This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Walmart. The opinions and text are all mine.
Some of my favorite flavor combinations come from Asian restaurants, and Atlanta has a whole host of spectacular places to choose from just North of the city in Duluth. One afternoon, we decided to pay a trip to Chef Rui Liu’s Sichuan Chinese restaurant, Masterpiece, for a little mid-week dumpling and crispy pork lunch. Masterpiece has made its way onto the “Best of Buford Highway” list for quite some time, and I was especially excited to try it since Chef Rui Lui was recognized by the James Beard Foundation as a Finalist in their “Best Chefs” category. Atlanta has been fortunate enough to take home the “W” for a few James Beard nominations, and from the restaurants, I’ve tried ITP (inside the perimeter) I knew that if Chef Rui Liu’s restaurant has been recognized OTP, then this must be the real deal.
Making the journey out to Buford highway is a little cumbersome when you live in the heart of Atlanta, but the fruit of your labor is well worth it when you finally step inside Masterpiece. They had just opened at 11:30 p.m. and already a few of the faithful had lingered in before us. The smell of spicy Sichuan permeated the air and while we went up with a specific menu in mind, our restraint was tempted by the ubiquitous fragrance of authentic homecooked Chinese. It was by no coincidence that of all days to have Chinese we chose this day. Chef Rui Lui was recently hand-selected by the James Beard Foundation to partner with a local Vidalia onion farm, Bland Farms, and Walmart to create a menu filled with flavor to support the local community.
Hopefully, by now you have had a Vidalia onion at least once—the sweetness of these Georgia nightshades is unmatched, and you’d be hard pressed to find a sturdier onion for your southern cooking. We sat back as our stomachs did the ordering for us and all but groaned at the waitress, “ORDER THE LOT! GET THE PORK! DUMPLINGS ARE ALWAYS A YES!” No sooner from when we ordered did the sizzling plates come out from the kitchen.
First, the dumplings arrived in a sauce that epitomizes the word ‘umami’—slightly sweet and savory with a finishing touch of tang. When you bite into the dumpling a burst of herbaceous flavor shines to the top from the pork filling it was stuffed with.
We were extremely excited about the towering plate of sizzling veggies highlighting the Vidalia onion from Bland Farms, we were warned not to touch because it was hot, but we dove in any way for the first bite and it was fantastic. The onions got their final sear on the cast iron it was served on and they added the nicest crunch and sweetness to the cauliflower and broccoli on the plate.
As shown by the James Beard Foundation’s accolades, Chef Rui Liu knows how to construct a truly authentic Sichuan Chinese food experience—even for those who may not gravitate towards spicy food. I urge you to try something with just even two chili peppers next to its name on the menu. You may be surprised to know how much you like the heat!
If you want to try one of Chef Rui Lui’s Bland Farm Onion packed dishes, make sure you head up to Masterpiece before September 22nd or you can always try your hand at creating your own Sichuan dish at home by visiting your local Walmart who sources fresh, locally grown produce like our very own Bland Farms.