Good Eats 

Our critics' guide to Atlanta restaurants

Page 5 of 23

Harmony Vegetarian Chinese Restaurant, 4897 Buford Highway, 770-457-7288. Curry flavors (noodles, dumplings) and moo shu vegetable wraps are tops at this minimally decorated newcomer. Stick with greenery and skip the imitation beef and fish. $$

Kong Lang Orient Center, 4897 Buford Highway, 770-986-9168. Classy Cantonese barbecue and roast pork specialist, with seafood an added attraction, spins off (and up) from affably grungy, always reliable Ming's BBQ. Service, amenities and decor nearly match the delectable cuisine. $$

Las Americas Mexican Grill, 3652 E. Shallowford Road, 770-454-8557. Friendly atmosphere makes for a comfortable crossover joint -- fancier than a taqueria, but a bit more interesting than the standard Americanized Mexi-fare. Good place to go if you want to feel adventurous without actually being adventurous. Try the tipo pastor taco and the quesadillas. A $4.95 lunch buffet also available. $$

Little Malaysia, 5150 Buford Highway, 770-458-1818. Bare-bones Buford Highway establishment serves authentic Malaysian cuisine. Beef rendang is a good measuring stick for any Malaysian restaurant -- and at Little Malaysia, it's irresistible. The slow-cooked beef with spicy brown sauce and coconut flakes melts in your mouth. Curries, soups and noodles are stellar as well. Like the environment, the service is no-frills. $$

Little Szechuan, 5091-C Buford Highway, 770-451-0192. There's no trick to dining well at the state's best Chinese restaurant. Order almost anything unusual. Balance unfamiliar dishes with a like number of the family's favorite dishes. Figure on one platter per guest. Relax and sip your tea. Of particular interest: stir-fried mo shu vegetables, sizzling beef brisket, eggplant with garlic sauce, Szechuan cold noodles. $$

New Paradise Chinese Restaurant, 4795 Buford Highway, 770-936-0306. Located near the south end of the Chambodia business strip, this small, neat storefront offers affordable, authentic cuisine in simple surroundings. Foodies and similarly adventurous diners should order from the white Asian menu. A red tourist menu is available for those who prefer safer shopping-center fare. $$

Panahar, Northeast Plaza, 3375 Buford Highway #1060, 404-633-6655. Owner Mirza Chowdhury and his staff are all Bangladeshi, and Panahar's menu mirrors that fact: The food is less oily, less spicy and less meat-oriented than standard Indian cuisine. There's tons to choose from on the menu, but once you exhaust that the chef is willing to make up anything else that might tickle your fancy. Truly one of the best new Indian restaurants in town.

Penang Malaysian Cuisine, 4897 Buford Highway, 770-220-0308. Clever, classy take on the crossroads cuisine of Malaysia, one of Asia's sleeping tigers. Whole fish with Thai sauce, pancakes with chicken curry, satays, noodles and crisp vegetables -- all with a moderately spicy kick -- are authentic, approachable and well prepared. The setting, a bamboo summer house with all the latest conveniences, matches the upbeat, sunny ambience. $

Pho 79, 4166 Buford Highway, 404-728-9129. Go here to find a remarkable Vietnamese soup that is not strictly pho. I'm talking about the menu designation of K-10, called mi quang. It is from central Vietnam and features beef broth with broad yellow noodles. It's full of pork, shrimp, eggs, rice wafers and roasted peanuts that add a fascinating dimension to the usual soups. Of course, you'll float herbs and chilies on top. It's $5.75. What could be better? $$

Pho Hoa, 5150 Buford Highway, Asian Square, 770-455-8729. A true phoa restaurant popular with young, cruisy Asian kids and a die-hard older crowd. The smoking can get out of hand, but the noodles are always hot and tasty. $

Royal China, 3295 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, 770-216-9933. New owners have overhauled the former Honto to mostly good effect. Although the Cantonese cuisine is highly erratic, the elegant decor and new restrooms make a visit almost mandatory for old hands. On balance, try dinner rather than lunch, vegetables and seafood over meat. $$

Santo Domingo, 5310 Buford Highway, 770-452-3939. Buford Highway's no-fills restaurant of the Dominican Republic features cuisine comparable to Cuban cooking, with such staples as yucca, plantains and arroz y frilojes (beans and rice). But the specialty is the variety of delectable stews -- the goat stew particularly hits the spot. The portions are massive, although you might want to be attentive to plentiful bones and fatty cuts of meat. $$

Shingaar Palace, 3364-H Chamblee Tucker Road, 770-458-4466. Newcomer offers what may be the city's best combination of authentic Indian food, agreeable service and elegant, albeit colonial-style comforts. Appetizers, vegetables and curry sauces are particularly notable. $$$

Song Long, 4166 Buford Hwy., 404-320-9772. Bright star among a galaxy of Asian newcomers in Oriental Mall (the former Outlet Square), this Vietnamese specialist features eager-to-please staffers, budget prices, music videos and an extraordinarily complete menu. Don't miss the cha gio (Vietnamese fried spring rolls) with lettuce and herb leaf wrappers, or the various rice-noodle soups. No credit cards. $$

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