Exploring the World Through Food at these Six Atlanta-Area Restaurants
By Shawne Taylor
I love learning about other cultures through literature and food. The stories people tell and the food that they eat can tell you a lot about their traditions, daily life, and even their geographic location. Fortunately, Atlanta is home to just about every type of world cuisine imaginable, so it’s easy to travel the globe – gastronomically speaking, anyway – without having to catch a plane.
Here we’ve rounded up six of our favorite, family-friendly restaurants that lend themselves to a unit study on cultural geography. Book suggestions are also included.
Japan: Shoya Izakaya – Doraville; I can’t say enough good things about this traditional Japanese pub. Shoya’s menu is filled with small plates such as salmon belly, kushiyaki, and onigiri, alongside ramen, sushi, karaages, and so much more. It’s all served a la carte, and is perfect for sharing. There are several different dining rooms here, each bustling with activity and all creating the feeling that you’ve been transported to Japan. For an even more authentic experience, parties of four or more can call ahead and reserve a small private room, where diners will remove their shoes and sit on low cushions to dine.
• Recommended reading: A Treasury of Japanese Folktales: English/Japanese Edition
Germany: Der Biergarten – Downtown Atlanta; this authentic German “beer garden” really delivers on the food, fun, and atmosphere. The owner is a native of Germany and has done an amazing job of creating a place where Atlanta families can get a true taste of traditional German culture. In addition to the amazing menu, Der Biergarten also boasts festive, family style seating, Bavarian décor, and a German manufactured model railroad that circles the restaurant.
• Recommended reading: An Illustrated Treasury of Grimm’s Fairy Tales
China: Canton House – Buford Highway; Canton House has been one of Buford Highway’s go-to Chinese restaurants for years. They’re open for lunch and dinner during the week, serving more-familiar dishes alongside traditional hot pots, Chinese barbecue, and a variety of seafood options. But dim sum (which starts at 10am on Saturday and Sunday) is where they really shine. Here you’ll find authentic and delicious Chinese small plates like steamed buns, chicken feet, and congee, all served from carts that the wait staff pushes through the dining room.
• Recommended reading: Treasury of Chinese Folk Tales: Beloved Myths and Legends from the Middle Kingdom
Ethiopia: Desta Ethiopian Kitchen – this popular, casual Ethiopian restaurant at the intersection of Briarcliff and Clairmont Rd. is open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and offers a variety of traditional meat and vegetarian options. They even have a drive thru if you want to get your meal to go, but we recommend dining in (at least the first time) for the full, friendly Desta experience.
• Recommended reading: The Perfect Orange: A Tale from Ethiopia
France: La Petite Maison – Sandy Springs: this cozy restaurant serves traditional French cuisine for lunch and dinner, while French music plays softly in the background. Some options can be a little pricey, so check the menu and plan out your budget before you go (but save room for dessert, if possible, because they have a wonderful selection to choose from).
• Recommended reading: Not for Parents Paris: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know
Korea: Thank You Chicken – Duluth; this modern, yet cozy restaurant, located in a strip mall in Duluth, specializes in delicious Korean Fried Chicken. The portions are large enough to share and the prices can’t be beat. The platters, served on the weekends are enough to serve 2-3 people and come with chicken, fried potatoes, corn, sweet potatoes, kimchi fried rice (prepared at your table), chicken gizzards, ginger salads, pickled daikon, and a small bowl of rice soup (to start). Chicken can be ordered plain fried, spicy, (and it’s very spicy!) or covered in yang nyum sauce (sweet and spicy). You can even order a half and half platter, which may make it easier to share. The food and service are outstanding, and the atmosphere is enhanced by the K-Pop videos playing on the TV and waitstaff in traditional Korean school or sports uniforms.
• Recommended reading: Long Long Time Ago: Korean Folk Tales
(Note: A version of this post originally ran on the Atlanta Homeschool blog.)