Canton House, Chamblee GA

Marie and I would love to learn more about all the interesting and curious – I’m not sold enough to say wonderful or even “good” – food choices available along Buford Highway, and so we’re going to make a more concerted effort to get out of the ‘burbs and over here for more authentic Mexican, Chinese or Korean meals more frequently. As it happens, Marie seems to appreciate most Asian-style cooking a little more than I do, so perhaps we’ll try to give these restaurants a shot when we can go together, and maybe I’ll focus on the taquerias and Latin American cuisine when I get out on my own.

So the first place that we visited with this new resolve is the very popular Canton House, which has a reputation for being one of the best places in the city to try dim sum. I seem to know my way around barbecue and hot dogs, but I had never tried dim sum before. It’s where you sit down and a small company of servers push carts around and offer various appetizer-sized dishes of heaven-only-knows. Most of the servers don’t seem to speak English very well, and so we passed on quite a few things because we were not completely certain what they were offering!

Most of what we did try was pretty good, and all of it unexpected and fun. I would never have tried that little sesame seed ball filled with red bean paste if somebody hadn’t offered it to me. Nothing was really outstanding – in fact, the fried shrimp would probably not have passed muster at a Captain D’s – but it was fun, and the servers were uniformly very friendly, even if some of them couldn’t help us out very much.

Canton House looks like a decaying old hotel ballroom, with peeling wallpaper, little barriers in the back, and quite beautiful chandeliers. I’m not certain when it opened – the late 1990s, maybe? – but it packs ’em in. We arrived about 11.20 on a Saturday and the place was almost full. I’d encourage anybody unfamiliar to jump right in like we did. You’re certain to find the servers ready to put food on your table. Having told the hostess that we’d have dim sum rather than the regular menu, we were shown our seats. Seeing that we had no menus, and were dim sum customers, we were offered food before we were actually in our chairs.

The one down side is that, even if you’re planning to eat lightly, it’s not really easy, or even possible for all I know, to know how much of a bill you’re piling as you go. It would appear that Marie and I ate quite reasonably, only about $16 for the pair of us, until we were offered a large plate of calamari. While this was really quite good, and my favorite thing that we tried, it also belonged to a separate price scale. The trick, if you’re watching the wallet, is to only take foods from the small plates that come around on the loaded carts. If somebody offers you a plate of something and that’s all they have, one plate, and they’re looking for a table where they may leave it, that’ll be closer to ten dollars than a buck seventy-five.

Other blog posts about Canton House:

Atlanta Etc. (Oct. 30 2009)
The Cynical Cook (Sep. 19 2010)
Hominy Homily (Feb. 12 2011)
Food Near Snellville (Apr. 4 2011)


11 thoughts on “Canton House, Chamblee GA

  1. I am so happy you have decided to cruise Buford Hwy but Canton House would not have been my choice for your 1st Dim Sum experience. Next time, drive a bit further north and go to Chef Liu’s (5283 Buford Hwy). Also order the hot and sour soup. 2 Vietnamese places to try are Pho Dai Loi (4186 Buford) and Pho Bac (4897 Buford). After all that, follow Buford about 1 mile north of I-285 and visit The White Windmill Bakery. You can sit and have an incredible cup of tea and a sweet. It’s a gorgeous, French inspired Korean bakery and tea/coffee shop. (5881 Buford Hwy)

    1. We should probably do Vietnamese the next time we come to Chamblee. I don’t think Marie’s ever had pho. I know that I sure haven’t. Thanks for the ideas!

  2. Oh my god…if you are not familiar with the wonders of buhi, my hub and I can help you to see the light! one of the best sandwiches that you will ever have is at a place called quoc huong in Asian square about a mile itp from 285. Asian square used to have a ranch 99 store that left a few years (no doubt right around the time that the super h mart in chamblee opened up). Asian square has a blue metal roof that is hard to miss and quoc huong is in there. go inside and order the BBQ bahn mi and prepare to have your mind blown. we have been going there for about 20 years and it’s still our fav for both bahn mi sandwiches and pho. they also have outstanding mini spring rolls (cha gio) that are served with a “hand salad” of herbs and veg to wrap around them. if you feel like it, email me and we can discuss this and other wonderful places along buhi without using up blog bandwidth.

  3. I really need to proofread before I send. the sandwich is a BBQ PORK bahn mi. sorry bout that . 🙂

    1. We actually went with Lee’s Bakery over Quoc Huong for banh mi just yesterday, but I’m sure we will be back before long. Maybe Korean on our next trip together, though…

  4. As of the moment, Golden House dim sum (up on the Duluth end of town) seems to have the peak critical acclaim. That said, I can’t count the times I’ve been to Canton House.

    Now, I’d disagree with your recommendation that people only take small plates. if there is a problem with Dim Sum eating, it’s that you can get the same product again and again – it’s just wrapped in a different outside. It’s pretty easy to end up eating way too much shrimp at these places. When dim sum eateries offer a tray of Chinese broccoli, or a plate of mussels, I just grab and I don’t worry about price.

    Just a FYI – I don’t like the way White Windmill treats non-Koreans. I’ve seen the bad side of that, and it isn’t pretty.


    1. Despite your encouraging report about Golden House, here’s the definition of sprawlnnui: I’m going to Lagrange for a hot dog next month, but the prospect of suffering along Pleasant Hill Road for anything leaves me with the trembles.

      1. Oh, I’m *keenly* aware of how I’m ranked in every Urbanspoon region about which I care, and very much doubt anybody’s going to challenge me in Urbanspoon Georgia without a lot of work (I say with a chuckle). But yes, the “outside-major-metros” region really is odd in every state. It kind of makes sense for, say, Oxford and Starkville to be grouped together within “Urbanspoon Mississippi,” but putting Rome, Clayton, Thomasville and Saint Simons Island all together as one place is really odd.

    2. We’ve been to Canton House and a few other places but we really like Happy Valley over off Jimmy Carter Blvd. The times that we’ve been there we’ve had great service and the food was excellent! BTW, you *must* try the chicken feet, they’re really good! I know some foods aren’t for everyone, but I have really enjoyed the chicken feet, duck feet, tripe, innard stew (I have no idea what was in it, but it was pretty good), intestines and duck tongue (yeap, you read that right….many ducks gave up their tongues for that Szechuan delicacy). I have only three rules when it comes to food. 1) no bugs 2) no brains (prion diseases are NOT cool) and 3) NO BALUT.
      YMMV. 🙂

      By the way, I’ve been to White Windmill many times and I’m white. They’ve always been very friendly to us…..

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