Word of Mouth 

Our critics' guide to Atlanta restaurants

Page 4 of 9

Somber Reptile's Cajun Kitchen, 842 Marietta St., 404-881-9701. Snackery in a quirky music hall (walls black, smoking encouraged, no coffee) is westside headquarters for shrimp, oyster and andouille sausage po' boy sandwiches, fried okra and cold suds. Sonny bubbas in uniform and men in suits hit it hard at lunchtime on weekdays. -- EM

Ya Ya's Cajun Cuisine, 426 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., 404-373-9292. David and Leslie Lester have hit the big time in Decatur. Lunch offers the best po' boys in town and dinner means very good (roux-less) etouffees and gumbos. Try the grilled boudin and "snapper courtbouillion." -- CBB

Chicken World, 5150 Buford Highway, 770-458-5164. Give your honey a choice of menudo, Buffalo chicken wings or moo goo gai pan here. Chino-Mexicano. It's not the best food in town, but it is most definitely a happening. -- CBB

Chopstix, 4279 Roswell Road, 404-255-4868. One of the most popular Asian-style restaurants in Atlanta, where elegant Chinese fare is served by candlelight to a rather upscale audience. Gourmet classics from shrimp to lobster to sweetbreads are prepared Hong Kong style -- everything's top-notch. -- SSS

Chung Ha Chinese-Korean Buffet, 5979 Buford Highway, Doraville, 770-455-7370. Foodies with a taste for experimentation will appreciate the extensive display of Asian foods as well as a helpful, informative staff. Highlights include Korean barbecued meats and hors d'oeuvres, nuggets of marinated chicken, unusual soups and noodles. Very affordable. Sunday brunch draws after-church mobs. -- EM

Doc Chey's Noodle House, 1424 N. Highland Ave., 404-888-0777; 1556 N. Decatur Road, 404-378-8188. A pan-Asian noodle house for yuppies. Great sense of humor, great style, great appetizers. -- CBB

Grand Buffet II (Chinese), Buckhead Crossing, 2625 Piedmont Road at Sidney Marcus Boulevard, 404-760-9967. Grand Buffet II offers Buckhead location at Southside prices. The bountiful Chinese-American spread has notable "wow-golly" appeal. Much of the food tastes fresh. Grill cooks prepare many items in small batches just behind the serving line. Platters and trays are replenished often. -- EM

Harmony Vegetarian Chinese Restaurant, 4897 Buford Highway, Chamblee, 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. -- EM

Kong Lang, Orient Center, 4897 Buford Highway, Suite 125, Chamblee, 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 BarB.Q. Restaurant nearby. Service, amenities and decor nearly match the delectable cuisine. -- EM

Little Szechuan, Northwood Plaza, 5091-C Buford Highway, Doraville, 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. -- EM

New Paradise Chinese Restaurant, 4795 Buford Highway, Chamblee, 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. -- EM

Noodle, 205 E. Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur. 404-378-8622. Stylish, moderately priced noodle bar features appetizers, noodle bowls, soups, rice plates and entree salads, four or five of each, all more or less Chinese, Korean, Thai or Vietnamese in derivation and presentation. Oversize crockery, decent wine-and-beer list and touchy-feely industrial decor emphasize the distance Asian-American-style restaurants have traveled -- from mainland to mainstream. --EM.

P.F. Chang's China Bistro, 500 Ashwood Parkway, off Ashford Dunwoody Road, 770-352-0500. An only partially successful attempt to mate Chinese cookery with the American casual-chain concept, this is essentially a Bennigan's with egg rolls. Service and cuisine are thoroughly Americanized. Evocations of China consist almost entirely of Asian-style decorations. Orange peel shrimp is a safe choice. -- EM

Pyng Ho, 1357 Clairmont Road, 404-634-4477. This is a popular and authentic Chinese restaurant outside the main Buford Highway corridor. Thus, many who find the ethnic experience intimidating will be more comfortable here. By all means, stick to the menu of evening specials. A whole fried red snapper drizzled in black bean sauce is amazing. -- CBB

Royal China, 3295 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, Chamblee, 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. -- EM


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