Pleasure in Pain — It’s a Chengdu Thing
When people ask me if I miss China, I tell them the truth: I miss Chengdu. Chengdu was a place where every restaurant and side-shop dished out something memorable. The hallmark of Szechuan cuisine is its intense heat, a numbing sensation that makes your forehead glisten with sweat and your eyes swell up with tears. It’s painful and beautiful at the same time, and as the heat builds, so does your desire for more. As I mentioned when I was in Chengdu, the heat is of a tasty variety. It’s sweet or bitter or sour. Dishes are not infernos just for the sake of being fiery infernos.
My friends recently told me that there is a place in Atlanta that comes very close to Chengdu: Gu’s Bistro. Not soon enough we were driving down Buford headed towards the deep recesses of a strip mall.
thin slivers of seared pork belly
We ordered a number of things: Chengdu dumplings, cold noodles, pork belly, fish and a beef dish. While the dumplings and the noodles were not ideal, the pork belly, fish and beef were as close to Chengdu as I’m going to get. With every bite my nose was running more and more. In so many words, the back of my throat was alive. The crispy pork belly, the signature red hue from peppercorns that runs deep in every Chengdu broth, the whole chilies that look like garnishes but act like dangerous bodyguards — the food of Chengdu and at Gu’s Bistro is not for the faint of spice or heat. Proceed with caution, but understand that should you find pleasure in pain, another world awaits you.
a broth that takes on the color of red peppercorns and chili flakes. Below the surface, white, flaky fish
5750-A Buford Hwy
Doraville, GA 30340