Real Chow Baby’s Mike Blum Announces New Concept

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ATL Food Chatter: April 26, 2011

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Mike Blum, the co-creator of the stir-fry-based The Real Chow Baby restaurants, has announced his next concept: Yum Bunz, a quick-serve dim sum restaurant that will specialize in bao, fluffy Chinese buns stuffed with barbecued roast pork and other fillings. Blum is currently scouting spaces for his first location and filled me in on some of the concept’s details:

Q: Do you have a particular interest in Chinese cuisine, or is it just coincidence that you have come up with two food concepts that have their roots in Chinese cooking?

MB: I think that Chinese cuisine is healthy and, with the epidemic of obesity in the country (especially childhood obesity), I tend to look at concepts that are healthy as well as flavorful. Chinese food, when authentic, is probably the healthiest food in the world. Good Chinese food is prepared and cooked with poly-unsaturated oils. Authentic Chinese does not require the use of milk-fat ingredients such as cream, butter, or cheese. Meat is used, but not in abundance, which makes it easy for those who love authentic Chinese food to avoid high levels of animal fat.

Q: How did you come up with the concept; what restaurants did you look at for inspiration?

MB: Concept was inspired by several factors: 1) the crazy popularity of street food and food trucks 2) the portability of the items—both the bao and steamed dumplings 3) the increasing competition in the restaurant industry and the demand for “fast food” that is healthy and inexpensive and has a certain “wow factor” 4) the amazing flavor combinations that can be used to fill a bao or steamed dumpling 5) most importantly, no one is doing this in Atlanta. Just like when I opened The Real Chow Baby—it was the first create-your-own Stir-Fry restaurant in Atlanta. Roy Choi and the Kogi Food Truck was an inspiration. Also, Wow Bao from Rich Melman and the Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants.

Q: When do you plan to roll it out and where?

MB: Currently scouting locations! Hoping to find a location in either Midtown, the West Side, or the Old Fourth Ward. Expect to open the first Yum Bunz in late summer/early fall 2011.

NEWS AND NOTES:

David Sweeney, chef/owner of the still-dearly-missed Dynamic Dish, and Guy Wong of Miso Izakaya, are teaming up to offer a special meal at Wong’s restaurant this Sunday, May 1. Dishes are priced individually and include grilled oyster mushrooms with cashew cream, Korean cucumber, radish and radish sprout ($7.95) and lemongrass-poached shrimp with lime, Thai basil, mango, and shaved coconut ($8.95). 619 Edgewood Avenue, 678-701-0128.

Also on Sunday, May 1, at 6:30 p.m., Watershed will welcome Andrea Reusing—the James Beard nominated chef of Lantern restaurant in Chapel Hill, N.C., and author of the new cookbook Cooking in the Moment—for a special dinner in collaboration with chef Joe Truex,

Singer Susan Nicely and the Atlanta Opera will whip up giggles at Cook’s Warehouse’s Decatur location Thursday, May 5 at 7:30 p.m. as they perform Bon Appetit, a thirty-minute opera monologue based on Julia Child’s popular TV series. Nicely will perform as Julia Child, singing and baking a “cake” in the store’s demonstration kitchen. Chocolate desserts will be served.

Will Harris III—beef wizard of White Oak Pastures in Bluffton, Georgia—was named Georgia’s 2011 Small Business Person of the Year by the US Small Business Administration.

 
Buckhead. Art Smith, noted Chicago and DC restaurateur, has been signed on to helm a restaurant in the soon-to-be-former Au Pied De Cochon space at the Intercontinental hotel, according to Tomorrow’s New Today. The story also states that the new restaurant will be a “Nouveau Southern” restaurant and that the hotel’s XO Bar will become a bourbon bar. Both are slated to open by September.
 
Downtown. Creative Loafing broke the news that Gerry Klaskala, chef/owner of Aria, will be opening a new restaurant Downtown that is slated for a late summer opening. We called Klaskala, who told us that the opening is technically a consulting gig with the Hyatt Regency Downtown. “Essentially, we’ll compose the menu and they’ll take it from there,” said Klaskala.

Hill Street Tavern—featuring barbecue ribs and Fat Tire, Duvel and König Ludwig Weissbier (among others) on tap—has opened in The Pencil Factory Flats & Shops at 349 Hill Street.

Midtown. The second location of Grindhouse Killer Burgers opened Tuesday, April 19 at 1842 Piedmont Avenue. The new location features lunch and dinner, seven days a week, from 11 a.m.

One Midtown Kitchen chef Drew Van Leuvan is hosting a Wednesday Summer Chef series, featuring star chefs like Shaun Doty, Bruce Logue, Hector Santiago, and Drew Belline. The series kicks off with Hugh Acheson on June 1 at 7pm.

Junior’s Grill, a favorite of Georgia Tech students for over 60 years, has closed.
 
Poncey Highland. Richard Blais’s hot dog focused restaurant, tentatively titled HD, is being designed by ai3.
 
Question of the Week: What gangbusters chocolate company is opening a new location in Virginia-Highland?

PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW—What two Atlanta metro restaurants had pasta dishes that made it onto Grubstreet.com’s America’s 101 Best Noodle Dishes?—is Cakes &Ale and Sotto Sotto

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Comments

  1. kyle

    April 26, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    if the yum bunz are anything like wow bao (which i’ve had in chicago) this will be a very successful venture. great idea, especially since there are none like it here. can’t say i didn’t think of this when i tried wow bao for the first time, but like the saying goes… it takes money to make money. good luck

    Reply

  2. Get Original

    April 27, 2011 at 12:55 am

    How original… first Mike Blum basically copies Flat Top Grill in Chicago for Real Chow Baby. Now he basically admits that he is copying Wow Bao. Amazing that this guy can make so much money by copying people. What’s next Mike… I hear Chicago makes a mean deep dish pizza… you gonna rip that concept off too???

    Reply

  3. bubbles

    April 27, 2011 at 1:32 am

    its Izakaya, not Izayakaya

    Reply

  4. Inman Parker

    April 27, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    As long as it’s tasty, I have no problem with him being a copycat. Actually, why did it take so long for someone to copy this idea?

    Reply

  5. Allison Wonderland

    April 27, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    Get Original, why so bitter about someone being smart enough to observe a successful concept in another city and bring a similar concept to Atlanta? I’m delighted to see something new and different in a city that’s in danger of becoming a wasteland of burger joints and yogurt shops.

    Reply

  6. Rachel

    April 28, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    Hey Bubbles..Get a life! This is awesome Mike! Once again you are bringing something new to Atlanta and making the quality, customer service and more far superior to your competitors. Brilliant! But why is your partner, Chip trying to say co creator of Chowbaby…if I recall he came into the picture way after Chowbaby was open and running with lines out the door??? hmmmmm..Congrats Mike! Genious again!

    Reply

  7. mikek_3554

    June 12, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    Hopefully this will be as successful as Chow Baby was for Mike – and hopefully he has gotten out of the habit of doing blow in the bathrooms with the Mexican busboys like he used to at Chow Baby! Good Luck!

    Reply