Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Wednesday Open Thread: Best Asian in Town?

Here's one for you -- Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese. What's the best Asian restaurant in town?

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

i love saigon and sawasdee!!

Jim said...

Sawasdee.

Sarah said...

Thai Cafe in Broad Ripple. We have never, ever been disappointed there. I keep trying other Thai places in town, but none are as good. Sawasdee is #2.

Sizzling Wok (Vietnamese) on Michigan road is a sentimental favorite. Though it seriously lacks atmosohere, you can't go wrong with the Rice Noodle Combination.

Hannah said...

I am a big fan of Sawasdee for Thai and Sandra Rice and Noodles on the East Side for Pan-Asian. A little gem of a restaurant off Pendleton Pike (really!)

Anne said...

I've become a fan of Thai Spice on the southside - while it always smells faintly of cigarettes, their food is fantastic and i love the fried tofu appetizer.

WYA! said...

We love Sawasdee and Jasmine Thai. Also, Shanghai Lil's.

Anne said...

wya - have you been to dim sum at Shanghai Lil on Saturdays - I'm planning on going with some friends this saturday. Do you have any suggestions as to which dim sum to try?

Kirsten said...

Chinese: Sesame (dan-dan noodles=heaven)

Thai: tie between Sawasdee and Thai Taste, which has the most delicate mussaman curry I have ever tasted.

Vietnamese: tie between Saigon for the bun and King Wok for the rolls.

Biscuitcleaver said...

Shanghai Lil seemed more expensive for what it was.

I like the thai house for a cheap lunch. 86th and michigan - but is moving soon.

I've always heard good things about sawasdee.

Anonymous said...

I'm an inexperienced eater of Thai food, but I have enjoyed Thai Smile 2 (on Allisonville south of 116th) both times I've been there.

I can't eat Sawasdee's soup; it tastes like stomach acid to me. Ick. But have enjoyed their other food.

Love Shanghai Lil, but visit rarely due to price.

Viet Bistro in Castleton was pretty good the one time I went -- loved their fresh spring rolls.

Anonymous said...

Fast Wok over by Washington Square. (it used to be in Eastgate Mall - but moved to bigger quarters) Great prices and fantastic food up to and including Pad Tai. They even have a "heat" rating for those who don't handle spice well. Absolutely the best of the walk-in Chinese places!

Country Mouse City Mouse Indy said...

Shanghai Lil's has great lunch specials! Their hot & sour soup is incredible and their sushi is great too!

Donald said...

I'll second the vote for Thai Spice, although I've never noticed a cigarette smell (?!?!) and I eat there often despite the fact that it's a pretty good haul for us to get there. Same goes for Ichiban on the South side... blows away any other sushi joint in town.

Anonymous said...

PF Changs

WYA! said...

Anne- yes, we expressly go for the dim sum at Shanghai Lil's. We even kept our menu/check-off sheet so we would remember what we liked. We liked the BBQ pork bun, vegetarian dumplings, turnip cakes, stuffed eggplant, and lou bah pork rice with egg and seafood puff. Enjoy your visit there!

Anne said...

Donald - Maybe I'm just extra sensitive :) Good to know about Ichiban though - I'm always looking for new sushi places. Where is it?

Donald said...

Anne - Ichiban is on US 31 just south of Stop 11. It's across from Mike's Car Wash in the strip by Clark Appliance.

Gastroholic said...

I used to live in Woodruff Place and would go to Sizzling Wok 2 which was housed in the worst laundry in the world. Amazing Pork in clay pot. I still dream about the stuff, and still have nightmares about doing my laundry in that crappy place.

Brendan said...

I love Ichiban Noodles near 82nd and Bash. The sushi's not very good, but the noodles are great, and the calamari filet is one of the best appetizers in town.

Also seconding Sandra Rice & Noodles, Saigon, and Sawasdee. Viet Bistro had gone way downhill last time I visited. And sure, Shanghai Lil ain't cheap, but I'd pay just about anything for the Owner's Lamb Special (with housemade mu shu pancakes, no less) and the best hot & sour soup in Indianapolis.

Also - Mama's in spite of (or because of?) the dragon lady.

Anonymous said...

Everyone seems to be missing the two best and most authentic spots in town Shen Yang and great garden on the west side. Both have great dim sum.

Phil Lavoie said...

