Good Luck Gourmet is ‘pretty damn hot!’

GA Voice - - Outspoken -

When Gu’s Bistro closed about a year ago, At­lanta lovers of Chi­nese cui­sine wept. That’s not to say they weren’t weep­ing when the restau­rant was open, since its menu fea­tured Sichuan cui­sine, China’s spici­est. The restau­rant moved to a pared-down booth at Krog Street Mar­ket, mainly fea­tur­ing its pop­u­lar dumplings. Alas, it’s not been very well re­ceived.

Mean­while, a new restau­rant opened in the old Gu’s lo­ca­tion and I’m tempted to call it ev­ery bit as good as Gu’s, maybe better.

Good Luck Gourmet (5750 Bu­ford Hwy., 770-451-8118, www.good­luck­

em­pha­sizes the cui­sine of China’s Shaanxi Prov­ince, which bor­ders Sichuan. So it’s not sur­pris­ing that Good Luck also makes use of hot pep­pers, if more mod­er­ately, and some­times com­bined with the numb­ing, tin­gling pep­pers also pop­u­lar in Sichuan.

I might as well warn you at the out­set that this is a restau­rant with a menu of more than 100 items. More­over, the staff speaks quite halt­ing English, so you’re not likely to get an ex­pla­na­tion of dishes any more elab­o­rate than you’ll find on the menu.

I con­fess that when I vis­ited a few weeks ago with friends, I was not in a very ad­ven­tur­ous mood. So, I by­passed pig ears, tripe, and, above all, the tofu and fish head casse­role. We started with an or­der of su­per-ten­der pork dumplings afloat in mild chili oil and a plate of the restau­rant’s fa­mous dry-fried string beans that fur­nish a bit of crunch, a mod­er­ate tang, and a melt­ing salti­ness. The beans were ac­tu­ally not on the ap­pe­tizer menu, but listed un­der veg­eta­bles. It’s hard to find any­thing here over $15, so give your­self plenty of lib­erty with the menu when shar­ing.

The best dish on our ta­ble was a “dry” bowl of spicy lamb with some veg­gies, which ap­pears in quite a few dishes here. I’m loathe to or­der lamb in many Chi­nese restau­rants, be­cause it’s of­ten mut­ton, the meat of older sheep with a gamey taste and tough tex­ture. But this was lamb for real, cut into bone-in chunks, and served broth­less, but mys­te­ri­ously and mildly spiced. My prej­u­dice did keep me from or­der­ing the mut­ton that leads the list of chef ’s rec­om­men­da­tions. I later learned I was stupid. It’s the house spe­cialty – a bowl full of lamb broth, noo­dles, sliced lamb, and pieces of a Chi­nese flat­bread. Friends told me it’s not gamey.

My own en­trée was a plate of fried jumbo shrimp heav­ily scat­tered with crispy chili pieces, tossed with some onions and red bell pep­per. Our server re­peated at least three times “hot, very hot, you like hot?” Yes, I like hot and, oh my, it was pretty damn hot, but way too de­li­cious to come close to ined­i­ble. A friend or­dered another shrimp dish, “Ar­gentina red shrimp with gin­ger and scal­lion.” To my taste, it was the bland­est dish on the ta­ble, re­sem­bling some­thing you’d find in a Chi­nese Amer­i­can spot. We also or­dered bone-in braised chicken with noo­dles – another win­ner.

After din­ner, we wad­dled to the car and drove to the nearby

White Wind­mill (5881 Bu­ford Hwy., 770-234-0914, www.whitewind­,

a Korean bak­ery and cafe with sev­eral lo­ca­tions in the sub­urbs. The dry pas­tries are su­per-crumbly and low on fla­vor. The cakes and tarts, how­ever, hit the spot.

Cliff Bo­s­tock, PhD, is a long­time At­lanta food critic and for­mer psy­chother­a­pist who now prac­tices life coach­ing for cre­ative types; 404-518-4415.

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