The verdict on 3 new Atlanta restaurants: Girl Diver, Ok Yaki, and the Chastain

Richard Tang’s latest mixes Asian cuisines, Ok Yaki seems straight from Japan, and the Chastain opens in a legendary space

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Girl Diver
Green Curry Mussels at Girl Diver

Photograph by Andrew thomas lee

Girl Diver
Announced originally as a Vietnamese-Cajun seafood restaurant, Richard Tang’s new dining venue in Madison Yards looks a lot like his place in Inman Park, a Korean barbecue restaurant named Char: colorful, modern, bar-driven, and with plenty of covered outdoor seating. A mural with a terrifying brick-red octopus wrapped around a female pearl diver is a bit overwhelming in the small space. Some of the menu is devoted to expensive shareable seafood platters best suited for dining with a crowd, but there is much to praise about the seafood by the pound that includes boiled crawfish, lobster, and (a favorite of mine) tail-on shrimp with semidetached heads. The kitchen has many subtle ways to elevate dishes such as mussels in green curry, green papaya salad with shaved shrimp, braised pork belly with baby carrots, and saucy shaken beef. Don’t expect much that will feel Cajun or Vietnamese, but the mix of Chinese, Thai, and other dishes gathered from around Asia is well curated. Modernist twists, mostly perfect textures, and a clever menu of cocktails and sake recommend this new restaurant, especially with the great hospitality that is one of Tang’s many talents. 955 Memorial Drive, Reynoldstown, 404-525-2424

Ok Yaki
In the parking lot behind the Ormewood Park Hodgepodge Coffeehouse, I was looking at the new Ok Yaki when the Japanese word for “cute,” “kawaii,” popped into my mind. I was flooded with happy memories of the many snacky meals I associate with Osaka, a birthplace of okonomiyaki. The new Ok Yaki, an expansion of Corban Irby’s pop-ups at We Suki Suki, is as authentic a corner of Japan as exists in our city. The tiny, low-slung building, painted manga-style in cheerful tints of rose and turquoise unmistakably evokes Japanese culture. The food—mainly the okonomiyaki, which is a savory shredded cabbage pancake topped with dancing bonito flakes, seaweed, drizzles of Kewpie mayo, and soy—is an exciting addition to Moreland Avenue. Toppings such as shrimp, pork belly, tofu, and more are available for both the rich house specialty and the sauteed thin wheat noodles (yakisoba) sprinkled with bright-red pickled ginger. Handmade gyoza dumplings, Japanese curry, extra-large tonkatsu pork cutlets fried in panko crumbs, and an evolving roster of Osaka-style foods are well worth ordering. 714 Moreland Avenue, East Atlanta,
404-999-9254

The Chastain
No restaurant opened during the pandemic has come close to matching the level of excitement generated by the Chastain. Originally a humble country store converted into a rustic dining spot by Bill Daly in 1946, the Red Barn Inn was a hangout for the moneyed elite for decades. Becoming the Horseradish Grill in 1994, it channeled the South under chef Scott Peacock. Now, the newly renovated barn feels modern and swank under new ownership. Christopher Grossman, who formerly headed the kitchen of Atlas, is a chef you can trust implicitly. The place may function as a cafe, serving Brash coffee, housemade pastries, and quiches during the day, but come dinnertime, it’s all about foie gras (with sweet potatoes and peppercorn meringue), butter-poached lobster (in and around tender agnolotti with chanterelles and sugar snap peas), and other deluxe vittles. The presence of witty (and less expensive) treats—such as a crisp turkey wing (Buffalo-style with blue cheese and hot sauces) and, less successfully, an unorthodox version of shrimp and grits—balances the seriousness of items ranging from lamb loin marinated in yogurt to a beautifully rendered Georgia mountain trout dusted with potato and bacon and plated on creamy greens. The highlight is the nontraditional but obscenely crisp and tender profiteroles filled with Chantilly cream, garnished with a transparent sugar tuile and just the right amount of salted caramel. The wine list has depth and charm, and cocktails play a major role. 4320 Powers Ferry Road, Chastain Park, 404-257-6416

This article appears in our March 2021 issue.

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