After a trip down to Stone Mountain last Saturday for the Yellow Daisy Festival, we stopped on the way home (well, sort of on the way) for some Sichuan cuisine at the new home of China Master in Duluth. The sign in English still says Lin's but in Chinese the name "Chuan Ba Wang" signifies that this is indeed the China Master restaurant. We had never been to the old China Master further down Peachtree Parkway but we had always heard good things about it. Just when we wanted to finally go there many months ago, they shut their doors and closed shop. Last month the chef opened back up at the Lin's location off State Bridge and Medlock Bridge roads. What makes this location really interesting is the close proximity to Sichuan House, which is located right across State Bridge Road. Two Sichuan restaurants so close - which one to choose? This was definitely a test of sorts.
First up was "wu geng chang wang" which was also one of our first dishes at Sichuan House.
If you are not a big fan of intestines this dish might change your mind. The intestines were prepared perfectly and so was every other component of this wonderful dish. Of course, you would expect perfection from the chef who invented it a few decades ago in Taiwan. Chef Liu (not to be confused with Chef Liu's restaurant) came up with this dish a long time ago in Taiwan. He took an existing beef dish and replaced the beef with intestines and pork blood. The combination of all the flavors is wonderful.
Next up was their hot spicy beef, also commonly called hot boiled beef:
There are two items on the menu called "hot spicy beef" in English but they are not much different. One uses chili powder, and one uses actual chili peppers. We opted for the latter. The addition of cilantro is a typical Taiwanese touch. The broth is much more flavorful than Sichuan House, and without the starch that SH uses in their version.
Our third dish was braised tofu:
This dish is fairly simple but yet so savory. The gravy is rich with flavor and the silky tofu melts as you bite through the denser, fried outer layer. Wish they had more of a "house tofu" type dish like Cafe 101 but maybe it's called something else. There's quite a few tofu dishes and, just like the beef, there are two with the same name.
Our final dish was deep-fried chicken wraps:
This is a crunchy treat that would go great with some cold beer. The sauce it is served with is a very old-school Taiwanese style miso-based cold sauce. It's a great combo and something we have rarely seen outside of Taiwan.
Overall the food was great, so good you didn't notice the so-so decor and somewhat dingy ceiling. SH has the decor advantage but so far I am making Lin's my preferred choice for Sichuan food in this area (like we have a lot of choices!). Price-wise it's about the same, maybe a buck or two cheaper per dish.