Asia Restaurant a delicious discovery
One of the enjoyable results of eating, or dining out, is discovery. If you cook at home it can be a page in a cookbook or a recipe from a friend. When headed out it can be an accidental result of an adventuresome spirit.
That happened last month when we went to the Asia Restaurant, a quaint little spot on the South Hill. The suggestion came from an email, three times removed from us.
The ambience was pleasant, enhanced by half-price wine night – making us wish we were not alone. OK, we weren’t alone, but we’re not exactly preferred dates, just storytelling and elbow-bending companions. The Asia seemed perfect for date night. Nothing fancy, but just right for those conversations that seem to elude us in our busy lives. Nice lighting, interesting décor, soft music. You could bring a child, but it was such an affordable night, a babysitter isn’t a deal breaker.
Besides the wonderful Wednesday-only discovery of some $9 bottles of wine, which we knew to be a good restaurant deal – we discovered an Asian menu that could have been Greek to us.
We made it clear to our waitress, the manager, we were willing to try anything and wanted to veer away from things we know, such as teriyaki. We ended up with outstanding spring rolls for appetizers and pad Thai (chicken) and tom thit nuong cha gio (shrimp, pork, egg roll) for entrees. Everything was served with a variety of tasty dipping sauces.
What do you want to know first? That there was so much food no dessert followed? It was so good that our wives are upset they missed this outing after our reviews to them? Or, the fact that all that came for $10 a plate?
Yes, we shared, as if we were with our preferred dates, and it was a double thumbs up. We agreed on a return trip to try more dishes, especially the pho, which had fans raving on the restaurant’s Facebook page. Our overall willingness to explore menus was reinforced.
The professional in our company pointed out the chintzy silverware and cheap napkins. Those things aren’t necessarily unusual, especially for a startup – the Asian is only about 15 months old. But, the pro noticed, and it might not make a good impression on the South Hill.
Giving the owner the benefit of the doubt, he surmised that maybe because the place is so authentically Asian in cuisine, the owner may not even know the silverware is of a lower quality, because traditionally the accompanying chopsticks would be the utensil of choice.
However, the décor, cleanliness, friendliness and food are so good, the “burger joint” napkins and cheap silverware stand out like French fries with your fried rice.
That said, a cheap spoon isn’t going to stop us from returning – especially on a Wednesday.
Former longtime S-R writer Dave Trimmer and his friend, former restaurateur Dan Coyle, forged a common bond over dinner and drink. They know it takes more than great food to make dining out worth the money. They share recent finds and longtime favorites in this column, which runs monthly in the Food section. Reach them at email@example.com.