Big Joy, Marietta GA

Big Joy is the first of two restaurants that we have visited recently – come back Saturday for a story about another – that offer a fun, modern American-style take on traditional flavors from Asia. This time out, the flavors are Korean, and they’re offered principally in either wraps or in bowls. The inspiration behind this place seems to be fast casual burrito joints like Moe’s or Willy’s, where guests walk down a line selecting ingredients to add to their order. All of their principal dishes of bibimbaps or burritos start as vegetarian offerings, although a few meats can be added. The veggies looked so good and so fresh that I didn’t figure that I needed any chicken or steak this evening.

We’re under no obligation to craft a chapter about every single place that we visit, and Big Joy very nearly cost us our goodwill, as I’ll explain, but I felt for the owner. He and the other person working on the evening that we all stopped by were just extremely friendly and nice. The food was much better than average, and they’re working out the kinks in a tough location. This stretch of Delk Road in Marietta is trying to come back to life. The movie theatre that once anchored this strip mall has closed and is now home to a Whirly-Ball arena. Most of their neighboring tenants seem to be selling artificial hair. They need a little help to make it, but first, they’ll probably need a larger kitchen.

The problem for families having supper is that there simply is not enough room, and not enough cooking instruments, in the kitchen to handle a family who comes in together and orders several different things. Any one person stepping in at a slow time can probably get a very tasty meal, but when a group arrives with different ideas about what to get, everything collapses.

Case in point: I wanted to try a bibimbap bowl with several veggies over rice. While these were being grilled up, my daughter’s chicken was being baked. I sat down with my food first. I was about half finished before her chicken came up. She and I had both finished eating before my wife and baby got their grilled tilapia, and the two orders of baked French “fries” came up. Since I’d put a spicy hot sauce all over my food, and since the popcorn chicken was dripping with a sweet goop that Marie vetoed the baby trying, the toddler had a long and impatient wait for his meal.

It’s good food, served with a smile, and I wish all the best for them, but right now, their system is just painfully inefficient. It’s worth a try, but go by yourself off-peak time to have a good meal. If you go with a group, make sure everybody sticks to the bibimbaps.

You can see all the restaurants that we have visited for our blog on this map, with links back to the original blog posts. It’s terrific for anybody planning a road trip through the southeast!