With one shop closed, Gu family continues to serve famous dumplings

A selection of takeout dishes from G’s Kitchen in Chamblee. CONTRIBUTED BY WENDELL BROCK
Caption
A selection of takeout dishes from G’s Kitchen in Chamblee. CONTRIBUTED BY WENDELL BROCK

For international food lovers, a visit to Buford Highway these days can be a desolate experience. You won’t see dim-sum aficionados waiting for a turn at the carts at Canton House. You won’t have the opportunity to jostle for paletas and tacos at Plaza Fiesta. And, you may pull up to your favorite Vietnamese pho parlor or Chinese noodle house, only to discover it closed.

A half order of pork dumplings with Zhong-style sweet and spicy sauce, from Gu’s Kitchen in Chamblee. CONTRIBUTED BY WENDELL BROCK
Caption
A half order of pork dumplings with Zhong-style sweet and spicy sauce, from Gu’s Kitchen in Chamblee. CONTRIBUTED BY WENDELL BROCK

Fortunately, there are signs of life at Gu's Kitchen in Chamblee. 

Yvonne Gu Khan, whose parents are the chefs behind the three popular Sichuan restaurants bearing the family name, said regular customers are very proactive about supporting their go-to spot for spicy noodles, pork-filled dumplings and chile-shocked stir-fries. One customer dropped a $300 tip for the Chamblee staff.

“We have people order like two or three times a week, just to make sure we are doing OK and we don’t close down,” said Gu Khan, 37, who helped her parents open their first Atlanta restaurant — the much beloved Gu’s Bistro in Doraville — in 2010. Since closing Gu’s Bistro in 2015, the family opened Gu’s Dumplings at Krog Street Market, Gu’s Kitchen on Buford Highway, and another Gu’s Dumplings at Halcyon in Alpharetta.

Despite the success, “this is the hardest time we have ever faced,” Gu Khan said.

After a number of Halcyon staffers said they wanted to take time off, the family temporarily closed the Alpharetta shop and absorbed some of its Halcyon crew at the other two restaurants. They still employ eight workers in Chamblee, and about 10 at Krog.

Sichuan beef noodles from Gu’s Kitchen. CONTRIBUTED BY WENDELL BROCK
Caption
Sichuan beef noodles from Gu’s Kitchen. CONTRIBUTED BY WENDELL BROCK

Patriarch Yiquan Gu, 66, has worked in restaurants since he was 18 — first in China, then California and Atlanta. He still shows up every morning to make dumpling sauces and get the kitchen running. Qiongyao Zhang, his wife, recently took a month off after a serious finger cut. “Then the virus came,” Gu Khan said, and her 63-year-old mother remains quarantined.

Meanwhile, Gu Khan must worry about things like scheduling people to clean stove hoods and ice machines, and change the frying oil, since some of her regular providers have diminished operations. She also has three children to care for: a 1-year-old, a 6-year-old and an 18-year-old Georgia State University student.

A selection of takeout dishes from Gu’s Kitchen (clockwise from top right): mapo tofu; cold Chengdu noodles; Sichuan beef noodles; and pork belly fried rice. CONTRIBUTED BY WENDELL BROCK
Caption
A selection of takeout dishes from Gu’s Kitchen (clockwise from top right): mapo tofu; cold Chengdu noodles; Sichuan beef noodles; and pork belly fried rice. CONTRIBUTED BY WENDELL BROCK

For all the inconvenience, lack of business, increased food costs and fears about health and safety, Gu Khan knows her business has been blessed. To thank the many regular patrons from the CDC and Emory University, the Gus recently donated $2,000 to help Emory's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. "We wanted to show our love, that we appreciate what they are doing, too."

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GU’S KITCHEN/GU’S DUMPLINGS

Menu: Both locations offer the Sichuan dumplings, noodles, stir-fries and rice dishes that have made the Gu family famous, plus some Chinese-American classics. Gu's Kitchen has a slightly more ambitious menu, with dishes like pork belly fried rice, tea smoked duck and spicy boiled fish.

Alcohol: beer and wine available for takeout at Buford Highway location. Co-owner Yvonne Gu Khan said the restaurant has slashed prices on alcohol options.

What I ordered: pork dumplings with Zhong-style sauce; Chengdu cold noodles; mapo tofu; pork belly fried rice; Sichuan beef noodles. The dumplings remain as memorable as ever, and the chef's sweet-spicy sauce really gives them a lift. The beef noodles are nicely packaged, with the noodles and Chinese cabbage in one container and the spicy beef stew in another. Dump them all together in a large bowl when you get home. Warning: The heat level can really hit the back of the throat! The Chengdu cold noodles are good for calming the palate. The mapo tofu is beautifully made, though you may want to add a side of white rice to go with the gravy. The pork belly fried rice is unlike any rice dish in town: Super-smoky bacon infuses every grain.

Service options: curbside, touch-free pickup; delivery available via ChowNow, Uber Eats, Grubhub, DoorDash and Postmates.

Safety protocols: Staff wears gloves and masks, and sanitizes surfaces and doorknobs frequently. Tables block cash-register area to ensure proper distancing. Takeout bags are secured with a cable tie.

Address, phone: Gu's Kitchen: 4897 Buford Highway NE, Chamblee; 470-299-2388. Gu's Dumplings: 99 Krog St. NE, Atlanta; 404-527-6007. (Halcyon location closed.)

Hours: See website.

Websitesguskitchen.comgusdumplings.com

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