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Cleveland's Asian restaurants


torakris
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I did make another wonderful discovery yesterday, my brother suggested we stop by this tiny whole in the wall Thai place he found last year. It is called Bangkok and is on Warrensville in between Mayfield and Cedar (probably University Heights). You can dine in at one of the four tables or take out, you order from a small window that separates the kitchen from the eating area and then get your own water and seat yourself. The food comes in a styrofoam dish with a plastic fork but when you taste it you won't care.

Most of the dishes cost $5.95 and are served with rice, though you can upgrade to a large (which would feed 2) for only $8.25.

I ordered a string bean curry with tofu (you can choose your protein) and my brother had the Thai gra pao (ground chicken with Thai basil) and they were both excellent. I am still thinking about the green beans... They were cooked perfectly and the flavor was great, they were honestly some of the best green beans I have ever eaten. My brother also commented that he was always impressed by the freshness of the vegetables they serve.

We also enjoyed a wonderful Thai iced tea for $1.25 and they have a Thai coffee for the same price.

If you are in the neighborhood definitely check them out.

EDIT: Just checked their take out menu and the address is 1982 Warrensville and the city is South Euclid, the full name is Bangkok Thai Cuisine.

These folks have just moved to a new location, a genuine restaurant located at 5359 Mayfield Road - formerly Trivisonno's and Argento's.

The space has been completely cleaned up and renovated - a truly delightful place to dine for lunch or dinner. And for you vegetarians - their lunch menu has a nine item vegetarian section (I didn't realize until after I left that I had only grabbed the lunch menu, so I can't tell you about dinner).

I photographed our lunch and you can see the pictures at Nancy's Pix. We started with the Tom Yum Goong (Hot & Sour Soup with Shrimp) and Duck Spring Rolls. The taste I took of my companion's soup was tart and spicy with a healthy dash of fish sauce; he enjoyed it. The duck rolls were superb, both on their own and dipped into an accompanying dipping sauce that was sweet and hot at the same time. The serving of 4 rolls was most generous. Also generous was the complimentary refill of my Thai Iced Tea (which turned out to be, as Martha might say, a VERY good thing).

Tom ordered Green Noodles Curry and I ordered Rad Nah - both "Thai Hot". Our servers, who we learned are the daughters of the Chef, were delighted that we wanted it that way. We were not disappointed - the dishes sang with heat and flavor.

We didn't ask how Tom's noodles were made green - but they tasted homemade and wheat based. And he at least had pineapple and coconut milk in his dish to counteract some of the spice (along with chicken, tomato, onion, yellow squash, and bell peppers).

My wide rice noodles rested in and soaked up an incredibly spicy brown gravy ("Thai Style Gravy", according to the menu). This was topped with chicken, broccoli, carrots and mushrooms.

I had heard great things about the take-out location but never made it there. I can report that the new incarnation is wonderful.

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

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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Siam Cafe is amazing. Cleveland is lucky to have them. Judging from comparisons to what is claimed to be among the best Asian food on the West Coast I think that Siam Cafe deserves the same level of praise.

So far, the only other restaurant where I bother to eat Chinese or Vietnamese food is Asia Foods. It's mainly a grocery store. They have a prepared food case. It includes five spice beef, pig ear, beef tendon, roast duck, roast pork and a couple other things. On Saturdays the have banh mi. They also have a bakery display case with a small collection of buns and cakes. I've seen a savory rice cake, coconut buns, a couple types of Chinese donuts, pineapple bun, lemon cake... Finally, they have a room in the back with several tables but I've been alone each of the four times that I've eaten there.

This might be cause for concern but the food has been excellent each time I've been there. First, I had the goi cuon and Hong Kong style chicken. I'm not entirely sure what Hong Style entails but there was no sauce. It was served over a small portion of ground pork and a big heap of rice. It was perfect - as good as any chicken I've ever had. On my second visit I had the bun bo hue and the bi cuon. Bi cuon is a roll similar to the goi cuon with pork skin substituted for the shrimp. It was served with fish sauce rather than the hoisin that the goi cuon comes with. It was fantastic. On my third visit I had the Vietnamese style pork chop. It was phenomenal. I also had a good red bean paste sesame ball and an excellent donut. It wasn't the long type. It was more like a small elephant ear with sesame seeds. On my forth visit I bought a banh mi from the prepared foods area. They bake their own buns and I think they use rice flour. I did learn the hard way that the sandwiches don't include peppers unless you specifically request them.

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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.

Hi Catherine,

I hope this isn't too late, or too lacking in information. :blink: I live in Oberlin and I love sushi. Having said that, I have an embarrassing confession to make - I almost never eat at sushi restaurants when I'm at home. For sushi places on the East side (pretty far from Oberlin) I would defer to Stuart and Beth for recommendations. I'm pretty sure that Beth has spoken highly of Pacific East in the recent past. As for anything within a close drive to Oberlin, all I can think of is Parallax in Tremont, Sushi Rock (kind of trendy and LOUD as the name implies), and Ginza on Carnegie.