I was glad someone mentioned Sandra Rice & Noodles. My partner and I went here recently for lunch and we very pleasantly surprised. IT WAS DELICIOUS! It wasn't very busy, so hopefully everyone check's it out and helps keep it in business.

Bil Browning said...

I want to join in the Sandra Noodles love-fest. Hands down the best Vietnamese in town. The brother-sister team have the most complex flavors in their food and if you ask them nicely sometimes they have dessert in back that they'll share with you. (It's not on the menu!)

Ichiban Noodles is a favorite of mine up on the north side for Japanese - it's cheaper than Sakura, but the sushi isn't nearly as good.

Anonymous said...

Sawasdee for Thai (although Thai Smile 2 at 116th & Allisonville is a very close second)
Sansui in Carmel for Japanese
King Wok for Vietnamese

Elaine said...

I'm a big fan of Saigon Kitchen, Thai Cafe, Sandra Rice and Noodles and the Korean dishes at Naked TChopstix. I really like the food at Shanghai-Lil, but had a problem with the service the three times I went. Each time was a test of patience and hunger. All the more disheartening when the food is good! I'm willing to try again, but I'm wondering if we just got really unlucky or if anyone else has had problems with the service?

As for dim sum I really like it at Great Garden which is in my opinion the most authentic in town.

CorrND said...

I'll put another vote for Thai Cafe (though I should mention that I've never been to Sawasdee). It might be time for some red curry tonight.

Anonymous said...

Japanese- Sansui- best sushi in Indy and trad. dinners
Korean- Mama's House, yum!!
Take Out- Asian Spice on Emerson in Beech Grove
Thai- Still up in the air, this blog gives me some good suggestions!

Yes, I've also had bad service and slow/cold food at Shanghai Lil's, so bad- we won't go back. The food was not nearly on par with the $$.

alphabetbydesign.com said...

Thai Cafe and Naked Tchoptix!

Country Mouse City Mouse Indy said...

To comment on Shanghai Lil's service: I've had the same server all but 2 or 3 times and he was always very cold and aloof. The second time I was there (maybe 3 years ago) was a girls night and there were 12 of us and he acted like we'd ruined his evening by being sat in his section (not knowing that at the time 7 of us were servers or bartenders). The food makes it to me every time.

cyberdependent said...

I think it is a positive statement about the quality of ethnic food in Indianapolis that there are so many good places to choose from, and that determinations about the "best" in town tend to be made based on reputation and location, as people don't have to go very far from their specific neighborhoods to find great Asian food these days!

That said, I have much love for my near-west side haunts. Saigon on Lafayette Road for Vietnamese, and Great Garden and Sheng Yang up the road for Dim Sum. For Sheng Yang, any place that has autographed Steven Segal memorabilia on display is okay in my book, but I think I may actually prefer the food at Great Garden, something that came as quite a shock to me, honestly!

Ichiban noodles, is very good for their noodle dishes, and I love the little noodle-house ambiance! Better sushi elsewhere in town, too.

One place that I had completely written off in the past that I'm glad I gave a second look is Mikado. I had, on several occasions, found their food to be sub-par and absurdly priced. While still pricey, the sushi was MUCH improved the last two times I went. (once because I was too lazy to go driving anywhere for sushi, and the second because my first time back in over a year was so unexpectedly good!)

Finally, I gotta pour out a Mai Tai for the long departed Jong Mei on Meridian. That place just oozed cold war snazz long gone, with overly fancy drinks, red vinyl, and large aquariums. Sure, very Americanized menu, but its a bit of a distinct style that will never come back. Chop suey with overly-garnished drinks and copious cigarette smoke? Atomic, baby! Mourn ya till I join ya!

Erin said...

Best Thai: Sawasdee. Thai Taste and Jasmine Thai are good too. Never Thai Cafe.

Best Chinese: Sesame Chinese Restaurant (in plaza on SW corner of 86th and Ditch, formerly Cheng Du in a different location)

Best Japanese: Naked Tchopstix (Naked Tchop recently expanded and redecorated, added an upstairs karaoke bar) or Sakura (points of for the service)

My Yelp reviews
http://www.yelp.com/user_details_reviews_self?userid=w0vot8eLlo7_9R8ous-nGw&review_sort=useful

Erin said...

