Over the last four years, all my old stereotypes of Chinese food have been dismantled and demolished, and I have started to enjoy the pleasure of finding more authentic cooking. At this stage, there are only a couple of places in the Atlanta area that we’ve visited a second or third time as we look for more places with exciting menus to add to our small knowledge base. I think we can safely add Doraville’s Man Chun Hong to that short list. This is definitely a place we want to visit again repeatedly.
It’s owned by the same family who run Hae Woon Dae, a Korean barbecue place a few traffic lights south on Buford Highway, and it was apparently not all that traditional when it first opened in late 2005. While the suburban Golden-This-Happy-That joints we grew up with might be accused of adapting Chinese dishes for American palates, the recipes here had been adapted, somewhat less dramatically, for Koreans. Their more traditional Sichuan dishes, introduced a little later, are on a separate menu entirely, and when you visit, make certain that you ask for both of them. You will then spend several minutes considering more than a hundred different dishes. Or just go with the Shan City chicken. That’ll do.
Several of the dishes listed were unfamiliar to us, and on our first visit, Marie jumped right in with a quite neat half-and-half combo. Her meal, served in one bowl, had fried rice covered with a black bean sauce on one side, and a steaming hot order of jambong (alternately spelled jjampong by some places online) in the other. This is a medium-spicy soup with octopus, mussels, and shrimp, and she was very pleased with it.
On each of our visits, I have ordered the Shan City chicken, and dare I say that it is even better than Tasty China’s version. This was absolutely fantastic. The chicken is incredibly flavorful and cooked just right. Just a few grilled onions really accentuated the heat. While every bit as numbing and happily painful as Tasty China’s, I simply found myself much more taken with this version. I’d love to go back and try more things on the menu, but I am going to want this again for the foreseeable future.
Speaking of Tasty China, perhaps you might recall that in the spring, Marie and I had an excellent meal there, and returned, a week later, in the company of her mother only to have the service fall off a truck that night and turn into a long, agonizing catastrophe? Well, about three weeks after our first visit to Man Chun Hong, we tempted fate by bringing Marie’s mother and meeting our friends Helen and Vincent. The service was even better than on our first trip, I’m happy to say. This was excellent. We enjoyed cumin lamb and broiled eggplant and some tripe dish, along with more Shan City tongue-tingling wonderfulness.
It certainly doesn’t look like much from the outside – and don’t you love the 1970s “kung fu movie” font that they found for the sign?! – but while this place has been somewhat overlooked by writers over the last couple of years, it should not be missed. Hands down, this is one of the very best Chinese restaurants in the city.
Other blog posts about Man Chun Hong:
Creative Loafing Atlanta (Dec. 3 2008)
Eat Buford Highway (Jan. 14 2009)
Food Near Snellville (Jan. 31 2011)
Review Atlanta (Apr. 11 2014)
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