Ginza supplies the sushi for the happy hour on Tuesdays at Velvet Tango Room which is where I've had it. VTR is worth the trip in and of itself, and if you daughter is too young to imbibe (I'm guessing that's likely), they can make lovely non-alocholic versions of several of their fine drinks. By Tuesday you may be ready to get out of Obie :smile: .

Parallax is one of Cleveland's best restaurants. It's located in Tremont, a charming old neighborhood with a disproportionate number of excellent places to eat. It's easy to get to from Oberlin. Just head towards Cleveland on I480, take I71 North and get off at the W 14th exit. Parallax is one of the few places I can vouch for personally. Their seafood is absolutely pristine, and they have a dedicated sushi chef. A bit of a novel approach, combining a "modern" high-end restaurant with a more traditional sushi bar. The great thing is that you can mix both styles of food to your liking and get truly superlative food. Not cheap, but worth the trip and expense.

There are a few places in North Olmsted, one of which came highly recommended in Laura Taxel's Ethnic Eats guide. I've shopped at the grocery next door (run by the sushi chef's wife) but have never been to the restaurant. You should definitely pick up a copy of the "Cleveland Ethnic Eats" guide. Stop in at Mindfair Books, located in the Ben Franklin store right on the square. I'm pretty sure that they keep Taxel's book in stock. Disclosure: Owner and book buyer are both friends of mine.

Come to think of it, buying Taxel's book is probably the best advise I can give you. There's a ton of wonderful food around the Cleveland area, and the Ethic Eats guide is a terrific refernce. I keep a copy in the glove compartment of my car. :smile:

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Pacific East is the best sushi in the area. It's been a while since I ate sushi anywhere else but before I started eating at Pacific East I explored far and wide and food was generally disappointed. There were a couple decent restaurants and there may be a couple that I never got around to trying but I feel confident in saying that Pacific East is the best. If you're going to Pacific East for Japanese (they also have Malaysian) then try the gindara (not sushi, but a good appetizer).

I was planning to comment on Pacific East even before this recent mention but my intention was to recommend the Malaysian food. I think the Malaysian side of the menu stands on its own as one of the best Asian restaurants in the city. I've only had Malaysian food at one restaurant besides Pacific East but it was named second best cheap Asian restaurant in all of New York city by the New York Post. The roti canai at Pacific East is better. That and almost every thing I've had has been excellent. The curry chicken noodle soup is fantastic. The chicken actually tastes like something and the curry is smooth and rich. Tofu and seafood in curry sauce, beef ribs in broth, nasi lemak... All great.

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Just to follow up on NancyH's post regarding Bangkok Thai on Mayfield Road, I ended up there for dinner on Thursday evening. I was trying to avoid the 271 traffic and thought that since Nancy and I had such a wonderful lunch, I would check out their dinner menu.

Good news and bad news. The dinner menu is almost identical in both content and price to their lunch menu. Good news is that you can pretty much get anything you want any time of the day and it'll cost you about the same. Bad news if you are expecting more from the dinner menu.

I ordered the Tom Ka Gai -- spicy chicken coconut soup -- as my starter. Delicious. Not quite as kick you in the throat as the Tom Yum Goong, but delicious all the same. The coconut goes a long way toward taming the spiciness of the soup.

For my main entree, I decided to dive in and go for the Phad Thai. I ordered the standard version with the chicken and shrimp. Now, I've eaten my fair share of Phad Thai in various restaurants in various cities and I have to say, overall, this was a very decent version. What sort of got me thinking though was that the very best versions of this dish usually come with a lime wedge or two so that I can adjust the sweet/sour component of the dish. This version did not. And it didn't strike me until I was well into the dish that the underlying sweetness of Phad Thai was a bit too strong and got in my way of truly enjoying this version to it's max. A little bit of lime would've really helped here.

Again, not saying it was bad at all. In fact, at this point, it's probably the best version I've had to date in either Cleveland or Akron. I'm lucky that Bangkok is pretty darn close to my current workplace. I know I'll be going back again to try more and more of their very good menu.

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I grabbed a quick take-out lunch from Bangkok Thai today - Mee Yok Mu - choice of meat (I had chicken) with garlic (and I mean LOTS of garlic), soy sauce, orange juice, red peppers, snow peas, green peas, baby corn and green onions in light chili sauce served over green noodles and bean sprouts.

It was a very interesting and tasty dish:

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I did not notice much orange flavor, and there were no green peas, but that was fine with me! I did notice fish sauce - I suppose they don't list that as an ingredient because it might turn off the locals. Anyway, the peppers, snow peas and green onions were fresh and tasty (I passed on the canned baby corn).

The green noodles continue to intrigue me - I didn't notice any spinach flavor, but they are definitely a little different than regular wheat noodles. And they were perfectly cooked, I might add - just a bit al dente so they had bite. Another intriguing thing in this dish was the placement of the bean sprouts under the other ingredients, where they got soft as they soaked up the sauce. Usually in Thai dishes I have had, the sprouts are on top or on the side, where they stay crispy. I really like the sponge effect here!

