Atlanta chefs dish on their favorite local comfort foods
Chefs might be able to whip up their own comfort food, but sometimes comfort means letting someone else do the cooking. Here’s where 10 culinarians in metro Atlanta go when they need comfort food.
So So Fed
Duy Huynh on the pyramid dumpling from Saigon Tofu: “It’s something that everybody grew up with (in Vietnam). It’s something that’s really nostalgic for me — really warm. It’s minced ground pork and wood ear mushrooms stuffed in rice-flour dough and steamed in a pyramid-shaped banana leaf, with a quail egg inside. It becomes this very silky, very tender, rich dumpling, like a tamale.”
El Super Pan
Hector Santiago on the roast duck from Hong Kong BBQ: “I buy the whole duck, take it home, heat half in a convection oven to get it nice and crispy, and then make white rice and a green bok choy or Chinese broccoli. It makes me feel like I’m eating roast pork and rice back home in Puerto Rico.”
Suzanne Vizethann on the southern fried chicken parm with pasta courto and creamy collards from BoccaLupo: “It’s the perfect dish: salty, crunchy and bursting with umami.”
Brush Sushi, Momonoki and Momo Cafe
Jason Liang on the tofu soup with oysters from Yet Tuh: “Korean food, specifically tofu soup. We (he and his wife) love gul sundubu jjigae, a warm soft tofu soup with oysters. Made with freshly curdled soft tofu, (it) is silky and warm, with the taste of the sea. It has a little Korean heat, but not the numbing and strong spice.
Best Sandwich Shop and Wurst Beer Hall, Federal Burger and Bantam + Biddy
Shaun Doty on the house-cut New York strip and baked potato from Highland Tap: “I grew up in Oklahoma, so steak and potatoes are our thing. We’re uncomplicated people. I love tradition and the classics, and Highland Tap has it figured out. So, I would get a New York strip and baked potato and I’m in heaven.”
Mia Orino on the dal with naan at Chai Pani: “We have it in the Philippines, but we cook it differently. We add coconut cream and different spices. But it’s very similar. It takes me back to childhood, and at the same time, to graduate school. All my friends back then were South Asians: Indians, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans, Bengalis. And back then we all had no money, so we would have potIluck. We would always have a different version of it. So, it brings me back to simpler times.”
Jared Hucks on the tom kha gai hot pot from Little Bangkok: “My mom took me and my brother and our friends to lunch and dinner at Little Bangkok ever since we were in high school, and now I go often with my wife and daughter and still enjoy this dish. With its flames and authentic presentation, it reminds me of family and being together.”
Lino Yi on the seolleongtang at Daejanggum Korean Cuisine: I just love soups. One of my favorites is seolleongtang. It’s basically a bunch of beef scraps, and they just boil it for hours and hours and hours. It becomes a nice white silky broth. I remember eating it as a kid. I’ll eat it for breakfast. You just add rice to it, and if you want to spice things up, add some gochugaru or some kimchi, and it will turn the broth nice and pink.”
Toast on 14th
Virgil Harper on the fried chicken, collard greens, yams and mac and cheese from Southern Fire Kitchen: “It’s the crispiness of the chicken, the creaminess of the mac and cheese that’s nostalgic and brings me back to sitting at mama’s table. You have to take the fork and scoop up the mac and cheese, the sweet potatoes and the collard greens all together. And then take the fork and drag it across the wings and put it in your mouth at the same time. I call it the soul fork.”
Mercer Street Meals
Lance Gummere on the Chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes with black pepper cream gravy from Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q: “If it can’t be the Sunday dinner my grandmother cooked — some version of slow-cooked meat, potatoes and vegetables from her garden — then it would be chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes with creamed gravy from Fox Bros.” Note: Chicken fried steak is available only on Mondays at the Chattahoochee Row location and Thursdays at the DeKalb Avenue location.
More from the AJC Fall 2023 Dining Guide:
The need for comfort food is universal, but each person’s preference is unique. So, we asked a slew of local chefs, folks from the AJC’s newsroom and even famous Atlantans to share the restaurant dish they’ve come to rely on when they want to feel good. Award-winning editorial cartoonist Mike Luckovich even drew a picture to go with his pick.