Chamblee’s Chinatown Mall captures China’s culinary diversity

Fifteen dishes to try at Atlanta’s own Little China

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Photographs by Andrew Thomas Lee
Photographs by Andrew Thomas Lee

If you know the Atlanta Chinatown Mall at all, likely it’s as the shopping center that’s home to dim sum mainstay Oriental Pearl. But the mall’s origins actually date back to 1988, when it opened as a cultural center to serve the area’s growing Chinese American population. Located off Chamblee Dunwoody Road, the 55,000-square-foot property we see today is the result of a significant renovation that occurred in 1999. Thirty tenants—including a Chinese video store, a supermarket, and an herbal medicine shop—make up Atlanta’s own Little China.

At the center of the mall is the food court, its kidney-shaped perimeter flanked by six restaurants. Square tables fill the court, and red lanterns dangle from the ceiling. Menus written in Chinese hanzi sprawl down the walls. Nobody comes here for ambience. They come for the food, which spans the breadth of China’s culinary diversity. Plump pork dumplings with chives and soothing soups with hand-pulled noodles at Lan Zhou Noodle nod to the north. Pan-fried rice noodles (chow fun) and roasted Peking duck from Hong Kong BBQ bow to signatures from Canton in the south and China’s capital, Beijing. Chong Qing Hot Pot serves one of the spiciest tofu classics in Atlanta: mapo doufu straight from the Sichuan province, a land of tongue-numbing chiles and oils. China Kitchen rounds out the court with a Pan-Chinese menu, succeeding with white fish boiled in spicy chili oils and green beans blistered in a sizzling wok.

The sheer breadth of the menu options at Atlanta Chinatown Mall is an important reminder that even though Vietnamese pho, Japanese ramen, and Korean kimchi may be all the rage, the cuisine of the world’s most populous nation also deserves some love. The mall proves to us that, like so many other ethnic cuisines, China’s culinary muscles tend to flex the most in unassuming settings.

Thirty dollars (the court is mostly cash-only but has an ATM) will easily feed six—and feed them like a real Chinese family, a meal without General Tso or a single eggroll. The vendors speak English, so ordering isn’t a problem if Mandarin isn’t your second language. The challenge is sifting through hundreds of options to find the good ones. Start with the fifteen we’ve picked out here. They’ll give you the courage and appetite to keep digging

All dishes are available at Atlanta Chinatown Mall. 
5383 New Peachtree Road, Chamblee


Sichuan string beans, 干煸四季豆 — $6.50
China Kitchen: 678-860-2777

 

 

 

Bean curd home-style (mapo doufu), 家常豆腐 —$5.95
Chong Qing Hot Pot: 770-936-1379

 

 

 

Steamed pork dumplings with chives, 水饺 — $6.50
Lan Zhou Noodle: 678-549-7853

 

 

 

Beef stew hand-pulled noodle soup, 牛南面 — $6.50
Lan Zhou Noodle: 678-549-7853

 

 

 

Dry beef chow fun, 干炒牛河 — $7.29
Hong Kong BBQ 770-451-7277

 

 

 

Roast pork, 叉烧 — $4.99
Hong Kong BBQ: 770-451-7277

 

 

 

Twice-cooked pork, 回锅肉 — $7.95
China Kitchen: 678-860-2777

 

 

 

Pork with dried tofu slices and celery, 芹菜香干肉绦 — $7.95
China Kitchen 678-860-2777

 

 

 

Sliced fish in hot chili oil, 水煮鱼 — $7.95
China Kitchen 678-860-2777

 

 

 

Dan dan noodles, 重慶旦旦面 — $4.95
Chong Qing Hot Pot: 770-936-1379

 

 

 

Chong Qing spicy chicken, 四川辣子鷄 — $7.25
Chong Qing Hot Pot: 770-936-1379

 

 

 

Whole roast duck, 烤鸭 — $16.99
Hong Kong BBQ: 770-451-7277

 

 

 

Sliced fish, bitter melon, black bean sauce, 豆豉苦瓜魚片 — $8.50
China Kitchen: 678-860-2777

 

 

 

Eggplant with garlic sauce, 魚香茄子 — $6.50
China Kitchen: 678-860-2777

 

 

 

Braised pork belly (hongshao rou), 红烧肉 — $7.95
China Kitchen: 678-860-2777

 

 

 


This article originally appeared in our August 2014 issue.

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