You can find La Mei Zi Asian Bistro at 5150 Buford Hwy, Ste C-310, Doraville, GA 30340 in the Asian Square shopping center, towards the back left when facing the anchor, Asian Supermarket from Buford Highway. My next several reviews will focus on all the restaurants currently in this square as my Buford Highway Clawr group hits each. For the uninitiated, the square is home of the Doraville location of Sweet Hut which most will recognize. There's generally plenty of parking out front of each business and overflow contained in the main market's parking, the exception is Sweet Hut which gets very crowded.
From my limited experience, I consider La Mei Zi one of the best Taiwanese restaurants in Atlanta - this is garnered from several visits and considering many menu items. The menu transitions to the spicy side of Chinese cooking (most would call it Sichuan). I've had many of the appetizers and for the uninitiated would recommend trying the Pork Belly Buns (Bao) or the Sichuan Beef Rolls. But I digress - on this particular night I attended with a small group from my regular Buford Highway Clawr group hosted by my friend John F. The restaurant is on the smallish side (as are most in Asian Square) with glass windows along the front and tables extending towards the back. It's rather utilitarian but very clean. There's also a rather large carving of what I assume is a napa cabbage to great visitors (not sure why it's there but it's very striking).
Once inside you're greeted by some awesome servers who are used to answering questions from dumb Americans - I consider this a boon as some of the restaurants along Buford Highway will run you ragged due to a lack of communication. The staff here is phenomenal even exchanging some jokes with the table and keeping things light and rolling along.
We started with the following:
* Steamed Pork Dumpling - I would call these good but nothing special, still a nice way to ease into anything after and provide a bit of rest when you're hitting very spicy food.
* Braised Beef and Scallion with Hoisin Sauce in Roll - I loved these - think of a sliced beef burrito but with more of a chapati or roti texture. This is actually more subtle in flavor than it sounds.
* Oyster Omelet - I think we ordered this more because it was unusual than anything else - I'm not sure if it would be considered breakfast food or what but it was surprisingly good and unusual.
For our main dishes:
* Pork Belly Sichuan Style - the pork belly is thin sliced and swimming in red gravy with just enough heat from the sichuan pepper. I expected something crispier in the pork belly which is cooked soft and more delicately so be aware of that texture.
* Salt and Pepper Calamari - this was really fantastic and my favorite of what we tired. It's lightly breaded and served dry (not saucy) with a pile of woked, shaved garlic and sweet peppers, onions; served on a bed of chopped cabbage. Delicious and unusual - the texture and combination put great emphasis on the squid and practically melts-in-your-mouth.
* Stir-Fried String Beans - man I love these. Plenty of salty soy mixed with a bit of pork, ginger and garlic. The texture is so good.
Overall we had great food and a great time with everyone really enjoying this place. The service was excellent, some of the best I've encountered on Buford Highway with dishes coming to the table piping hot and water glasses continuously refilled. As an aside, I believe "La Mei Zi" means "Spicy Girl" in Chinese but specific to food and cooking (I'm not sure if it's a reference to the cook/owner or to the items cooked if gendered).
(also posted to Yelp)