New Malaysian spot in Chamblee

GA Voice - - Outspoken -

Here’s how it usu­ally goes: You drive out Bu­ford High­way in search of an “au­then­tic, eth­nic” restau­rant. That means a hole-inthe-wall where lamb tes­ti­cles are served amid a dé­cor whose pri­mary fea­ture is a framed health depart­ment eval­u­a­tion. The food is “ex­otic” and the prices are low.

That’s chang­ing and the best ex­am­ple right now is

Hwy., com), Food Ter­mi­nal (5000 Bu­ford 678-3530-6110, foodter­mi­nal.

a new, mainly Malaysian restau­rant that shocks the eyes if not the palate al­to­gether. Although it’s full-ser­vice, it is meant to re­sem­ble a con­tem­po­rary Asian food court, com­pletely free of stereo­typ­i­cal imagery. You’ll have plenty of time to check out the space while you wait for a ta­ble. Food Ter­mi­nal has be­come wildly pop­u­lar and you can ex­pect a 30-minute wait.

The look and qual­ity of the restau­rant’s cui­sine – mainly good “street food” – is not sur­pris­ing when you re­al­ize it is from the same peo­ple who op­er­ate Ma­mak, Top Spice and the fran­ti­cally mul­ti­ply­ing bak­ery/café Sweet Hut, which ev­ery­one loves.

Five of us vis­ited Food Ter­mi­nal last Fri­day. Dur­ing our wait, I browsed the 47-page menu. It’s ac­tu­ally in the form of a glossy mag­a­zine with highly styled photos of many dishes. You pe­ruse it and, as you make your choices, you check them off on an or­der form. We ate a ton of food but didn’t come close to dent­ing the menu.

Malaysian cook­ing is a fu­sion of Chi­nese, Thai and In­dian cuisines, among oth­ers. In all hon­esty, my fiery mouth found much of the food bland. For ex­am­ple, a plate of crunchy, other­wise de­li­cious okra was topped with sam­bal, typ­i­cally a hot sauce. I lit­er­ally did not get a slight sting from it. Ditto for the oddly taste­less Thai chili egg­plant. The only fire on our ta­ble was some steamed Sichuan dumplings. Among other small plates and sides, wa­ter­cress with black bean sauce was a fa­vorite, but Chi­nese broc­coli with oys­ter sauce lagged, at least for me. A bowl of springy fish balls was served tepidly tasty in a pink curry. Get­ting my drift? The food is good. It’s just not boldly fla­vored enough for me. Food Ter­mi­nal’s wa­ter­cress with black bean sauce is one of the bet­ter small plates ac­cord­ing to Cliff Bo­s­tock. (Photo by Cliff Bo­s­tock)

Larger plates did bet­ter. I or­dered the gi­gan­tic noo­dle bowl of bone mar­row broth with big cubes of pork belly. A few big pig bones were in the bowl with their mar­row mainly out of reach. I sucked and sucked but each bone de­nied me my re­ward. Mar­row did of course melt into the broth while cook­ing, mak­ing it a bit creamy, es­pe­cially with the soft-boiled egg. The pork belly grossed out the rest of the ta­ble. “You’re eat­ing pure fat!” Well, duh. De­li­cious.

Other large plates we sam­pled in­cluded clas­sic ren­dang, sweet and spicy stewed beef. Ac­tu­ally, it was sweeter than spicy, but so it goes. “Grandma’s Bar­be­cue,” a Can­tonese dish, is served in sev­eral man­ners, but we got the ver­sion with tossed noo­dles. I liked it, as well as a chicken curry. I re­gret not try­ing any desserts. They get raves – not sur­pris­ing since Sweet Hut is a sis­ter restau­rant.

Over­all, I liked Food Ter­mi­nal. The restau­rant is barely a month old, and the over­whelmed kitchen will work out any kinks soon enough. Oh. If you have more than a 20-minute wait, I’d head to the huge City Farm­ers Mar­ket be­hind the restau­rant. You’ll be amazed.

Cliff Bo­s­tock is a former psy­chother­a­pist now spe­cial­iz­ing in life coach­ing. Con­tact him at 404-518-4415 or cliff­bo­

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