In the mood for something new and Asian, LC and I visited Makan in Decatur. It was quite late on a blustery winter night, so we found ourselves alone in the dining room except for co-owner and manager Michael Lo.
Lo, a Chinese American, married a Korean woman. Her friend, also Korean, married another Chinese American. When the four met, the idea for Makan was born. Both families share a background in the restaurant industry, providing the inspiration for the cuisine at Makan which melds traditional Chinese flavors with those of Korea.
For example, we started our meal with house pickles and kimchi, a Korean staple. And I couldn’t resist the wontons in chili oil stuffed with pork and shrimp, a spicy dish common in China.
I first tried makgeolli, Korean fermented rice beer, at Sobban and was thrilled to discover it on the beverage list at Makan. Its milky and smooth with a hint of almond flavor, similar to unfiltered sake. At $12 for a teapot full, it’s enough for two, served in traditional shallow bowls.
LC and I often eat tapas style, although we’ve found it can lead to over-ordering. Lo stopped by our table as we debated our next dishes. Despite my grumbling, LC wanted to try the crispy egg rolls and pork belly bun. Stuffed with chicken and mushrooms, the egg rolls turned out to be a stellar version of a somewhat ubiquitous Chinese snack. The pork belly bun featured slow roasted local pork, pickled red onions, and pecan sugar for a complex mouthful of flavors and textures.
With Lo’s help, we narrowed down our remaining selections to the triple pork mapo tofu, and scallops in xo sauce. And he insisted we try the spicy Korean ramyun ramen. Xo sauce was developed in Hong Kong and is made with dried seafood, a great pairing with the four plump seared scallops decorated with scallions.
Triple pork mapo tofu, made of chopped chorizo, and local pork and tofu reminded me of nam-sod, a Thai dish I often order. The Chinese version is served with steamed rice rather than cabbage leaves. Unfortunately, we found the dish to be a bit salty.
My favorite dish, and certainly the spiciest of the evening, was the ramen. Making the broth for ramen is an arduous process. At Makan, it is simmered overnight with pork and chicken, then finished with miso, Sun Noodles, roasted pork belly and a poached egg. The restaurant also offers their signature ramen which is less spicy.
Lo brought over a couple of complimentary desserts to finish our dinner, a tasty spice cake with vanilla ice cream and a special housemade black sesame ice cream.
In addition to the a la carte menu, Makan offers four family-style meals for parties of four, a splendid idea for a double date as long as everyone agrees. If you join me and my date, we’ll be having the whole duck. Although our first meal here was good, I hope more creative and spicy dishes find their way onto the menu in the future. Meanwhile, I’ll be back for makgeolli and spicy ramen.
130 Clairemont Avenue, suite 100 404-996-6504