Located on New Peachtree Road near Buford Highway in Chamblee, the story behind Atlanta Chinatown Mall is a unique one in relation to the emergence of Chinatowns established in cities across the United States over the last century. Unlike other such neighborhoods, created as designated spaces or born from immigrant communities settling there, Atlanta Chinatown was founded in 1988 as an “instant” Chinatown, built as a space catering to metro Atlanta’s burgeoning Chinese and Asian communities.
Stepping through the main entrance, reminiscent of a Qin or Han dynasty palace flanked by guardian lions, Atlanta Chinatown is a blend of traditional and contemporary elements in both design and offerings. At its core, the mall functions as a multifaceted community hub, punctuated by a food court as the centerpiece of the sprawling retail complex. With full-service dim sum restaurant Oriental Pearl anchoring the property to the north, businesses at Atlanta Chinatown include everything from a bookstore, a grocery, and beauty supply shops to tea shops, a Chinese bakery, and even legal, CPA, and translation services.
A serene outdoor courtyard is designed in the style of a traditional Chinese garden, complete with bodhisattvas sculptures, red lanterns, and seating areas meant for reflection. One of Atlanta’s biggest and most beloved Chinese New Year celebrations typically takes place at Atlanta Chinatown.
But the food court at Atlanta Chinatown is its greatest treasure, with stalls serving a range of traditional and regional Chinese dishes all under one roof. It can be difficult to choose just what to eat, especially for first-time visitors overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices found on the menus at the stalls. Eater explored the food court in search of some of the most notable dishes to try. Here’s what we suggest.
Some food court stalls offer complimentary, bottomless hot tea served at the counter.
Master dumplings and malatang at China Kitchen
China Kitchen serves traditional dishes from the city of Chengdu and the region around the country’s Sichuan province. The best dumplings at China Kitchen are the spicy master dumplings, which come swimming in a secret sauce balancing sweet and zesty flavors. Many dishes at China Kitchen are based on family recipes, including the malatang (hot and numbing hot pot) that spends hours simmering to create the deep, complex flavors of the broth and then customized with a variety of proteins and other ingredients. It’s a key street food found all over the Sichuan province.
Spicy chicken and tripe at Chong Qing Hot Pot
Sichuan cuisine can also be found at Chong Qing Hot Pot. This includes the stall’s popular Chongqing spicy chicken tossed with whole hot chili peppers and twice-cooked Chongqing spicy tripe or pork. Both are served with a side of glutinous white rice. Order the dan dan noodles, too, mixed with Sichuan peppers and minced pork garnished with chopped scallions for an herbaceous finish.
Roast duck soup and beef Malay curry at Hong Kong BBQ
This Chinese barbecue stall tucked away in the corner of the food court features whole Cantonese roast ducks and pork hanging behind a window at the stall ready for carving. While you can’t go wrong with crispy duck or pork over rice, the roast duck soup is the move on a chilly day, as is any of the congee (rice porridge). Order the beef Malay curry, featuring tender cuts of meat in a sweet and savory broth with hints of chili pepper.
Ants on a Tree at Nanbei Gourmet
Traditional Sichuan food is a highlight at Nanbei Gourmet. The massive pork buns here are generously stuffed and may leave you full. But if you still have room for more, try the Ants on a Tree, which contains neither ants nor trees. It’s a classic Sichuan noodle dish typically made using thin glass noodles tossed with ground pork, ginger and garlic, chili crisp, rice vinegar, and soy sauce.
Hand-pulled noodles at New Lan Zhou Noodle
Hand-pulled noodles and noodle soups, fresh-made dumplings and tofu, and traditional Chinese breads can all be found at this stall. Start with some sesame or crispy bean paste biscuits and a basket of soup dumplings, before indulging in a hot bowl of noodle-laden soup with protein choices like beef or a trio of shrimp, squid, and chunks of soft white fish. End with a brown sugar cruller. Chinese breakfast dishes are also served at New Lan Zhou Noodle, starting at 10 a.m.
Chinese takeout classics at Top One Gourmet
Top One Gourmet offers what many might consider Chinese-American takeout classics, including salt and pepper calamari, Chinese spare ribs, wontons swimming in chili oil, and heaping mounds of comforting fried rice. Try the mapo tofu at Top One.
Buns at Family Baking
While not technically inside the food court, this Chinese bakery just outside along the front of Atlanta Chinatown is a top-notch spot for grabbing a red bean paste bun or egg custard tart for the road. The flossy pork or scallion bun make for a great savory afternoon snack. Pair a bun from Family Baking with a matcha latte or hazelnut cafe mocha. Vegan options are also available.
Atlanta Chinatown is open daily, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Hours for the restaurant stalls at the food court vary, and many offer online ordering and delivery service.
5383 New Peachtree Road, Chamblee.