Conceived by Atlanta restaurateur Mike Blum, Chow Baby was billed as “Atlanta’s first create-your-own stir-fry restaurant.”
Blum built a franchise from the concept, then sold it. But now he’s back where he started, at the original Chow Baby location on Howell Mill Road, with a new stir-fry restaurant, One Rooster Mongolian Bar, and some new wrinkles, including a complete makeover of the space from the ground up.
With Blum, the One Rooster team includes original Chow Baby chef Alvin Reed, co-owner Nicholas Brown, and beverage director Caleb Brown.
One recent afternoon, they were all gathered at the restaurant to offer a taste of the food and drink, which focuses on “fresh and natural ingredients with a Polynesian flair,” and includes a full bar with beer, wine and Asian-Pacific cocktails and frozen drinks.
“In 2005, I opened up Chow Baby here in this building,” Blum said. “It was the first restaurant that I owned, and I couldn’t have expected it to go better than it did. We had lines out the door every day, and we were averaging around 7,000 people a week, and close to $3 million the first year.
“So everybody wanted to franchise it and buy it. I ended up selling the concept a year after I opened it, and I stayed on as CEO for about three years. Then I met chef Guy Wong and we decided to partner up and do some restaurants together. So we have Miso Izakaya, Le Fat and Ton Ton now.”
Beyond grilled-to-order bowls, with a choice of spice, meat, sauce, veggies and noodles or rice, the One Rooster menu includes appetizers, such as pot stickers, edamame, egg rolls, and crispy char siu pork buns. You can also upgrade your bowl with seafood or turn it into tacos, lettuce wraps, soup or quinoa salad.
“Some of the things that are different about this restaurant than Chow Baby is that we’re using sunflower instead of soybean oil for the cooking, which gives the bowls a fresher flavor,” Blum said. All the sauces are new and house-made, too.
“All the meats are shaved, including chicken and rib-eye. We’ve enhanced the seafood options, with grouper, scallops or shrimp. And we’re trying to use as much organic produce as possible.”
From his perspective as beverage director, Brown said he wanted to make drinks that would go with the food and be refreshing.
“There’s a lot of Polynesian flavors that go into the sauces and the dishes from the kitchen, so I’m trying to match that,” Brown said. “Also it’s a big volume of food in the bowls, so we wanted to have big drinks that were easy to enjoy.
“The frozen Toasty Pineapple is one of my favorites, right now. It has roasted pineapple, tequila and Amargo Chuncho bitters with cinnamon and nutmeg. It just has a really fresh, fruity and spicy flavor.”
Summing up the years between Chow Baby and One Rooster, Blum said it had been a surprising journey.
“I was the first one to do a Mongolian create-your-own place in Atlanta,” he said. “Here I am back nine years later, trying to get it back to its glory days, and do it even better.”
1016 Howell Mill Road N.W., Atlanta. 404-330-8068, facebook.com/oneroostermongolian.
More images from a First Look at One Rooster Mongolian Bar
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