When you’re looking for soup along Buford Highway, you’re looking for noodles and dumplings. My favorite? The stretchy noodles at New Lan Zhou Noodle at Atlanta Chinatown, off Buford on New Peachtree Road in Chamblee. New Lan Zhou is easy to find— just look for the young man vigorously kneading yard-long logs of ivory-colored dough, folding them against themselves, and intertwining the progressively thinner ropes in a cat’s cradle until he cuts free the dowel-thick strings hanging from his wrist. These he tosses into a vat of boiling broth, from which they’re fished out like squirming carp. Because watching the noodles being made is a show in itself, and the noodles give you a fight—as the toothless, if gluten-free, rice noodles in pho never do—the broth is secondary. Still, the duck soup ($9) has authority and depth, with generous chunks of roast meat.
Bo Bo Garden, a relatively upscale restaurant in Pinetree Shopping Center in Doraville, serves delicately flavored Cantonese soups. A dried scallop and shredded duck soup ($10.99)—with snow peas, bamboo shoots, and mushrooms—has the opaque, crunchy appeal of hot and sour soup, minus the heat. The standout is lobster congee ($29), the pureed rice giving heft to a marvelously flavored chicken broth with strong accents of ginger and scallion. The barely cracked lobster is so hard-shelled that it’s mostly a frustrating temptation, but the porridgey soup is both soothing and stick-to-your-ribs satisfying. (Restrain yourself from filling up on the fried peanuts that come free.)
For fragrant broth, be sure to stop by Tempo Doeloe, on the first floor of a BuHi shopping center, for soto betawi ($8.99), Indonesian coconut milk broth garnished with fried onion and fried tofu triangles, perfumed with coconut and cinnamon. (Be prepared for long waits on Sundays.)
For clockwork professionalism and tender, delicate dumpling dough that dissolves on your tongue, go to So Kong Dong Tofu House, a family-friendly Korean restaurant that blankets the tables with giveaways that include terrific sweet-and-salty sweet potato noodles. Along with the vegetable dumplings and tofu soups ($9.99) that arrive at a high boil, a pungent kimchi soup will clear your sinuses.
For mysterious, murky depth, go to Yet Tuh, a Korean restaurant tucked behind a mini-mall in Doraville, where the copious free appetizers include sweet, lightly pickled eggplant and celery salads. If you’re feeling carnivorous, there are peppery pork stews that can feed a family. But the soup to try is the mesangi guk fulvescens seaweed soup ($10.95): jade-green, grassy, thick, and with the depth of a forest though it’s from the sea, underpinned and amplified by a full-flavored chicken broth. It’s at once refreshing and satisfying—just the right comfort to turn to in times of need.
This article originally appeared in our January 2017 issue.