I’ve never stopped and counted how many just Asian supermarkets there are in metro Atlanta, but I wager the number is larger than you think. And what’s so cool about them is that they don’t sell just groceries. Instead these mini-malls offer everything from dramatic Korean visors that block out all the sun to toilets with integrated bidets to slippers that sweep your floor as you walk. But the best part, undoubtedly, is the food court. While I have my favorite Asian food courts around Atlanta (more on that at a later date), it’s been a while since something got me as excited as I was during my visit to Jusgo Supermarket in Duluth.
The market, which is as large as the Babies “R” Us store it replaced, is divided into two large sections: the supermarket and the food court, which has an unrivaled mix of predominantly Chinese foodstuffs. The supermarket was well-organized with an impressive meat and fish counter (the latter of which clearly entertained some of the kids in the market as they ran away from the live frogs that occupied one tank). There is also a beauty store and a few open kiosks I assume will be eventually filled with other services.
Although Jusgo opened in May, its food court was slow to get up and running. While it still has a way to go before it is 100 percent occupied, it offers a rather exciting variety of regional Chinese styles, including craft-your-own Sichuan-style dry hot pots at Uncle Zhu, Cantonese barbecue, and Shaanxi-style cuisine at Xian Gourmet House, and Taste of Tian Jin, which serves dishes typically found in the port city of Tianjin near Beijing. I was only able to scratch the surface of the food court, trying three out of seven spots, but what I tasted was very promising.
Considering the small amount of Shaanxi cuisine in Atlanta, I was most intrigued by Xi’an Gourmet House, specifically the biang biang noodles and the liang pi cold skin noodles. The latter, made from wheat flour, were slippery and chewy with just enough vinegar and salt to season the bean sprouts and julienned cucumbers until a slurry of chili pepper infused-oil hits the tongue. The biang biang noodles are wider and covered in a mosaic of scrambled eggs, tomato, pork sauce, and green onions. The hand-pulled noodles are super long, making it quite entertaining to watch your tablemates wrangle the seemingly endless noodles into the bowl.
Other notable items are the shredded pork, spicy cumin lamb burger, and lamb pao-mo soup made with noodles and torn hunks of bread. Unfortunately our order of crystal shrimp was rather disappointing—an overcooked ring of broccoli acted as a dam for a mountain of crustaceans that were just too tiny.
Caraway Cafe and A Taste of Tian Jing offer a take on the hard-to-find (in Atlanta) dish: jianbing, an egg and flour-based crepe that is filled with pickled vegetables and a crispy fried cracker, then rolled up. But I was more intrigued by the menu’s promise of “handmade dim sum.” I ordered two dumpling dishes from this stall, which is located on the less populated side of the court. Our order of Shanghai soup buns were sadly chewy and gamey, but the pork and chive dumplings had a satisfying enough filling to make me overlook the fact that the skins were a touch oversteamed.
Other stalls include Eyescream, a Thai-inspired rolled ice cream spot that puts googly eyes on the top of its sweet creations. (Eyes-cream. Get it?) Kumai Ramen is the only Japanese concept, and although I had them strip down the Tonkotsu ramen by taking out all the vegetables and accouterments so as to not offend the delicate green-averse sensibilities of my 5-year-old, the broth was pleasingly flavorful and full-bodied, and the noodles were springy. They also serve oden, a dashi and soy-based broth filled with various types of skewered fish cakes that is traditionally served in Japan during the winter. It’s a dish you don’t see much around this city.
If the thought of driving to Duluth deters you, reframe this trek as an adventure. Eat a few different things in the food court, pick up a couple of quirky imports (a flying, remote-controlled Pikachu, anyone?), and stock up on affordable groceries all in one stop. Jusgo is efficiency at its best. 3875 Venture Drive, Duluth, 678-691-3637