We’re profiling five of 2017’s most exciting new restaurants in the South—one per day, in the order they opened.
Opened: February 2017
Some great chefs will tell you their first modest cooking job was at a diner. Amy Wong can do them one better. “I was a hawker in Malaysia,” she proudly declares. Born into a Chinese Malaysian family, Wong began her career selling noodles from a street stall at the age of 15, and she’s been behind a stove, wok, or propane burner ever since. “I love to cook. I love to cook,” she repeats with emphasis.
Atlantans love her right back. They loved her cooking at Top Spice, the sleek Thai/Malaysian restaurants that always outshone the strip malls in which they were located. They loved it at Sweet Hut, her Chinese bakery cafe. And they’re going bonkers for it at this vast, thrilling celebration of Malaysia’s street food and its mishmash of southern Chinese, Indian, and native Malay flavors. Paying homage to the modern hot pot of her Buford Highway neighbors, she throws in Korean, Japanese, and Thai flavors with brash confidence. This restaurant sets the stage for Buford Highway 2.0.
Wong’s son-in-law, Tao Lin, designed the techno-industrial look of the restaurant as well as the hilarious and informative menu, mocked up like a glossy food magazine and nearly as thick as the September Vogue. “Every time I go back to Malaysia, I bring back new dishes,” she explains. Pan mee noodles with Thai chilies, stuffed yong tofu, poached Hainanese chicken, cumin lamb skewers, fantastic kimchi fried rice, and gorgeous okra in a sweet-funky sambal are some dishes that hint at the scope of this menu. The top seller, Grandma barbecue pork, comes right from Wong’s mother. “That’s the dish I always make for a dinner party at home.”
Don’t miss: “Cheese ’n cheese,” a super-heated hot plate in which cheese-bacon fried rice happens before your eyes.