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Cleveland's Asian restaurants


torakris
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Edsel,

those pictures are incredible! Another restaurant has been added to the list of places I need to go next summer. I want that duck! Thai food plus VTR and Lolita's? I am so jealous.

Steven,

Sun Luck Garden, you were in my neighborhood....

My parents really love that place but I can't remember the last time I have been there. From the outside is just looks like your average Chinese restaurant stuck in the middle of a little strip mall and I have never been tempted to venture in. Also being less than 5 minutes from my house I guess I am always looking for something a bit further out to try. Next summer....

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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just looks like your average Chinese restaurant stuck in the middle of a little strip mall

A lot of the best Asian restaurants in North America look like that. Especially when you get into the single establishment, operator owned places run by first-generation immigrants you find that exterior (and even interior) aesthetics often just aren't a huge consideration. I've heard variants of this story several times: "We bought an abandoned Kentucky Fried Chicken at a government auction. After paying the bribes to get our uncle, the chef, out of a prison camp back home we only had eleven dollars to renovate the place so we painted it yellow, bought two woks and started serving food on the KFC three-section cardboard trays we found in the storage room. Now we're full every night anyway so why renovate when we can use the money to send our kids to Cornell?"

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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eG member NancyH and others have commented about how difficult it can be to convince the staff of some restaurants that you're interested in the "real" food, not the dumbed-down version. It helps if you speak at least a few words of the language.

Sometimes there's an entirely separate menu, which may or may not have English translations, that features more authentic fare than the standard menu. Also, in dim sum places there may be carts with stuff like chicken feet or jellyfish that might be considered too exotic for the more timid diner.

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Laura Taxel gave Sun Luck Garden a very favorable review in her Cleveland Ethnic Eats guide.

"Much of what she knows, Chiu learned by studying with master chefs in China, apprenticeships arranged by her mother's brother, who is a renowned chef and teacher there."  Taxel's review put Sun Luck Garden on my "short list" of places to try, but the Heights isn't close to where I live or work. Sounds like I need to go out of my way to check it out....

Hi Edsel. I just joined EGullet! I have eaten in and done takeout from Sun Luck Garden a few times and have really enjoyed it. I like their Yu Shan Shrimp and Scallops, and their Sizzling Rice soup is amazing - and its getting to be good soup weather. The desserts are not to be missed - probably the best desserts in a Chinese restaurant in the city. I'd be happy to meet you there for dinner, if you want. Its about 3 miles from my house, and yes, it is difficult to get to from any freeway.

Beth

Edited by BethG (log)
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Ty Fun -

I joined Edsel at Ty Fun this week. Edsel, those pictures are great! The space is very comfortable and classy, and the dishes were presented beautifully. Also, rare for Tremont, is there is a parking lot next to the building (which needs to be re-paved), which is convenient.

I had the seafood hot plate in Edsel's pictures. I thought it was tasty, but a little too much anise taste to my liking. Also, in both the Tom Yum Goon soup, and the Hot Plate dish, I thought they skimped a little on the seafood for the price. The soup had 2 or 3 shrimp, and my Hot Plate had maybe 3 shrimp, 4 squid, 2 scallops and 4 mussels. The other dishes I tasted were very enjoyable, I think the whole fish was probably the best on our table.

Our party agreed that it is a different style and experience than Siam Cafe, and Ty Fun doesn't really lend itself to family style dining. I enjoyed it, and I am looking forward to going back and trying different appetizers and the other seafood entrees. That mango cheesecake was heavenly.

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I've only eaten at Sun Luck Garden once (while Bob was recovering from knee surgery) and I've been wanting to go back, this time with my healed hubby. I had a wonderful "girls night out" dinner with some friends, and Bob enjoyed the leftovers. There was no stuggle getting authentic and "East meets West" type foods.

Shall we PM/Email to see who wants to go and when? You really need a tableful of people so multiple dishes can be shared.

And Edsel - those Ty Phun pix are awesome - I WANT that whole snapper with curry - was is as good as it looked?

"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" 

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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I WANT that whole snapper with curry - was is as good as it looked?

The snapper was very tasty indeed. The texture of the fish was a bit dry. I'm not sure if it was overcooked or if that's the way it's supposed to be. The sauce was terrific - nice balance of coconut and curry.

The fish section of Ty Fun's menu has four different sauce preparations, any of which can be ordered with the whole red snapper or with grilled salmon fillet. The picture of the snapper makes me chuckle - I keep seeing a cartoon shark ready to take a bite. Cue the "Jaws" theme. :raz:

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Shall we PM/Email to see who wants to go and when?  You really need a tableful of people so multiple dishes can be shared.

Absolutely! I think that sounds like a great idea, Nancy.

Make sure you post photos!!

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Cool thread! I began my appreciation of Asian foods when I lived in Cleveland, but that was a long time ago (1993), so I've had an opportunity to try many more Asian cuisines since I moved to Atlanta. But I did want to find out if some of the restaurants I liked back then were still around, and if they're any good by today's standards.

