Thursday, February 5, 2015

Gu's Bistro - Doraville Georgia

Gu's Bistro is located in the old Burlington Warehouse shopping center on 5750 Buford Hwy NE just North of I285 in Doraville, just South of the intersection at McElroy Rd - if you hit Winter's Chapel you've gone too far. There's a Chickfila anchoring the shopping center on the Southern end (with a new Krispy Kreme) and a McDonald's on the Northern end - best bet is to pull in on the Chickfila side and park as the restaurant is in the Southern elbow of this long "L" shaped shopping center.




Prior to the last 5 years or so the most authentic Szechuan cuisine would be found at Little Szechuan - one of my favorites for over 15 years. Alas, Chef Kong suffered the fate of many restauranteurs as his multi-layered, very saucy food fell into disfavor forcing him to move closer to Atlanta and eventually selling to an investor who has now completely changed the menu and style of cooking. Hopefully the new management and chef will redefine that venerable establishment and bring it back from the brink. But I digress - even as Little Szechuan maintained the highest level of authenticity for close to 20 years, it was still more of a "schwag" Chinese restaurant, adapting Americanized Chinese food for the masses. With the continuing influx of Asian immigrants, the bounty of authentic ethnic food, especially on Buford Hwy, provides opportunities to sample flavors and styles of cooking only hinted at when visiting most Americanized Chinese restaurants. You're basically getting the washed-down, over-and-under spiced version of Chinese, and in particular Szechuan cooking, when visiting the like of Golden Panda or similar Chinese restaurants. It's with the advent of places like Man Chun Hong and Peter Chang's that you begin to get the real, intense and peppery flavors of genuine Szechuan cuisine. Gu's falls into this latter category and does it extremely well.



I've had occasion to sample many of the dishes at Gu's on several occasions. The service and presentation are impeccable and the flavors consistent along with large portions. I especially like that Gu's offers more than the traditional Asian beer selection with some local craft-in-bottles available. The menu has many color photos to help you decide - if you're not used to the more authentic Szechuan dishes - you'll find more wok saute and frying to the point of being dry - the spices in general provide an additional layer of flavor to the components (mostly chicken and pork with some beef and seafood), heavier on the garlic and herbal-side. There's also the liberal use of cilantro and spring onion and a few lamb dishes. You'll also find the use of the famous "flower pepper" - which provides a distinctly metallic flavor to food that leads to a numbing that can be distressing if you aren't prepared for it. It's an unusual effect that provides contrast and really expands the multi-layered sensations encountered when eating this style of food.

Some of my favorites:

Zhong Style Dumplings - these are steamed and more like the mandu my mom would serve - in a spicy chili sauce with sesame oil - quite delicious



Dry Fried Eggplant - lightly breaded and deep fried, these little morsels will keep you filling your plate.

Chili Szechuan Chicken - my favorite and something we always tend to order - sauteed "dry" chicken with tons of cut dried red pepper and garlic cloves. This will get your motor running....



Stir-fried Sno-pea leaves with garlic - think of this is your veggie side-dish as most of the dishes are more about the meats and spices.

Crispy Fish with Peanuts and Red Chili - loved this fish dish, and it has a few surprises...

Do yourself a favor when eating here and try the dishes that look good in the photos and don't rely on the traditional Chinese dishes. You'll be glad you did.



(Also published on Yelp)

-- John 

Gu's Bistro on Urbanspoon