It's easy to find fast and cheap meals. Just drive down any major road and fast food and fast casual options abound. But quick, inexpensive meals made with natural ingredients? Not so simple. Now the owner of R. Rice Sushi in Sandy Springs has opened a new fast casual spot that achieves that holy trifecta - Chow Bing, located in the Pencil Factory Lofts in the Old Fourth Ward.
Much like BurgerFi reviewed here recently, Chow Bing offers all-natural, humanely raised meats. Rare for a fast casual spot, they also endeavor to source vegetables locally as much as possible and serve their food in eco-friendly packaging. Just because you're in a hurry and on a budget, doesn't mean you have to sacrifice ingredients, right? I love that we're seeing more and more of this. The public is increasingly concerned with where our ingredients come from, so it's great to see a locally owned fast casual spot we can feel good about.
Aside from its relatively unique dedication to quality ingredients, Chow Bing also offers a intriguing twist on Chinese food. Don't go looking for egg rolls and sweet and sour chicken. The main event at Chow Bings is a Chinese variation on a burrito, called a Bing Roll. Strange sounding, but it works. For $7-8, you get meat, veggies and noodles or rice packed in a wrap. We chose the Roasted Five Spice (beef, mushrooms, onions, bell pepper and shredded cheese) with noodles and Roast Pork (pork marinated in Chinese red wine sauce, lettuce, pickled carrots, cilantro, jalapeno, hoisin bbq sauce) with noodles.
I thought I'd prefer the beef, but the pork was the real winner. Despite it's Five Spice moniker, the beef tasted more like a typical beef wrap with no discernible Chinese flavor. That said, it was filling and tasted pretty good, just not especially Chinese, so if you don't care about that, you'll be plenty happy with it. The pork was more packed with flavor and the hoisin sauce added a clear Asian note of sweetness. I'd love to see the jalapeno amped up even more so it's got more kick, but overall I was quite happy with this dish. As you can see from the pic, there's nothing pretty about them, but they do the trick for a dinner you can enjoy and not feel guilty about. These can also be served minus the wrap over rice or noodles.
Another unique feature of Chow Bing are boozy bubble teas. When we went the bartender was still sorting out what liquors went well with what teas, so by now they have likely made some changes and solidified the drinks menu. I love a good bubble tea. There's just something about those weird little chewy balls! Adding booze to them is a stroke of genius...why has no one else thought of that?
While the Bing rolls give the impression of being reasonably healthy, appetizers like lobster philly wontons and General's chicken wings certainly did not. They were very sweet and although fusiony, the flavors reminded more overtly of what you usually get at a more traditional Americanized Chinese spot. We enjoyed the wings more than the wontons, but when I return, I'll likely skip to the main event. I'm not usually one for appetizers at a fast casual spot anyway.
We heard from the owner that if this spot does well, you can expect to see other Chow Bings open in the future. The night we went, they were doing a fairly brisk business. The nearby Grant Park families hadn't yet invaded en masse, but I think this will be a great spot for families as the food and setting are pretty darn kid friendly. For adults, I'd love to see ways to kick the spices up a notch, but even without that, it was a satisfying meal and offers good value for money.
Want to try for yourself? One lucky reader will win a $25 gift certificate to Chow Bing. You have until next Friday, June 7 to comment here telling me what dish you'd order. Find the full menu here. The winner will be drawn at random. Good luck!
349 Decatur st
Atlanta , Georgia 30312
*Full disclosure: Although my food was comped, I always endeavor to offer my unbiased opinion of the experience!