Chopstix serves up tasty, overrated cuisine

By Kristin Hanson

Contributing Writer

Buckhead, known for its fine dining, is the home of the gourmet Chinese piano bar Chopstix. It has been honored with the title of “Best Chinese Restaurant” by Atlanta Magazine every year since 1988 and has received other prestigious awards such as the “Distinguished Restaurants of North America” award, as stated on their website.

Chopstix was founded in 1984 by restaurant owners Phillip Chan and Alvin Yu, who are originally from Hong Kong. They combined influences from their native country with those of New York and California to create the unique and diverse menu.

Chopstix provides a very intimate dining experience with live piano music, dim lighting and a black, white and red color scheme. The singing and piano are not overbearing and add well to the classy atmosphere, but seem a bit strange when coupled with traditional Chinese art and decorative designs.

The execution of Chopstix’s service is fairly innovative and very efficient. Instead of one waiter or waitress assigned to a certain number of tables, all the staff stands around in between the tables and when they see something that needs to be refilled or taken away, the staff member closest to that table takes care of it. When you need something, there is no waiting around for your waiter or waitress to return because there is always a member of the staff standing somewhere near you.

They take their quality of service very seriously. So seriously, in fact, that one of the people I was dining with would take a drink of their tea and immediately someone would be there to whisk away the glass, fill it up, and return it to him.

One usually would not think there is such a thing as too helpful, but this would be one of those instances, as taking a sip in-between bites almost became an impossibility.

In addition to their regular courses offered, at the bottom of their menu is a note explaining that if your favorite dish is not on the menu, then they can make it for you on request. However, based on my experience, do not ask for water chestnuts.

I went to Chopstix with some friends from out of town because they wanted to experience some of the best dining in Atlanta. The last person in the group to order asked for the sweet orange beef, but also requested some water chestnuts on his beef. The manager looked stunned and more than a little offended. We were all very confused as to why this had offended the man, especially when the menu makes it seem like special requests are no big deal.

We voted on the best meal at our table and the winner was the hot Szechwan chicken. It is not for the faint of heart however, because the hot ginger garlic sauce on the beef is quite spicy.

Overall, the food was very good, but perhaps a little overrated. It seems to be that a lot of what customers are paying for is the excellent service and the fine dining experience–not necessarily the food.

However, my group was fairly conservative with our meal choices and stuck with the more familiar kinds of meats and sauces. Maybe someone with more expansive taste would enjoy the richer items on the menu.

If you are searching for a romantic or classy fine-dining establishment with a Chinese inspired menu, then Chopstix is worth checking out.

However, if you are looking for a stereotypical Chinese restaurant with sesame chicken and Mongolian beef, then you might want to spend your hard-earned money elsewhere.