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Asian Food Gone Wrong

July 14, 2009

Why, oh why do I eat at P.F. Chang’s?  Is it the imperial horses, beckoning to me in all their synthetic splendor?  Is is the promise of Three Sauces, any way you like em’! ? Is it the horrendous mood lighting?  If I could unlock this mystery, I would because next time I mention this disappointing wretch of a restaurant, I want someome to handcuff me to the nearest tree until my self-destructive sodium urges have abated. 

When it comes to Asian cuisine, we may not be the Silk Road of menu options, but I think we can do a little better than P.F. %*##ing Chang’s.  As if the sopping, droll food presentation wasn’t depressing enough, these hypertension inducers don’t come cheap!  If the only place you’ve eaten kung pao chicken is a late-night takeout joint, the menu items of asparagus! (roughly 5 stalks for $5) and spinach! (drowned in oil) might excite you, but please, drive on, because we sure don’t need the extra grease on our horizontal tires. 

Instead, consider the following:

Oriental Pavilion.  They have a secret authentic menu that you have to ask for, featuring steamed spinach with egg, crispy sweet pork, and orange duck.  These options taste way better than P.F. Chang’s attempts at authentic Chinese “street fare,” and they are almost half the price.

The. Noodle. Shop.  Lately I’ve been disappointed in their quality.  They recently lost their chef of 8 years who moved back to China, and then experienced a bout of quality control issues, mostly due to the spanish-speaking teenagers who were botching the usually wonderful spinach pancake, among other dishes.  But the other night I noticed their owner is behind the kitchen counter now, and he’s serving it up right.

Doc Chey’s Noodle House.  When it comes to Asheville’s Pan-Asian options, Doc Chey’s remains in the lead.  I still think they could offer more legitimate versions of authentic classics like Bun Cha, vermicelli noodles with pork and egg rolls , or Bibimbap, the Korean rice, beef, and veggie bowl.   They offer a watered down version of Bun Cha, but I am constantly begging them to just make the real thing.   Still, richer flavors and cheaper prices give Doc Chey’s the upper hand over P.F. Chang’s any day. 

Heiwa Shokudo.  I really love this place.  I love how their seaweed salad tastes hearty, crisp, and fresh, without more than a hint of brine.  I love that the miso in their miso soup outshines the slivers of seaweed within, and therefore lands a prize for most successful bowl of miso in town.  I love their noodle soups, shockingly hot and bringing to mind the great noodle film Tampopo, and the arduous and romantic quest for the ultimate noodle soup.  I love their myriad sauce options, that I could end up with light and briny, sweet and thick, hot and sweet, or that elusive savory flavor.  Mostly, though, I credit Heiwa for introducing me to the wonders of brown rice.  And I have never tasted a brown rice I liked better than Heiwa’s nutty, firm, life-giving rice.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 14, 2009 6:15 pm

    It is almost requisite that any restaurant that locates in South Asheville has to suck or at least fail to live up to expectations. Granted there are a few exceptions like Frank’s NY Deli and the Little Bee Thai shop you raved about. Twelve Bones is here, but they started in West Asheville. Brixx Pizza is okay when go you after ten (at which point South Asheville dining options are limited to Papa John’s, Dominoes, Pizza Hut, or Waffle House) to get their bogo special.

  2. thedj permalink
    July 15, 2009 10:26 am

    I feel like I’m always welcoming you back GG.
    Great post as usual. I also recently discovered the secret menu at Oriental Pavilion and have to say it’s my favorite Chinese food joint in town right now. Glad to hear the owner of the Noodle Shop is behind the line. I’ve always enjoyed their pad thai. And who can beat Heiwa’s spicy garlic tofu?

  3. July 22, 2009 10:07 pm

    Oriental Pavilion is really bad. For the price, you should consider Grand Imperial in BSC. Much better food. I had stale, microwaved ‘siew yoke’ at Oriental. For RM60 a plate.

  4. July 23, 2009 1:27 pm

    Hey SY,

    I don’t know what “siew yoke” is, but did you order off the special more authentic menu, or just the regular one. Because I can’t vouch for their regular run-of-the-mill chinese food, but their special, authentic menu is really good.

    Also, what is “BSC”? I’d like to try Grand Imperial sometime.

  5. Susie permalink
    July 27, 2009 11:29 pm

    Icy Spicy? Anyone tried it? I passed by…on Brevard Rd just south of Long Shoals. It says “American and Indian” and I had sudden hopes of chaat and ice cream.

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