Eatz by Debby Critchley
Taste of Asia, 362 S. Pickett St., is a lovely Asian bistro nestled in a shopping center with better known neighbors. The family owned and run restaurant features a variety of Asian delights from sushi to Thai to Chinese. The restaurant is not fancy but it is comfortable. Judy Lu makes sure everyone being served is treated to the same warmth and hospitality you would receive in her home. Booths are comfortable. Tables are set far enough apart to give you your privacy but not prevent you from seeing and admiring the dishes being served at the tables around you.
There is so much to like here. The menu is mostly Japanese with a wide variety of sushi, Bento boxes, teriyaki, and noodles. The fish is very fresh. There are the many traditional rolls and sashimi. The fish is pristine. Some of the specialty rolls you might want to try include the Deep Sea Roll with salmon, tuna, kani (crab stick) inside which is deep fried and topped with spicy tuna and scallions. The Virginia roll is made with soft shell crab on the inside and topped with spicy salmon and scallions with a crunchy topping. The tempura roll is a feast for the eyes. The crunchy tempura shrimp is rolled in sushi rice and each bite is delightful.
The teriyaki runs from tofu to vegetable to chicken and to steak. Each dish comes with Miso soup, salad, and a choice of white, brown, or fried rice. You can make it a dinner box which adds gyozo and a California roll. Taste of Asia serves a variety of noodles ranging from ramen, yaki soba, and yaki udon. Choose from tonkotsu or shio (pork bone broth), shoyu (vegetable soy), or spicy miso ramen with the traditional accompaniments. The yaki noodles include vegetables with a choice of add-ins such as beef shrimp, or chicken. The katsu is done well here. The chicken katsu is lightly breaded and fried to a light golden brown. The chicken inside is moist and flavorful.
The Chinese menu has some terrific offerings. The dumplings are made with a light hand – airy dough and well-seasoned filling. Ask if there is duck available. The kitchen provides a half or a whole bronzed duck with crackly skin and moist meat. Absolutely one of my favorites. Another smashing dish is the General Tso’s chicken made with freshly deep-fried boneless chicken and sautéed in the chef’s special spicy sauce. So many restaurants precook the chicken but XXXX Lu, Judy’s husband and chef fries the chicken fresh for each order. He does the same for another of my favorites, Orange chicken. The salt and pepper chicken is another must order. The chicken is fresh and crispy – spicy and tasty from its well-balanced salt and pepper flavoring.
The Thai menu includes pad thai made with thin rice noodle stir-fried with bean sprout, basil leaves, scallions, crushed peanuts, and egg. The green curry offers a choice of chicken, pork, beef, or shrimp with string bean, eggplant, and basil leaves in a spicy green-coconut-milk curry.
Taste of Asia is the place to be when you want a good meal in comfortable surroundings. Judy and her family will make you feel like you are old friends from the moment you walk in the door. Have a martini or a glass wine, site back and relax, and enjoy your meal.