Ming’s Bar B Q is a venerable and well respected institution, respected enough to have a devoted following among bloggers. The store in Duluth is just to the west and south of the Pleasant Hill – I-85 exit, which places it within 15-20 minutes of most people in Snellville. The outside is good looking and the inside of the new location is pretty, using a lot of black and natural wood colors. The staff of the Duluth location are largely fashionably dressed, usually in black.

Coke and silverware at Ming's

I’ve been here (and at the Buford Highway location) about five times now, trying to figure out what I like and what I didn’t like. My epiphany came with the following dish, which I didn’t think I was ordering, but due to a smart waiter, I did..

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BBQ Pork & Duck on Rice with Green Vegetables

This is “R6″, or “BBQ Pork & Duck on Rice with Green Vegetables”, a mix of duck and honey BBQ on rice, with vegetables. This is the dish that helped open my eyes to the possibilities of this restaurant. It’s more than enough meat, it gives you a taste of Ming’s steamed vegetables, and is very inexpensive. Some of the best dishes here cost less than $6.00.

We’ve been coming back to Mings in part because my mother-in-law took a fancy to Ming’s pan fried noodles. This is what she’s started getting, rain or shine. If you get it “to go”, the noodles come in one container and the chicken and vegetables will come in another. Our house has narrowed in on that as their staple. I’ve been tending more to duck over rice, since I know the rest of my family will never finish their noodles (by the way, the closest dish to Ming’s pan fried noodles I know of are the crispy noodles at What the Pho?).

Other dishes that I’ve tried include the chow fun with curry sauce, which was good and subtle in its spicing. The noodles I received were actually pretty dry. The dish had pork in it, as advertised in the menu, but also bits of egg, small shrimp, any number of little culinary surprises. There was a dry powdery spice on the noodles, and a very small amount of heat, and a very large amount of flavor.

It’s taken me days to get used to the enormous menu, so these are my suggestions if you’ve never been to Mings. The special side order are really their staple meats. Look at the meats and decide which ones you like. Try them in the rice plates. Choose a rice plate you think you’ll like. That’s the staple, the base here, from which you can expand and try things out. The reason I say this is the menu has well over 100 items, and that doesn’t count specials they may have on the walls, or on their whiteboard on entering.

If you make a ton of rice at home, I’ll note that Ming’s meats to go plus a lot of rice is becoming popular in our household. As far as the rest of the menu, it’s a bit like exploring a different kind of world. For example, one family member ordered chicken with broccoli. When I made the order at Ming’s, I was asked, “Chinese broccoli or crown broccoli?” I decided on the Chinese vegetable, which is tender and tasty and sweet, but also a little bitter at the same time. To be using “good” and “bitter” in the same sentence is new to me, but it’s very real and very true.

My take home is this is an inexpensive restaurant with room to explore. That said, I won’t recommend specific dishes. I’ll just say you should go, try things, find what you like. If you find your niche here, you’ll be rewarded with plenty of good, subtle, inexpensive food.

Verdict: Inexpensive place to get tasty meats and other Chinese delicacies. Terrific bang for the buck. Very Highly Recommended.

Mings BBQ has two locations

(Mall Corner Shopping Center)
2131 Pleasant Hill Road Suite #134
Duluth, GA 30096
(770) 623-9996

(in Asian Square, in the very back and far left if you’re facing Ranch Market)
5150 Buford Highway
Atlanta, GA 30340
(770) 451-6985

Ming's Bar B Q (Duluth) on Urbanspoon

Ming's Bar B.Q. on Urbanspoon

Final note: I know this restaurant has its own Internet troll. I will delete troll messages about this restaurant.

Lee’s Bakery has been hard to find for me. I usually drive up and down Buford, stopping where the CDC has a branch office. It always seemed to me to be the end of all the ethnic stores in the area. Finally, this time, I drove past and kept going south, and I finally found Lee’s Bakery in a strip mall on the left hand side, near a Chevron. Interestingly, there was also a branch of Co’m Vietnamese Grill in the same strip mall.

I came here because Lee’s Bakery is always the store by which Quoc Huong is compared. It’s one of the best known banh mi sources in the city.  And they do have banh mi. $2.50 a sandwich to go, $3.00 on site. They also have some interesting soups, and the crab noodle soup was the one I ordered. The banh mi came first.

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Number 4, grilled pork banh mi (excellent!)

