A burgeoning Atlanta food mecca sits quietly in Doraville, nestled among car dealerships and barricaded from easy access by I-285. Peachtree Pavilion, better known as the home of Super H Mart and BrandsMart USA, is home to an exciting lineup of restaurants and food purveyors that belie the shopping center’s generic name.
The first thing you’ll notice on arrival is that Peachtree Pavilion is only about half occupied, though there’s plenty of activity behind the currently dormant storefronts. As of mid-April, there are no fewer than six spaces with named restaurants under construction, flying their “Coming Soon” flags.
Next, you’ll notice the breadth of already operational restaurants. Super H Mart, a Korean supermarket chain, houses a food court that includes Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese restaurant counters. Snackboxe Bistro serves Laotian street food from the north side of the pavilion. Next door is the modern and attractive Miss Gogi Korean BBQ, and the Japanese import Kula Revolving Sushi Bar sits across the parking lot. In addition to Kula, the south side of the pavilion is home to sister restaurants Shoya Izakaya and Yebisuya Ramen.
Is this unassuming shopping center a slumbering cultural giant? With buzzy, crowd-magnet concepts like Kula and legitimate food media darlings like Snackboxe, it appears that Peachtree Pavilion has positive momentum. Another hit restaurant or two and the place could become a reasonably priced restaurant-hopping alternative to Atlanta’s trendy intown food halls. Here’s what you can expect at a few of Peachtree Pavilion’s growing number of dining establishments:
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Super H Mart
Beyond the checkout line at Super H Mart awaits a food court with several counter-service restaurants and a bakery, but there’s plenty to eat before you even get to that point. Free samples abound in the supermarket portion of Super H Mart, including a veritable buffet of cured, pickled and preserved delights near the seafood section. Whole pickled garlic cloves in vinegar, spicy stir-fried dried anchovy and colorful rice cakes are free for the tasting. On a recent visit, I was given a made-to-order quesadilla with Oaxacan cheese, crumbled pork sausage and creamy green salsa. It was served on a corn tortilla produced in Norcross.
The restaurant counters include T1 Bento & Grill (Japanese), Beijing House (Chinese), Tokyo Grill (Japanese), Daejanggum Korean Cuisine and Tous Les Jours bakery (French Vietnamese). Each restaurant has an impressive slate of individual offerings, including daily specials — codfish head was recently a highlight at Daejanggum.
6035 Peachtree Road, Building B, Doraville. 770-986-2300, hmart.com.
Snackboxe Bistro has a familiar look and feel: step up to the modern counter, order a few dishes from the wall-posted menu, take a number and find a seat. What comes out of the kitchen, though, is intensely flavored Laotian cuisine that storms over your palate and firmly embeds itself in your brain.
The flavors at Snackboxe are astonishing. Seemingly familiar dishes like chicken larb, comically understated on the menu as “baked shredded chicken,” are delivered with typhoon-like force. This version of chicken larb is searingly spicy and redolent with fish sauce, mint and lime. Spicy thum, a green papaya salad, is the crunchy and refreshing dish you’d like to eat in a beachside hammock.
These dishes and several others are permeated with the savory funkiness of fish sauce, a staple of Laotian cooking. Snackboxe feels fresh because those flavors have not been restrained or diluted for an American audience. The cooking is charismatic because it is brash, unapologetic, fun and adventurous. You can’t forget it, and you can’t wait to taste it again.
6035 Peachtree Road, Suite C114, Doraville. 770-417-8082, snackboxebistro.com.
Miss Gogi Korean BBQ
A sleek, sophisticated interior and the intoxicating scent of grilled meats greet anyone who walks into Miss Gogi Korean BBQ. The grills here are flat-top style rather than the cast-iron grates over an open flame seen at many Korean barbecue restaurants. The smart play is to come here with a group and be prepared to eat enough food for twice that amount of people. A combo for two people includes marinated galbi, steak, beef brisket, pork belly and chicken bulgogi, followed by soybean soup and fried rice. Bring your appetite, and wear stretchy pants.
6035 Peachtree Road, Suite C115, Doraville. 770-220-3003, Facebook: Miss Gogi.
Kula Revolving Sushi Bar
Though it says Kura on the sign, the restaurant appears to freely interchange the names Kula and Kura. It hasn’t kept people from flocking to the conveyor belt sushi spot. No, the raw fish isn’t anything to write home about, but the restaurant is a fun and interactive place that holds other appeal.
While I wouldn’t suggest the uni, a bargain at $2.25 per piece but laden with an unfortunate iodine flavor, many of the cooked dishes are solid. The seared beef with yakiniku sauce strikes a nice balance of salty and sweet, and the teriyaki salmon cheeks are tender and satisfying.
There’s something that’s just plain fun about seeing a variety of dishes trundling by, and it’s impossible to repress a smile when your custom order comes zooming toward you on the upper-level conveyor, stopping precisely at your table. Plus, you win gumball machine prizes as you order more dishes. You can forgive low-quality sea urchin when you’re having this much fun.
6035 Peachtree Road, Suite A107-110, Doraville. 470-255-2071, kurausa.com.
The first of two Peachtree Pavilion restaurants operated by the same owners (along with Ginya Izakaya in West Midtown), Shoya Izakaya is known for its wide-ranging menu of competent, if not masterful, Japanese fare. Diners can choose from sushi, kushiyaki (grilled skewers of meat and vegetables), or a variety of other broadly categorized meat, seafood and vegetable dishes. Shoya even serves ramen, despite the fact that Yebisuya, its direct neighbor and sibling, is built around ramen.
The breadth of the menu makes Shoya an excellent destination for group dining, satisfying both restrained and adventurous palates. Simple staples like tempura vegetables and fried rice are tasty and well-executed. Further from the beaten path would be Una-Gyu Don, a dish of barbecued eel and sukiyaki beef with an egg over rice, decadent and greasy in a satisfying way. There’s even a tasting experience: order a chef’s selection of five kushiyaki skewers for $10 or eight for $15.
If you like sushi and sashimi, order the sashimi salad. It’s an excellent value in terms of the amount and quality of sashimi, and it whets the palate for many of the richer dishes further on in the menu.
6035 Peachtree Road, Suite A101, Doraville. 770-457-5555, shoyaatlanta.com.
The Yebisuya menu is firmly centered on ramen, with some izakaya-style dishes offered only at dinner.
A recent order of classic spicy tan tan ramen arrived piping hot with raw bok choy slowly softening in broth slicked with red dots of chile oil. Seasoned ground pork added heft, and the noodles were tender but not overcooked. Another clue indicating the kitchen’s expertise: a nicely cooked soft-boiled egg, the yolk jammy as it should be.
Yebisuya Ramen won’t be winning awards for creativity, but it’s tough to beat for a satisfying lunch or dinner if you want ramen done right. Add in a few strong, snackable appetizers like perfectly crispy chicken karaage, and Yebisuya makes a strong case for your attention in a shopping center packed with options.
6035 Peachtree Road, Suite A105, Doraville. 678-691-6737, yebisuyaramen.com.