There are sections of Buford Highway that are essentially other countries, other continents. That makes for interesting exploring for the culinary adventurer. There’s lots of Asian food to taste, especially Sichuan, Dim Sum, Pho, and Korean BBQ. But what if you’d like to taste what every day Chinese eat in Beijing? Your best bet is probably Northern Chinese Eatery, located on Buford Highway.
They are notoriously difficult to find the first time. The restaurant is located in the basement of the Italy Optical building, near the intersection of Shallowford, across the street from Asian Square. You will have to drive around the side of the building because the restaurant doesn’t face the street. And don’t expect to hear much English, though they have a very good English menu with few translation mistakes. The wait staff knows enough English to take your order, but speaking slowly and point at the item you want on the menu to make it easier.
Don’t expect much in the way of décor. About the only decorations are red paper lanterns leftover from Spring Festival. It’s the opposite of fancy. But it is reasonably clean, the furnishings used but functional, and the service is good and fast. The prices are very reasonable and serving sizes large, so go with friends so you can try more dishes or expect leftovers.
The menu is divided into sections and I’ve yet to find something I didn’t like. The hot pots and dumplings are all good. I’m particularly fond of the small fennel and pork dumplings (a dozen for $4.95) and the Juicy Shanghai Buns ($5.95). The latter is literally pork soup inside an oversized dumpling. They are served in the bamboo steamer tray because they are fragile. When I tried them in their native country, they came with a straw. If you didn’t think to bring one, pop the entire bun in your mouth or plan to wear the soup.
It’s the cold dishes that make this such a homey stop. Thinly sliced pig ear ($2.95), seaweed salad or shredded potatoes ($2.95) are big hits for me.
This restaurant is not for everyone, only the adventurous. Start with dishes I’ve suggested. If that goes well, then try a few others on a second visit.
Northern Chinese Eatery
5141 Buford Hwy, Ste C
Doraville, GA 30340