Eating that sandwich was one of two WOW banh mi moments I’ve had. The first was my first Quoc Huong sandwich. And other, later Quoc Huong sandwiches never were quite the same, never matched the freshness of the bread of the original. This sandwich just has good warm bread, warm tasty meat, good balance in its vegetables and then you get hit by a dose of heat and spice. Short version: the sandwich was excellent.

The crab noodle soup had a surprise waiting for me, even though it looks awesome.

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Number 6, crab noodle soup

It’s made using fish sauce (good links on fish sauce are here and here). I hadn’t had any dishes made from fish sauce before, that I was aware of, but you could smell it in this dish. The crab is ground fine and then made into small rounded masses about the size of the end of my big finger. You have to hunt for them through the dish. And of course, the soup has good taste. When I mentioned the scent to my waiter, he replied, “Smells kind of fishy, huh?”

Service, if I haven’t said, was extremely good.

Verdict: Considered a banh mi haven and it is surely that. Other interesting ethnic dishes abound. Highly Recommended.

4005 Buford Highway Suite C
Atlanta, GA 30345
(404) 728-1008

Lee's Bakery on Urbanspoon

One of the more intriguing chapters in Mark Kurlansky’s excellent book “Salt: A World History” was chapter four, which discusses the development of the Roman fish sauce garum, and the independent development of fish sauce in Asia, almost certainly beginning in Vietnam.

Don’t let the outside of Buford Highway Farmer’s Market fool you. I have avoided this place for the longest time because it’s a little tricky to get into and the parking lot, on weekends, always looks like a crazy mess. The building is older and I was just shy of the place. But a coworker of mine, Veronica, told me she does all her meat shopping there, and that it was inexpensive. I had nothing to lose, so I stopped by there today.

It was surprisingly neat and clean. The classic farmer’s market in town is a little cramped, with produce fighting for space with other produce, with boxes stacked here and there. Not here. Except for the older floors, the cleanliness approached a suburban supermarket. Produce was cheap and cleanly labeled. Aisles were not cramped, they were spacious and wide.

In the produce section, I bought some garlic, some beautiful red cherry peppers (triangular shaped though), a couple peppers called a long hot pepper, some green onions, and some tomatillos, so perhaps we can try Innocent Primate’s salsa verde sometime.

Tomatillos, cheery peppers, long hot peppers and other produce from Buford Highway.

Tomatillos, cherry peppers, long hot peppers and other produce from Buford Highway.

In the back there was a bakery (with freshly wrapped stacks of tortillas) and a butcher shop. Prices were lower than the equivalent supermarket items. There were a lot more organ meats than you would find in a typical store – beef hearts and pork hearts, pigs feet and other organ meats. There were fish swimming in tanks, ready to be sold (or filleted). Fish already packaged was clearly labeled with the place it came from. But I wasn’t here for fish, for the most part. I was looking at legumes and grains.

This is an international market, and in this instance, the origin of the groceries was divided on an aisle by aisle basis and clearly labeled. I’ll note that you can get red lentils in the Hispanic aisle, along with various sizes of green lentils. In the American aisle, there were at least four different brands of beans. And unlike Publix, the N. K. Hurst products here (we have spoken of N. K. Hurst before) are competitively priced with all the other vendors.

Most interesting to me was the Indian foods aisle. This is the closest place I’ve found for bulk Indian dals and bulk Indian spices (most supplied by a Houston company, Spicy World of USA, Inc). In this section they have standard green lentils, brown lentils (masoor dal whole), and black lentils (urad or urid dals). Others dals include moong dals (mung bean based), chana dals (chick peas), kala chana (black chickpeas), and mahdi toor dals. They have garam masala in bulk, along with a variety of other spices. They have a version of sambar powder, which if I recall correctly was prized back in my school days for cooking vegetables.

Buford Highway Farmer's Market on Urbanspoon

After shopping here, I headed north up the street to a placed called the White Windmill Bakery and Cafe. I had been wanting to stop there because the place just looks fantastic from the outside. So I managed to pull over this time and took a peek inside. It’s a Korean bakery, by Koreans and largely for Koreans.  The store has a counter with sweets, rows of breads, and several tables to sit. In terms of foods, I saw fancy coffee and tea,  quality chocolates, exquisite tarts (but around $5.00 each), beautiful small cakes. My wife likes bean curd sweets, so I found a red bean curd bun for my wife and then got a cream bun for my daughter. I’ll have to tell you later what they thought of them.

White Windmill Bakery and Cafe on Urbanspoon

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