Ah-Ma's Taiwanese Kitchen
Ah-Ma = Grandma
So excited to start my food series with you all. I LOVE FOOD. Ever since I moved to Atlanta I have discovered and consumed so many delicious cuisines that it would be a crime not to share my findings with everyone. I couldn't think of a better way to introduce this section than shining a light on one of my favorite restaurants in Atlanta, Ah-Ma's Taiwanese Kitchen. This gem is a small family owned restaurant located in Midtown with one goal in mind: to bring traditional flavors and dishes to Atlanta. I had the pleasure of conducting an informal interview with one of the owners, Andy Chen, to learn more about Ah-Ma's and future plans for the family trio.
- What inspired you to open up this restaurant? How long has it been opened for?
We've been opened for a little over three years now. We were trying to figure out a concept for a few years before opening Ah-Ma's. After my brother and I read Fresh Off the Boat by Eddie Huang, that's when we developed our Taiwanese concept.
- Describe the type of food served at Ah-Ma's.
We based it off the night market and street food in Taiwan. That way we can do a lot of smaller plates and make it shareable. The night market is always changing so that left us open to more option.
- What is your favorite dish from Ah-Ma's and why?
Ooo... Pork Belly Bao or the Lu Rou Fan. Alex makes the bun from scratch so you get a certain texture and flavor from that where you can't find in a lot of places. The flavors from both of those dishes are really traditional and homey and are what we grew up eating.
- We don't have many Asian restaurants in Midtown because the hubs are usually in places such as Duluth and Buford Highway but you guys decided to go somewhere else. What's the hardest part about being a restaurant owner or what are some challenges you guys have faced?
Location didn't hold us back too much because one of our goals was to come in town and do something a little more authentic. We were pretty sure it would draw a crowd. Because we're such a small restaurant, the hardest problem is to balance everyone's schedule and make sure we're fully staffed at all times.
- What do you enjoy the most about having your own restaurant?
Because we're so small, it is also easier to fill so we kind of don't have many limitations as to what we can do. It's kind of led us to do things our way instead of bending to what everyone else wants us to do.
- What are your future plans for Ah-Ma's?
For this place, we want to maintain quality and reputation. I don't think we want to change too much as far as concept goes.
Pictured: Chili Oil Wontons
- Are you guys going to bring any new specials to your Ah-Ma's menu?
Not to this menu but we have other concepts that we want to do so we are thinking of doing a pop-up pretty soon.
- Can you give more details about this pop-up?
It would probably be once a week on the days we are closed. Maybe once or twice a month. But yes, we have saved a lot of the recipes that we have been working on for later because it doesn't really fit our concept here at Ah-Ma's, but yeah Alex has been working on some really cool stuff.
- What kind of food/concept will you be featuring at your pop-up?
We'll still use a lot of Asian ingredients and Asian cooking techniques, but we just don't want to be set by boundaries because when you say Asian food and you don't cook it traditionally or in a certain way, some people tend to get upset because it's not necessarily done the way they want it. So we're not trying to put a label on what the food is going to be with the hope that it leaves us open to options and let's us experiment. Hopefully people can come into it with an open mindset.
- That's exciting! So we'll be hearing something soon, right?
Maybe in a month. Yeah, we have something planned and just setting everything up before we push the word out there.
Pictured: Andy Chen
- If the world ended tomorrow, what would be your last meal and why?
Probably biscuit and pepper gravy because I grew up in Alabama and around southern food.
- What's the worst meal you've had?
It's hard to say but probably something I cooked for dinner.
- What's your favorite type of food?
That's also kind of hard to say. A little of everything. I just really love good food as long as there's a lot of heart and soul behind it.
Pictured: Beef Noodle Soup