By Brian Benefield
For more articles on Cobb County food follow this link to all of our reference columns by Brian Benefield.
House of Lu has been serving authentic family recipes for nearly three decades; let that sink in for a moment. This gives them unequivocal recognition for being one of the longest running restaurants on Marietta Square. They have stood the test of time for good reason. Cindy Lu and her parents were born in Saigon, Vietnam, but are 100 percent Chinese, so the menu is a fusion of both cultures. Cindy’s mother, known to regulars as Mama Lu, opened the place in 1995 with a passion for serving food from her lineage. She considered selling the company in 2008, so Cindy moved back from the Northeast to preserve her family’s legacy.
In 2014, they completed an absolutely stunning renovation, meticulously thought out by local interior designer Cassandra Buckalew, and construction was completed in a record time of just one month. As you enter, you are immediately struck by the large, colorful murals on either side of the venue. Each panoramic painting represents Vietnamese and Chinese culture by depicting a pretty lady eating noodles on one wall and a dragon lady on the other. The eye-catching circular bar in the center of the room illustrates the yin-yang concept that everything in life closes. Once seated, the dining room is alluring and has a very upscale, elegant vibe.
Placing your food order can prove difficult but in the best way as there are many options created from scratch. I’d suggest starting your meal with the succulent, hand-made steamed pork dumplings that are tender, or try the crunchy veggie egg rolls. As soon as you take a bite, you can tell the pride of the kitchen staff who make these by hand every day. Delicious at the highest level, Vietnamese pho soup features a beef bone broth that has been simmered for many hours and served with rice noodles and your choice of protein, some of which are a rare round eye steak, chicken or shrimp. This fragrant blend is deeply calming and feels like a big, warm hug. If you’re craving traditional Chinese cuisine then order the ever popular Mongolian beef or if you want some spice in your life then get the Hunan chicken for starters and you’ll thank me later. The friendly waiters are attentive and knowledgeable about the menu and can point you in the right direction if you’re undecided.
Don’t sleep on their cocktail schedule, and if you’re lucky, you may have Johnny Tam, Cindy’s husband, as your mixologist. Classics like a cosmopolitan and a martini are served, but also mango and lemon drop martinis for an exotic touch. Try something different, like a Not Hanoi Me Iced tea with Bacardi Dragon Berry Rum or a Ming Dynasty Made with Absolut Vodka, Blue Curacao, Soho Lychee Liqueur and Cream De Violette. Johnny is a character who always has a funny joke or amusing story to share with the bar patrons while making your drink.
Food Network Executive Chef Alton Brown lives in Marietta and frequents the House of Lu for its quality cuisine. Be sure to find his likeness on a signed magazine cover hanging on the back wall of the hallway. Next to the main dining area is a large party room that you can reserve for any type of celebration you can imagine. You’ll be just around the corner on February 1st with Chinese New Year, which is all about doing away with the bad and the old and welcoming the new and the good things in life. I think we can all stand behind this idea!
You may see other House of Lu restaurants in town, but know that this restaurant is not affiliated with them and is the original and the only one with the Lu family’s recipes made with a special ingredient… one pinch of love.