I looked up reviews for Sandra Rice & Noodles and Great Garden on Yelp and noticed there aren't any - I encourage you guys to write some reviews for these great local places!

This has been a very helpful post and I'd imagine we all agree it's a good thing to get the word out.

www.yelp.com

braingirl said...

I'll be honest, I don't put a lot of stock in any of those review sites -- and there are a bunch of them.

I find the most reliable and best populated is still Indy Ethnic Food, even with its clunky old school interface. And still the reviews vary wildly for most of the best places.

tractorbladderr said...

I'll second the Shen Yang near 38th and Georgetown. Yay for a place in the middle of town with good dim sum!

Anonymous said...

I really like Naked Tchopstix's food, but the last several times I've gone in, there have been more staff than customers -- yet the service is still slow! What's with the dozen black-clad employees standing around talking amongst themselves, while ignoring the eaters?!?

Suzanne said...

OK, I must start out to say that I am a major stickler on ethnic restaurants being owned by people of the ethnicity belonging to those restaurants. Perhaps having spent too much time in large cities ... but (to me) they never seem to really get it right, unless the owners are Thai, Japanese, Chinese, etc. (Sorry in advance for the rant -- it's something I find very frustrating in Indianapolis.)

That said. I will be the only person on this list that will say, I think Sawasdee is terrible. We once had a fabulous dish there -- some type of curry custard that was served as a beautiful dome -- and was taken off the menu because it "was too difficult to prepare." That custard was very inventive and delicious, but beyond that, they cook with soy sauce, not fish sauce, take all kinds of shortcuts (try getting anything made to order at lunch if you have, say, an allergy that needs attending to -- fugetaboutit).

This would lead me to say my favorite Thai is Thai Cafe. Food is ALWAYS consistent and of highest quality. They roast their own Thai chilies, harvest their own lemongrass and they are the best quality in town. Every meal I've had there is top-notch, and perhaps that is because she does have a relatively limited menu. I actually experience drug-addiction-like cravings for food from Thai Cafe. We also enjoy (though not quite as much) Jasmine Thai and Thai Taste.

Best, most authentic Japanese is Asaka in Castleton. I think they have the best sushi, though not as "tricked out" as other restaurants -- basic and good. Excellent rice rolls in seaweed. I've had a few good meals at Ocean World, but it's inconsistent and the service is terrible -- and I would say same of Sakura. At Asaka, they aim to please, are comfortably shy and sweet, and 100% Japanese. They will also make Japanese dishes that are not on the menu. For me, half the joy of eating Japanese food is enjoying Japanese staff, whether waiters or sushi chefs.

Chinese is a hard call for me. I've heard there are some excellent Chinese restaurants on the West side of town, where we almost never are. I hope to eat at some one day! As for our side of town (North), I have to stick with Shanghai Lil, mostly for the creative diversity of the menu -- but many of the things I like on the menu are from other Asian cuisines, not Chinese. As for strictly Chinese, I'll have to say King Chef in Fishers. Reminds me the most of NY Chinese restaurants, and we often order off-menu. Though some of the things I used to order off menu have now found themselves ONTO the menu, such as their wonderful Crystal Shrimp -- a special dish not to be missed -- and Shanghai Curry Noodles. The quality of their food has been consistent from the first day we ate there 10 years ago. They will also change up any dish to your taste -- more ginger, less garlic, more hot peppers, changes in vegetables. They are so accommodating.

Our fave Vietnamese restaurant closed a couple of years ago. And, again, I hear there are some good places in other parts of town we don't have too much reason to frequent. Of late, we've had some very good food at Sandra Rice & Noodles on Pendleton Pike. Really enjoy the brother-sister team that runs the place -- and they are always happy to share stories about Vietnam and the food. Viet Bistro used to be wonderful, but the original husband-wife team sold it, and it hasn't been the same since. We have occasionally asked them to cook us up anything, their choice, off menu, and those have sometimes been good. But anything from the menu doesn't really cut it.

There is also a wonderful eclectic Asian place in Noblesville: Asian Grill. I think the kitchen and staff are filled with a variety of people from broad origins -- Indian, Cambodian, Thai, Chinese. The only cuisine I don't think they get quite right is Japanese -- but, otherwise, the food is creative, tasty and consistent. I'm always afraid they are going to go out of business, because of lack of customers. But they keep hanging in there.