I used to eat at Bo Loong on St. Claire fairly often, because I worked in that area, and I remember having some very good dim sum early in the day, plus good roast duck in the evening and a few good seafood dishes. Do they do any of the more "authentic" Chinese dishes now, and can you order them without a translator? I remember I also ate at a couple of other Chinese places on St. Claire (Chin's? I think I remember that place being sort of a filthy hole, but I also remember eating there, so it must not have been that bad :raz: ), so if anyone could update me on that particular section of town, I'd love to hear about what's new and different, or what's been torn down.

And do people still refer to Bo Loong as "Boo Long's?" I always hated that.

I also noticed a reference to Pho Hoa upthread. As you can see by the link, it is a chain, but not one that I'd shun, particularly if one is looking for a healthy alternative, since they're really predictable and user-friendly. I do prefer to eat where my Vietnamese friends like the food, though, and that usually means it will have a little more fat to it. I did eat Vietnamese in Cleveland when I lived there, but I didn't know much about the food then, and it was a long time ago, so I don't remember the names of any of the places I tried.

I lived in Tremont waaaaay back then. Are there any Tremontsters on eGullet? :laugh:

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I also noticed a reference to Pho Hoa upthread. As you can see by the link, it is a chain, but not one that I'd shun, particularly if one is looking for a healthy alternative, since they're really predictable and user-friendly. I do prefer to eat where my Vietnamese friends like the food, though, and that usually means it will have a little more fat to it. I did eat Vietnamese in Cleveland when I lived there, but I didn't know much about the food then, and it was a long time ago, so I don't remember the names of any of the places I tried.

Our Pho Hoa recently changed its name (to what, I don't remember), I suspect because the chain you mentioned didn't want them using the name. The place here is pretty small, cafeteria-like, and does not have a huge menu. The Pho, however, is quite nice.

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I also noticed a reference to Pho Hoa upthread. As you can see by the link, it is a chain, but not one that I'd shun, particularly if one is looking for a healthy alternative, since they're really predictable and user-friendly. I do prefer to eat where my Vietnamese friends like the food, though, and that usually means it will have a little more fat to it. I did eat Vietnamese in Cleveland when I lived there, but I didn't know much about the food then, and it was a long time ago, so I don't remember the names of any of the places I tried.

Our Pho Hoa recently changed its name (to what, I don't remember), I suspect because the chain you mentioned didn't want them using the name. The place here is pretty small, cafeteria-like, and does not have a huge menu. The Pho, however, is quite nice.

The name was changed to Superior Pho - a cool name because it is located on Superior Avenue.

"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" 

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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  • 3 weeks later...

A group of us met at Sunluck Garden for dinner last night (don't worry, Edsel - we're planning to do it again after you return!). The owner, Annie, is from Hong Kong, and maintains a lot of authenticty in her dishes, while crafting them for Western palates. Unfortunately, the food came so fast and furious (and our group was so large) that I didn't get pictures of everything. Here is what I did get:

Appetizers

Potstickers - made from scratch and crammed with flavor - who'd have thought we could eat pork again so soon!

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Halibut "Firecrackers"

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The Not-So-Ubiquitous (in the Midwest) Crab Rangoon - full of real crab flavor (don't know if it was actually real crab).

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We all had soup, and among the group, sampled three varieties:

Vegetarian Sizzling Rice Soup

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Hot and Sour

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And - a house specialty - Butternut Squash Soup - looks deceptively like regular Won Ton Soup - but is vegetarian and gets its lovely color (as well as the dumpling filling) from squash - Yum!

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I stopped keeping up when the entrees hit. I did get some - this was my choice, the fish special of the day - Yellow Croaker with Turnips, Pears and other vegetables - it was wonderful!

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They were out of lobster for the Seafood of the day, but the Scallops were huge and delicious:

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The Walnut Chicken was outstanding.

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We also had Yu Shiang Pork that was spicy and delicious, an original interpretation of Ma Po Tofu (the tofu was fully mashed up - it worked extremely well), Liphen Noodles with Chicken and Mandarin Sauce (Liphen noodles are similar to Shanghai noodles, but a little thinner - the dish was inhaled), and three Specials - Mussels with Black Bean Sauce (I'm not a mussel eater, but I enjoyed the taste, if not the texture, of the one I ate) served with a side of sauteed sprouts, Sauteed Snap Peas with vegetables and chicken, and Pineapple with Sunluck's signature "dark tofu" which is made from soy, but is texturally similar to Seitan.

Annie makes all of the desserts, including the sorbets and ice creams, in house. We sampled one of just about everything, including a chocolate pecan pie to die for, but there was no way I could shoot it all!

Sorbet and Ice Cream

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Chocolate Double Custard Pie

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Carrot Cake

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Peach Cake with Caramel Sauce

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As we were getting ready to leave, Annie thanked us for our patronage, and gave us two house made cookies along with the requisite Fortune Cookies; a rosemary cookie and a scotchie - both were delicious and who'd have thought fresh rosemary would work in a cookie?

It was a fully satisfiying evening of great food and company.

