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Asia reflects only a sliver of the titular continent's size and cultural variety. Instead it focuses on those countries many might think of when they hear the phrase "Asian cuisine": China, Japan, Vietnam and Thailand. Sushi is prepared well, though the fish itself is merely good, not outstanding. Entrées lean toward Chinese and Chinese-American dishes like General Tso's chicken; house specialties include Peking duck and an excellent Cornish hen dish. The Cornish hen is one of the few values on a relatively high-priced menu.
The friendly staff and large dining area provide a quick-fix for downtown 9-to-5ers looking for their midday meal. The lunch buffet offers a taste of the popular menu items at an affordable price. The regular menu includes a large variety of Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese choices, including spring rolls, kung pao chicken and curry vegetable tofu.
You might visit this charming South Grand spot for banh mi - it's in the name, after all - delicious sandwiches with thinly sliced meat, pickled vegetables and sometimes pté on a crusty baguette. Or you might decide to test the neon sign in the window that proclaims the best spring rolls in St. Louis. These, too, won't disappoint. Or you might just settle for a simple bowl of pho, redolent of cilantro and basil, or paper-thin char-grilled pork over rice sauced with nuoc cham that hits the perfect spot between sweet and spicy. Whatever you choose, husband-and-wife owners Thomas and Lynne Truong will make sure you leave their restaurant full and happy.
There's no longer banh mi at BBC Asian Cafe & Bar, even though it used to be one of the place's signature offerings (one of the Bs in BBC supposedly stood for it!). There is instead gyoka, maki, chicken teriyaki and some unexpected choices, such as the unagi crepe, which is filled with mozzarella, crab, unagi and unagi sauce. But these days, BBC is less about the food and more about the nightlife; there's a stylish little bar here and plenty of room to smoke hookah. And while there are plenty of places on South Grand offering just that, to the best of our knowledge, this is the only restaurant in the Central West End with hookah as an option -- making BBC the only place in town to puff away while watching the Euclid Avenue street parade.
The new venture from restaurateur Zoë Robinson and chef Ny Vongsaly, who have collaborated at I Fratellini and the late Zoë Pan-Asian Café, is the perfect restaurant for its location across the street from Washington University: an inexpensive but stylish noodle restaurant. Vongsaly draws upon the familiar flavors of Southeast Asia - lemon grass, curry, fish sauce - sometimes, as in the excellent beef pho with butternut squash and red curry, in unexpected combinations. The spare ribs and pork spring rolls are dynamite appetizers, and the lemongrass beef over chilled sesame noodles is a standout main course. Delivery available during dinner hours.
In a spot that was formerly a Long John Silver's, and a bakery, Crystal Bar & Restaurant serves Vietnamese and Chinese food along South Kingshighway. With a large patio in front and an ample dining room, Crystal offers an expansive menu of Asian dishes. While the Chinese menu consists mostly of familiar items such as cashew chicken and Mongolian beef, it is the Vietnamese menu that offers a wider array of cuisine. Appetizers include minced pork rolls called cha gio and other spring rolls with pork or shrimp, bi cuon and goi cuon. A small pho menu is also available. Crystal's Vietnamese entrées feature several different bun items, vermicelli with pork or shrimp or beef and other ingredients. Specialties include ca kho to, catfish cooked and seasoned in a clay pot, and tom hum xao gung, stir-fried lobster with onions and garlic. Crystal has a large parking lot that surrounds the building.
This small, brightly colored restaurant is a family affair, with owner Diane Dinh and her ex-husband Dinh Dang handling the kitchen duties, while several of their children staff the front of house. The menu features very good renditions of Vietnamese favorites including pho, banh mi and platters with pork chops, egg cakes and broken rice. Suon ram man -- spareribs steamed and then simmered in a clay pot with a complex sweet, salty and spicy beef stock-based sauce -- are a standout.
What can you get at this enormous all-you-can-eat buffet? Everything, it seems, but the ornamental fish. There are stations for dim sum, sushi, Mongolian barbecue and pho, as well as standard Chinese- and American-restaurant fare. The food may not compare to your favorite Chinese (or Japanese or Mongolian or Vietnamese) restaurant, but families, especially, will find something to satisfy everyone - and their budgets - here. But even the snobbiest foodies will be won over (or worn down) by the spirit of fun and culinary adventure: Where else can you try, say, jellyfish, and walk away from your unfinished plate without shame?
This cavernous restaurant in the Delmar Loop describes its cuisine as "pioneering Asian fusion." Fans of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai and Vietnamese cuisine will likely describe the dishes as defanged. Few dishes provide much flavor, let alone the vast array of vibrant flavors that any one of the aforementioned cuisines have to offer. Fortunately, Ginger Bistro is located only a short walk or drive from restaurants that serve the genuine article.
From the Hua family, which owns the Vietnamese soupery Pho Long a few doors west in U. City’s Jeffrey Plaza strip mall, comes Hooked, a casual, American-style seafood shack. Fried seafood abounds: shrimp, calamari, oysters. The shrimp po’ boy features crisp, plump morsels overflowing from a crusty baguette. A cluster of snow crab legs, simply steamed and served with drawn butter is worth the (relative) indulgence, pricewise. Pho Long fans should check the back page of the menu: The kitchen demos new dishes for that restaurant here.
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