Double Dragon, the latest concept from second-generation Chinese-American restaurateurs Michael Lo and chef George Yu , debuted in Oakhurst in late May, and it’s been bustling ever since.
Lo and Yu also own Taiyo Ramen in downtown Decatur, Mama Tiger at Emory’s Dobbs University Center and Suzy Siu’s Baos at Krog Street Market.
Each offers a different contemporary take on Asian cooking. But Double Dragon is perhaps the duo’s most personal and playful yet, gleefully delving into the greatest hits of American Chinese menus, while elevating the likes of General Tso’s Chicken, Moo Shu Pork and Pepper Steak with sustainable meats and local and seasonal produce.
Beyond that, Yu is offering a selection of more adventurous and authentic Chinese dishes such as Lobster Cantonese and Salt & Pepper Squid. And there’s a separate menu with gluten-free and vegetarian options.
Located in the former Saba space at 350 Mead Road, the restaurant takes its name from the popular ’80s arcade game that spawned both an animated series and a live-action film adaptation.
Lo and Yu gutted the dining room and installed rows of tall booths that recall the look and feel of the classic American Chinese restaurants of their youth. There’s also a bar area, and a beverage program that features craft beer and wine, along with Tiki drinks and signature cocktails.
Right now, Double Dragon is open for dinner nightly. But lunch and takeout service are coming soon. And the new Oakhurst Dairy Bar, which will be located in a small area near the front door, is scheduled to open this week, offering premium soft-serve ice cream.
Last week, Lo and Yu were at Double Dragon, where they talked about why they decided to open an American Chinese restaurant.
“We both grew up in Americanized Chinese restaurants, so this was the kind of concept we wanted to do for a long time,” Lo said. “We think people want Americanized Chinese here, but no one has tried to do it in a more modern, different, better way.”
“For me, it’s that I grew up eating this food, I crave this food, and I cook this food,” Yu said. “But I didn’t want to do it with bad ingredients. I wanted fresh ingredients and something I could feed my kids and feel happy about it.
“For me, this food has never died. But it’s making a comeback and being reinvented in better ways. You can tell that when you look at a food magazine and there’s a recipe for General Tso’s Chicken, and there’s the documentary ‘The Search for General Tso.’ ”
Speaking of General Tso’s, it’s already a big seller on the Double Dragon menu. But Yu’s take uses Springer Mountain and Ashley Farms dark meat chicken coated in brown sugar and wild flower honey instead of cornstarch, and beet juice instead of red food coloring.
Other examples of quality hacks Yu employs include using Brasstown Beef for beef dishes, subbing local Pine Street Market bacon for Chinese ham in the hot and sour soup, and subbing turmeric for yellow food coloring in the egg drop soup.
“It’s just a little something that would make the dish a little better,” Yu said. “It’s just one or two things most of the time. But using a better chicken or better beef or pork makes a big difference. And you can really taste the difference.”
350 Mead Road, Decatur. 404-832-0016, doubledragonoakhurst.com.
More images from a First Look at Double Dragon in Oakhurst