Edited by NancyH (log)

"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" 

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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I loved that peach cake, and it felt like such a fitting dessert at the end of a Chinese meal. I mean, all her desserts (the ones I tried, at least) are great, but something like carrot cake feels like you're shifting gears, whereas the flavors and textures of the peach cake just seem to flow from the meal.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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  • 3 months later...

I joined a large group at Siam Café last night for a post-New Year feast. We had a set menu with selections from the recent Chinese New Year menu. Everything was served family-style on a lazy Susan in the center of the table.

We started out with stuffed crab claws.

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Shrimp paste is formed around the claw meat, it's rolled in rice noodle fragments and deep-fried. Served with a sweet-salty dipping sauce. This was fantastic!

Next up was Crisp-fried tofu with assorted seafood.

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This also had a dipping sauce and was very tasty. I think that there was some sort of seafood stuffing inside the blocks of tofu, but I don't recall what it was. The tofu had a delicate crisp coating.

We had a Tom Yum soup with shrimp and mushrooms.

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I agree with the earlier post by Alex that the broth is a bit bland, but I had a mostly favorable impression of the soup. This is from the regular menu, not CNY.

Also from the regular menu is mixed seafood and vegetable in a taro basket.

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Lobster with green onion

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Messy to eat, but delicious.

Fried whole flounder

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Some folks were nervous about eating this because of the tiny bones. It's really quite easy to separate the flesh from the bones by pulling it apart. The fish was perfectly done - moist inside and crisp outside. Served with a sauce on the side. I don't know if this fish from one of the tanks along one wall of the restaurant. It certainly tasted fresh enough...

Not pictured: Beef Tenderloin with black pepper sauce and Pork in Chef's special sauce. Both were very flavorful. The sauce for the pork was on the sweet side for my taste.

Fried Spring Chicken.

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The chicken was carved into small portions bone-in. There was a small dish of dipping "salt" (msg and spices) that intensified the flavor.

Pea-pod leaves with garlic and bamboo heart

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Some people found the soft texture of the bamboo heart off-putting. I liked it - a nice contrast to the crisp and crunchy textures of other ingredients. The pale grey of the bamboo also looks odd next to the brilliant green of the pea-pod leaves.

Not pictured: Stir-fried e-fu noodles and Rainbow fried rice.

The dishes had been coming fast-and-furious, so at this point I was having trouble keeping up. Our waiter tried to get the chef to slow down, but the lazy Susan was overflowing. :biggrin: The noodles have a pleasing "tooth" to them and the sauce was quite savory. The fried rice got mixed reactions, I think because the bits of pork were salty. I thought it was good.

For dessert, we had Tapioca and taro soup.

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I like tapioca, but don't especially care for the taro. It's a bit too much like potato. The "broth" was intensely sweet.

Altogether a very enjoyable meal with a fun group of friends. Siam Café's menu is extensive. See the photos that stuart_s posted to his Flickr album for an idea of just how many dishes they do there. Very impressive.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Back to Siam Café for another post-New-Year dinner. This time it was an even larger group (three tables) from Slow Food Northern Ohio.

Some of the dishes were similar to the previous New Year's feast, but there were quite a few that were new this time. Most notable were the braised abalone and mushrooms, the Pla Red Pik (a perch and vegetable dish), and a fried custard served in a savory presentation.

There was one dish that was different from any that I've had in an Asian restaurant. The Braised Ham Hock with Baby Bok Choy was carved table-side. It clearly had been cooked for hours - the texture was moist, tender and gelatinous. Really scrumptious.

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We were with the Slow Food group that ate at Siam Cafe last night. Bob and I got to Chinatown way early, and so we stopped for bubble tea at Koko Bakery.

I had heard of this place, but never made it there before. It is about a year old, and the proprietor is from Taiwan and serving up marvelous Shanghai-style baked goods, together with a modest lunch menu and a large variety of Asian drinks, including teas, coffees, fruit smoothies, and two varieties of shaved ice (Taiwanese and Korean).

Unfortunately, I left my camera in the car - but Bob enjoyed his Mango bubble tea, and my Taro Pudding Bubble Tea was out of this world! We took some buns and a sticky rice roll to go, but we haven't tried them yet.

3710 Payne Ave, open 7 days 9-7.

"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" 

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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Well, with both Edsel and Stuart photographing, I stopped after a few shots. I did get a nice shot of the tureen of Tom Yum soup, which I think was a little spicier last night than on the previous visit:

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This was another appetizer - possibly the best scallion pancake I've ever had, with a perfectly prepared strip of roast pork in the center:

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This dinner was amazing - just when we thought we could eat no more - another platter came out!

Edsel - post more pictures!

"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" 

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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  • 4 months later...

I'm bumping this thread to ask about good places to get sushi in Cleveland, or between Cleveland and Oberlin. We are bringing my daughter out to college next week, and I know she will love it, but she foresees a lamentable lack of sushi in her life. If we could take her out for sushi while we're there, it would be a lovely treat. Is Pacific East still good? Does anyone know the name of the place in Strongsville? Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

(edited to refine the question)

Edited by Catherine Iino (log)
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