handspun milkshakes that aren't loaded for the kids and are delicious.  Then they offer "Boozy Milkshakes" that can make for an interesting time.

Here is a listing of their Boozy Milkshake offerings:

EL DUDERINO- coffee shake, kahlua, pinnacle whipped cream vodka

STIMULUS PACKAGE- oreo shake, whynatte (coffee+energy), peppermint liquer (100 proof) (I would call this the pregame drink)

PUDDIN’ OUT- vanilla shake, banana liquer, pinnacle cake vodka, ‘nilla wafers

BOOTY SHAKE- peach shake, peach liquer, jack daniels tennessee honey

BERRY SPRINGER- strawberry shake, raspberry liquer, pinnacle berry vodka

MONKEY WRENCH- peanut butter chocolate malt, banana liquer, pinnacle chocolate vodka (my personal favorite)

They also offer many beers from Pabst to Sweetwater to Sapporo.  It's truly a one size fits all establishment.

The bottom line is that you will not find a more fun place to clog your arteries than Grindhouse.  Great atmosphere, great food, great bar and great shakes.  

Today's Footnote:

It may be a while to the next entry.  I have a boys trip coming up that will be documented since I will be in Wisconsin most of the time.  Brats and Beers for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Then the DR4 is going to Rumi's Kitchen, which I am looking forward too.

Hopefully before that I can sneak in a Gu's and/ or Chai Pani comprehensive meal.  Both have been elusive.

I am also toying with a best Taco in Atlanta tournament.  Please let me know your thoughts.