Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Does Huong Giang mean Gem?

I do not know what Huong Giang means, but I would translate it as gem. That is what this strip mall restaurant tucked away on Buford Highway is.

A few weeks ago a friend and I were driving around looking for dinner on a Friday night. I wanted Asian food. After passing on a few suspicious looking dives, we stumbled upon Huong Giang. We peered inside and decided it was worth a try. Although the decor said "strip-mall", it was about as tasteful as it could be without the budget that is truly required to give a strip mall shop any real character. The Asian accents were strangely offset by a couple of chandeliers with mermaids "holding up" the lampshades with fishing poles. The flat screen TV's were playing cultural appropriate programming. The only real downside is the chairs. The backs strangely lean forward, forcing one to hunch over a bit.

We were promptly presented two menus each, one written, one in pictures. The pictures proved to be very helpful. Our first course was Bahn Nam, little Vietnamese "tamales" of ground pork and shrimp nestled in a rice flour package and steamed in banana leaves. Not only were they tasty, but fun. Every little package was like Christmas morning after you peeked at your presents. Sure, I knew what was in there, but is was still fun to open the presents.

Our entree was a Thai Hot Pot. Large enough for two, the $28.00 entree was worth every penny. The pot of hot stock was placed upon a small gas burner and served with a plate of seafood and one of vegetables. The seafood consisted of shrimp, fish and calamari and the vegetable plate had baby bok choy and julienned strips of banana flower.

The waiter gave us a brief tutorial and we dug in. It seemed nice enough until I put the banana flowers in the pot and this incredible fragrance wafted across our table. The broth was nicely flavored with ginger, and the addition of the flowers made it a heavenly experience. I enjoy food that is also interactive, and this fit the bill nicely.

Throughout our dinner, the service was impeccable. At one point, I dropped my chop stick. Before I could bend over to pick it up, the server had a new set to me. Our table was maintained in a timely manner, without seeming pushy.

I wanted to try a little more before I wrote about it, so I went there for lunch today. The sour pig ear and beef was calling my name. I have never pondered the possible flavor and texture of a pig's ear, but I would say this was the ultimate expression of a pig's ear. The cold, stubby, spring roll shaped treat arrived with a few slices of hot peppers. It had a delicious, slightly sour, flavor and a unique texture. A hint of gelatinous spring was subdued by the firm bite of the finely shredded ear. A slight bite of heat rounded out the flavor. And at only $2.15, this was a bargain.

For my main course, I chose rice noodles with pork and seafood in a pork broth. As with my other items, this was very well executed. The shrimp and calamari were tender and the slices of pork were melt-in-your-mouth tender. With tax and tip, my lunch was $12.00. I look forward to returning to try the other gems that are hidden in this great little find.

Huong Giang
4300 Buford Highway NE
Atlanta, GA 30345


$3.00 - $6.00


$6.00 - $60.00 (Family style serving)


10 a.m.-midnight Mondays-Thursdays

10 a.m.-2 a.m. Fridays-Saturdays

10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sundays

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Note about No

One should not accept no too easily. When dad says no, go ask mom. The same approach is possible in adulthood.

While driving to Birmingham for my overnighter, I spoke with one of my clients who said he would not be able to meet with me as we discussed earlier. It would have to be the following morning. My overnighter had become a two-nighter. While checking in at the hotel, I said I needed to change my reservation from one night to two. The answer, in so many words, was no. The manager informed me that they were currently overbooked and I could check in the morning. I took my room key and found my room. I then promptly pulled out my laptop and signed onto the Internet, where I reserved a room for the second night.

The next morning, I went to the front desk stating that I was there to confirm that they would not be making move to another room. Sure enough, they did not.

I have had similar experiences in the past. I was told on the phone that there were no available rooms. So I went online and booked a room. The reverse has also happened. This just goes to show you, that no does not always mean no.