If you find Asheville’s Asian dining scene lacking, I can’t recommend a trek to Atlanta highly enough. Just outside of downtown Atlanta lies Buford Highway, a stretch of road populated by a number of Asian eateries where the food is about as authentic as you can find in the southeastern United States. One major complaint I have about Asian eateries throughout the country is their lack of appropriate wines to accompany their foods, but so be it. Beer tends to suffice, but if you own an Asian restaurant and read this, please consider some of these wine suggestions.
We always start our dining tour at a great Malaysian restaurant called Penang, and we are always happy. We started with the Penang Lobak appetizer, which is a plate including deep fried minced pork wrapped in bean curd, a shrimp pancake and fried tofu with a sweet and savory dipping sauce. It got our juices flowing with a combination of sweet, salty and bitter flavors and was a great lead-in to our main courses.
|Char Kuey Teow|
I chose the Curry Mee, a soupy concoction of fresh noodles served in a curry/coconut milk/lemongrass broth with chicken, shrimp and tofu. This dish reminds me ever so slightly of one of my favorite Singaporean dishes, Laksa. It’s slightly spicy, but sweet with a limey/sour component to it. A dry German or Alsatian Riesling would have really livened this dish up, but the Tiger beer I had with it was good enough. My dining partner chose the Char Kuey Teow, a traditional Malaysian dish of stir fried flat rice noodles with fresh shrimp, squid, bean sprout, eggs, soy sauce and chili paste. This really reminded us of our dining experiences in southeast Asia and for around $7, we were deeply satisfied. The flavors were complex and fresh, with a variety of complimentary flavors going on that all worked nicely together. A dry or semi-sweet Loire Valley Chenin Blanc would have really made this dish pop, with it’s subtle, but present heat, smokiness and sour flavors. I was tempted to lick the bowl when all of the food had been consumed, but I held back.
|Jacques Lassaigne “Le Cotet”|
We slept in the next morning, just long enough to get our appetites back, and we needed them as we were headed to Canton House , our favorite spot in the southeast for Dim Sum. Dim Sum is the Asian equivalent to tapas, but it is typically consumed for breakfast and lunch. I got hooked on this type of cuisine when I lived in Northern Virginia, and the wife and I would fast for a day before heading to one of the many terrific Dim Sum restaurants on Leesburg Pike. Unfortunately, there’s nowhere to get this type of food in Asheville or Western North Carolina, so when we head to Atlanta, this is always something we look forward to.
|BBQ Pork Bun|
|Shrimp and Chive Dumplings|
As we approached the restaurant, there was a bit of a wait, and the place was packed with Asian diners which is always a good sign that the food is authentic. Servers push around food carts loaded with all sorts of tasty small plates. There are dumplings, barbecued pork buns, sugarcane shrimp skewers, chicken feet, tripe, vegetables, sweets and too many other things to name. We started with a couple plates of pork and shrimp dumplings, and the rest is a bit foggy, as I was absolutely intoxicated in culinary bliss. We ate, we took pictures, and we just soaked it all in, enjoying every last bite of food that was brought to us. Take a look at these pictures, and make sure to make this a stop the next time you’re in Atlanta. You will thank me.
|Real Shumai…..aka Pork Dumplings|
For the next couple of days, we did some sight-seeing, ate some decent Thai food as well as some good old American food, but nothing too special. We did, however, enjoy another super bottle of bubbly, but this time it wasn’t Champagne. It was sparkling Vouvray, but from Chenin Blanc master Francois Pinon. Francois is considered one of the top producers of Vouvray, and his vineyards are situated about 5 miles northeast of the town of Vouvray. His soil is varied, some clay and silica on a base of limestone and flint, and the area is rated among the top sites in the appellation. I was deeply impressed by this wine’s texture, intensity and mineral concentration. We enjoyed the wine with some tasty take out sushi……..I don’t remember the name of the restaurant, but it was fine……..the wine was the real superstar.
|Francois Pinon Vouvray Brut|
|Steamed Red Snapper|
|Steamed Red Snapper Destroyed!|