Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Asian for New Year's Day dinner!

Warning: Not for the unadventurous.

Restaurant: Asuka/NoodleTown

Location:  318 S. College Mall Rd. Bloomington, IN.  Next door to Panera Bread.

What I had: Ginger Chicken, Egg Roll, Gyoza, Fish Ball Soup, the Vegas roll (sushi) and the Ebiten Maki (also sushi)

What I liked: Considering this is the 3rd or 4th time we've been here, I pretty much liked everything.

First of all, the egg rolls here are probably within the top 3 egg rolls I've ever eaten. Never overcooked, a near perfect filling to wrapper ratio, and excellent overall taste will have ma coming back for years to come.

The fish ball soup..the broth is light and flavorful. The fish balls themselves are okay.

For the price the sushi rolls are decent.  Nothing to rave over, but definitely hit the spot.

The ginger chicken:  This is why I have a warning about not being for the unadventurous.

Their signage says they are a Japanese Steakhouse/Chinese noodle soup place, but they are most definitely about the closest thing to a truly authentic Chinese restaurant I've ever been to.

Sure, there are the Americanized staples on the menu like General Tso's chicken, and Sweet and Sour Pork, but if you ask for it, you can get the the English version of the menu they give to the Asian folks that eat here.

This particular dish is not the typical breaded/deep fried chicken nugget tossed in some sweet thickened sauce.  This was bone-in dark meat chicken chopped into small pieces that you had to take your time gnawing the meat off of the bone fragments.  The ginger sauce had a mild sweetness and the undeniable heat that come only from fresh ginger.  As a matter of fact, our waiter, who is a native of Beijing, asked me twice if I was sure I wanted that dish as it was more of a traditional dish he'd have at home than usually seen in American Chinese restaurants. I am absolutely glad I said, "Of Course!"

What I didn't like:  Their decor is a little dated and it does look rather dingy with their color scheme.

Another thing I don't much care for is their overwhelming number of dishes available.  Not only do they do a full array of Chinese foods, they also do umpteen different kinds of noodles and soups as well as sushi and hibachi.  It is like they're trying too hard to provide a robust Asian food experience.

What the kids liked: My daughter loved everything we shared, and even left the bit of avocado in the roll she had (she hates avocados). My son especially loves their miso soup and crab stick roll.

Budget:  This place is very budget friendly if you pay attention to what you are ordering.  If you were going to do a more family style setup (order a couple main dishes to share with some rice) and stick to one or two appetizers, you'll spend about as much as you do at a "fast-casual" type place, but it can get pretty spendy too depending on the dish.

I can't wait to go back here with some friends/family so we can try their "Hot Pot"  (I know. I know. You paid HOW much to cook your OWN dinner?)

Sushi for Christmas dinner? Yes please!

Sorry I've been so long between posts.. Holidays and all.

Restaurant: Sapporo Sushi and Sake Bar

Location:  1706 Bardstown Rd. Louisville, KY

What I had:  several sushi rolls.. The Crunch N Munch,  one that was called the "Golden Cadillac" or something like that.. and one that was set on fire!  Squid and Vegetable Tempura, Gyozas, and Korean Bulgogi Tacos.

What I liked:  The Tempura: It was deep fried perfection  and the calamari not too chewy.

The gyozas: Not the best I'd ever had, but worthwhile. The dipping sauce was amazing!

The Korean Bulgogi Taco: If you don't try anything else on the menu you need to try these! Savory strips of flavorful marinated beef on a warm flour tortilla with some cool Asian vegetables/lettuce with a drizzle of spicy mayo. We had this as an appetizer. We ordered this again for dessert. I'm pretty sure they added more spice to the spicy mayo on the second batch.

The sushi rolls were all on par with other sushi places we've been to.  The flaming one was neat, but the dish broke and they had to get us another one.

What I didn't like:  Not much there to dislike, the wait staff was friendly, unobtrusive, and went out of their way in preventing us from contamination from the broken dish on the flaming sushi roll.

What the kids liked: They both loved the tempura. My daughter loved all the rolls we tried, and My son had two whole orders of their Crab Nigiri all to himself.

Budget:  This is a special occasion kind of place that has potential to become a regular feature in out meals out.  Most of the items on the menu were  reasonably priced with a few very pricey exceptions.  I didn't look at their Hibachi menu to see if it compared with others in the area.

Overall, the experience was worth the dollars spent even if we did go overboard on what we ordered (I had a pricey adult beverage which didn't help the budget either, but it was Christmas night).