Sunday, April 15, 2018

Harmony Vegetarian Restaurant - Chamblee Atlanta Georgia

You can find Harmony Vegetarian Restaurant at 4897 Buford Hwy Ste 109, Atlanta, GA 30341 in a shopping center just south of the crux of Buford Highway and Chamblee Tucker Rd, Southeastern quadrant. This shopping center is anchored by the venerable Hoa Binh Supermarket that contains a handful of restaurants worth trying, including Pho Bac, Penang and J's Mini Hot Pot. There's quite a bit of available parking, but these restaurants (and the market) do get quite busy so you may have to walk a bit.

Harmony is a vegan Chinese restaurant that features flavors that are a bit more authentic than you typical swag Amer-Chinese Panda Express - what makes it interesting is that most of the dishes are made using flavored tofu with beef, chicken and fish options. The food here is pretty good and offers up an alternative to eating meat-filled dishes so you don't feel so bad bringing your vegan friends and finding out there's not much on the menu they can eat. At Harmony it's all at least vegetarian and mostly vegan.

As for why your vegan friends would want dishes that taste like meat, that's more a question around why they are vegan. For instance, I have many friends that are culturally vegetarian where meat just isn't part of their diet - these meat-flavored tofu dishes for the most part just don't taste good to them. I always find it interesting when I come here with American vegans who just rave about the flavors and wolf down Harmony's dishes - seems a bit hypocritical, but who am I to judge? Eat what you like, I say.

On this occasion I showed up with friends from my weekly Buford Highway Crawl group - quite a few who don't normally attend showed up (several vegans in the group) so this was a treat for them. Some of the dishes we tried:

* Curry Pockets - these are fried dumplings that approximate samosas

* Steamed Shanghai Dumplings - these are a veggie version of a soup dumpling

* Beef with Broccoli - we ordered this spiced up which helped a lot

* Sliced Pork Szechuan Style - the flavors were good but the texture didn't quite make it for me.

* Ma Po Tofu - I ordered this dish extra spicy - it was hot but not super hot. I liked it quite a bit.

* Beef with Mixed Veggies - this was one of my favorite dishes and approximated beef the most

* Sesame Chicken - others liked this quite a bit but I thought it too sweet.

Service is very good here - it's obvious the restaurant has been open a long time and the owners really care about the dining experience. Everyone for the most part enjoyed the food and had a good time.

(also posted to Yelp)
Harmony Vegetarian Chinese Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, March 26, 2018

Crawfish Shack Seafood - Druid Hills - Emory - Atlanta Georgia

You can find Crawfish Shack Seafood at 4337 Buford Hwy Ste 170, Atlanta, GA 30341 in a small shopping center on the east side of Buford Highway. Parking is in a small lot out front - typically there's plenty in the evenings but during lunch it may get a bit full.

Crawfish Shack Seafood is one of a very popular trend in Vietnamese-Creole cuisine that makes tons of sense when you think about how these flavors compliment each other. This is some tasty spicy food that will get your mouth tingling and other parts heated up. I love, love this style of seafood goodness, which is clearly defined by the seafood boils but widened out a bit with fried items, fresh raw eats (oysters), creamy slaw and steamed/boiled veggies (broccoli and potatoes).

On this latest occasion I met up with my regular Buford Highway Restaurant Crawl group and quite a few people showed - seems they all wanted to try Crawfish Shack for the first time to again. We even had an appearance of our vegan member and she managed to have quite a bit to eat. 

Come here with the thought of having your arms elbow deep in steamed goodness and you'll do fine - don't wear anything nice as opening up some of these will get you covered is spatter. I particularly like the extra spicy everything boiled Shack-tastic Seafood platter (Cajun boiled snow crab, blue crab, crawfish, mussels, shrimp, corn, Andouille sausage and red potatoes) or the mixed Fried-Tastic Seafood platter (fried crawfish, shrimp, soft-shell crab fish (choice of catfish, lilapia, swai, red snapper or grouper) with fries and hush puppies. These are priced per person but you get a little break the more people you add. This last time I also splurged with a cup of gumbo and it was surprisingly good - next time I'm ordering a bowl. 

In all this was a great experience with plenty to gnaw on and great times had by all. I liked everything I tried and would recommend this place for someone new to this style of cooking. Service was quite good even with our large party - the people here are efficient and good about answering questions about the food (and what's vegan/non if that's a concern).

(also posted to Yelp)
Crawfish Shack Seafood Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Sabor Dominicano - Druid Hills - Emory - Atlanta Georgia

You can find Sabor Dominicano at 4186 Buford Hwy NE Ste M, Atlanta, GA 30345 in the same shopping center as Pho Dai Loi 2. This is just up the hill and north of Plaza Fiesta. Parking can be a bit of a challenge as there are several businesses that feed into the same lot - best to go on slightly off times. Late night Sabor becomes a disco, I believe as there's a DJ booth (but that may just be on the weekends) - something that's rather common in restaurants on Buford Highway, especially closer towards Atlanta.

I met a few friends as part of my Buford Highway Restaurant Crawl group - besides offering up some rather authentic Dominican cuisine, the restaurant has a pretty awesome buffet (1-4 I believe) - in the evenings it starts to wind down but for lunch there's some great eats at very reasonable prices. They typically have Bacalao (salted cod) and boiled yucca on the buffet. If you're in a group order the appetizer platter - you'll enjoy an assortment of flavors so you'll get to sample a lot of what Dominica has to offer.

The people here are really nice and good about describing the various dishes. My favorite time to come is during lunch after 1:00 - it's definitely a winner and you don't get stuck trying to find a parking space. I think everyone enjoyed the food quite a bit.

-- John

(Also posted to Yelp)
Sabor Dominicano Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Carnitas Michoacan - Druid Hills - Emory - Atlanta Georgia

You can find Carnitas Michoacan at 4166 Buford Hwy NE Ste 1050, Atlanta, GA 30345 about in the middle of the Plaza Fiesta shopping center/mall. Plenty of parking out front provided one of the frequent carnivals isn't taking up half the lot (even then there's space on the ends and other side).

John F and I hit this place Thursday night as part of our regular weekly Buford Highway Restaurant Crawl - this is a couple of shops over from Asian Pearl Buffet. This is your typical Latino restaurant where you order from large wall-mounted menus at the counter. After about 10 minutes you get your food hot, so there's really minimal service. I got the impression that the people working here aren't used to your typical American diners, but fortunately there are plenty of photos available to help you make your selections.

Carnitas are a particularly tasty version of roasted pork - the chunks of pork are slow roasted in lard until tender. I've had good and bad versions of this dish - I've read that it originated in the state of
Michoacán so I had high expectations. Unfortunately it appears that I've been jaded as the pork dish here (which is really reasonable, comes with rice, beans, corn tortillas and a drink for $10.49) was a bit dry - nothing like my favorite restaurant for this dish, Los Bravos (which serves huge chunks and a delicious roasted red pepper sauce). Other than the meal being fairly cheap and filling, I'd call the food here "average" and nothing special.

The restaurant was clean and well lit with only a handful of customers - we did get here at 8 which was near the usual closing time. The people behind the counter were very efficient and did a good job answering questions. I'm giving this place 3/5.

(also posted to Yelp)
Carnita's Michoacan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato