Sunday, February 20, 2011

My Trip to Shangri-La

Shangri-la bistro that is.  Today my family had a wonderful meal at one of the new interesting restaurants in the Atlanta area.  Shangri-La Bistro is a small restaurant in Marietta, GA that specializes in "Chinese Tibetan Cuisine".  I have wanted to pay them a visit since reading the review in the AJC when they first opened.   They have 2 locations and we visited the newest one located on Johnson's Ferry Road. 
The first impression was a little less than stellar.  I had a hard time finding the place because I was expecting a strip mall restaurant but its located in half of an convenience store.  The location proved to be no problem.  When you enter you are surrounded with all the accouterments you would expect in a Tibetan bistro,  prayer flags, thankgas, mantras, and all the colorful silks and lanterns.

They weren't busy during our visit and we received the 5 star treatment.  The restaurant doubles as a gift shop with many Tibetan wares available for purchase.

We started our meal off with the Amdo MoMos.  These are the signature appetizer.  They were awesome.  Momos are Tibetan dumplings and they are worth the trip.  They are filled with spicy ground lamb and dipped in a soy sauce or hot sauce.  I didn't ask for the hot sauce because I wanted everyone to share.  To go with the momos I ordered a pot of butter tea - It was excellent.  Its made with yak butter, black tea, salt and they add sugar to make it sweet.  I've had the unsweetened version which is definitely an acquired taste.  My wife and niece even gave it a try but decided Sprite and Iced Tea were better choices for them.

On to the main dishes,  the menu is pretty extensive with some selections that appear at any chinese restaurant.  My niece went with her go to selection of Sesame Chicken.  It was nicely done.  Sweet but not overly so, better than the quick hitter Chinese lunch places on Buford Hwy.  My wife was more adventurous.  She chose the Tibetan Chicken over Rice.  It was perfectly done.  Very flavorful and the spices are just so unique its hard to compare it to anything or figure out what they are.

It was hard to believe it would get better but it did when my plate arrive.  I had ordered the specialty, the yak.  They have 3 styles 2 that are mild and the last which the waiter/owner introduced as spicy.  Of course I went straight for the spicy.  It was shredded yak full of chiles and spice on a bed of baby bok choy and ummmm was it good.  My wife was the first to try a bit and that was what she recieved, A BIG BITE,  the spice got as soon as the fork left her mouth but she loved it.  She doesn't eat hot food but the flavors were so good and unique that she couldn't help but enjoy it.  I found it very spicy but not too hot for my taste which I admit borders on "Inferno".  The chiles while very hot do not interfere at all with the wonderful flavors from the rest of the spices and the Yak has a definite taste to it.  I really enjoyed eating it twice today ( took home the leftovers and had them later).
We topped of the meal with a "traditional" dessert.  I have to find out about this one but it was very good.  It was battered and fried pineapple covered with melted brown sugar and then dropped into a bath of ice water to cool and freeze the sugar.  Sounds a little different and it was but it, like everything else was very good and it left us wondering how many pineapples make it to Tibet to become a traditional dessert.

Overall it was a wonderful experience and we will absolutely return for some more Momos and Butter Tea or at least I'll get the Butter Tea.

If you are in the area and want to try Shangri-la Bistro they are located at

1280 Johnsons Ferry Rd.  in Sandy Springs (across from Merchants Walk Shopping Center.  Look for the Shell Station) and 3545 Canton Rd in Marietta.  I would give you a link to website but it isn't working yet.