I ordered the dish medium spicy, and it packed a very pleasant punch. I liked the balance of flavors in the sauce, which was light yet spicy. Overall, a great lunch choice! I look forward to continuing my exploration of the menu at this wonderful new Asian restaurant!

Edited by NancyH (log)

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

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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After being away from Cleveland for most of the summer, I passed by Wong's Chinese restaurant on Payne for the first time since the summer began. It looks like it's closed now. :sad: It was a really low key place and I enjoyed going there for dim sum and noodles. Does anyone know what happened?

Allan

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After being away from Cleveland for most of the summer, I passed by Wong's Chinese restaurant on Payne for the first time since the summer began.  It looks like it's closed now. :sad:  It was a really low key place and I enjoyed going there for dim sum and noodles.  Does anyone know what happened?

Allan

They relocated to, I believe, Willoughby after they lost their lease in Chinatown.

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

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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Nancy,

Thank you for the report on the new Bangkok place! I went to the old place days before they closed with my husband, kids and nephew. It was nice to take so many people because it meant we were able to try so many things. My favorite on the menu is the green bean curry (I always get it with tofu), I order this every single time. I also discovered another wonderful dish, I can't remember the name now but it was your choice of meat (we choose beef) in a garlic sauce served over lettuce leaves. Everyone also enjoyed the duck egg rolls.

I found the mandarin chicken a little on the bland side but my bland food loving nephew really enjoyed it.

I also had the pad thai (vegetarian version) and really loved it but I think I preferred the version I ate at Mint Cafe a little more.

Speaking of Mint Cafe, this is also a wonderful place. It seems to be really popular now we had to wait an hour for a table on a Weds night!

I have given up on eating sushi in Cleveland, not that it is bad, it just isn't worth the price. Of course if I didn't live in Japan 11 months of the year I might change my mind.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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  • 1 month later...

oooh oooh, tell me about all the good asian places too! in undergrad i always drove three hours to houston to get my chinatown fix---the "newer" chinatown, the primarily Taiwanese (or at least it used to be) chinatown---and since moving up here i've been at a bit of a loss.....partly because i don't speak any cantonese, so i don't know how to ask for what i want.

we live on coventry (well, hampshire, really), with about a 1/2 block walk to hunan and pacific east and mint cafe. so most of the time we go to those three places, but....on saturdays we go to C&Y for dim sum, on wednesday nights to sushi rock in beachwood (1/2 off sushi). i should add that i don't really know anything about thai and japanese food.

when my parents came to visit they chatted up the owner of hunan coventry, and for a while she would offer me random things to take home (bittermelon, for example)...but the last few times i've been she hasn't been around, and i find the menu generally too americanized to eat there all the time.

there was this bubble tea place in houston (tapioca house, i think it was) that had this amazing taiwanese crispy fried pork chop, complete with a "lu dan" and cabbage...mmmm....anywho, i've been hunting for a similar meal here in cleveland, and haven't been able to find one.

one more thing....curry pastries....curried beef in a flaky pastry crust, with black sesame seeds...does anyone know where to find these? i once had an unsuccessful conversation with the delivery guy from amazing wok, where all he could say was, "you tell us how to make it, we make it for you!" any help would be GREATLY appreciated...

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There's an interesting article about Cleveland's Chinatown in the current issue of the Free Times. They note the new cafe (Sweethearts) and discuss the expansion of Asia Plaza and the construction of the new Asia Town Center. Asia Town Center is being developed by the Duong family who own Asia Foods and Siam Cafe - my two favorite Chinese/Vietnamese restaurants in the city. The center will include several restaurants which will offer authentic Asian cuisine. I think this will be a quantum leap forward in the Asian food scene in the Cleveland area.

There aren't very many details. Oddly, the only restaurant mentioned specifically is Crust and Crumbs. Crust drew rave reviews before it outgrew its previous space and closed. The owners have experience in some impressive kitchens. I never managed to get there myself and I was afraid that their temporary closing had become permanent after too long without any updates. I'm very glad that they've found a new home. From the bites column in the same issue:

Shooting for a late December opening, Robinson says the new location will allow the business to "grow up a little bit and get away from being just a bakery and cafe." The 55-seat restaurant will serve lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. Diners can expect an American menu with subtle Asian influences. "The menu has been stepped up tremendously and will allow us to show our skills."
In addition to Crust and Crumbs, the complex will feature three or four new restaurants. "We're in talks with several restaurants right now," says Alex Duong. "I envision a number of authentic Asian restaurants. Not just four or five Chinese restaurants." Duong expects to open before year's end.
Edited by stuart_s (log)
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  • 1 month later...
Just to follow up on NancyH's post regarding Bangkok Thai on Mayfield Road, I ended up there for dinner on Thursday evening. I was trying to avoid the 271 traffic and thought that since Nancy and I had such a wonderful lunch, I would check out their dinner menu.

Good news and bad news. The dinner menu is almost identical in both content and price to their lunch menu. Good news is that you can pretty much get anything you want any time of the day and it'll cost you about the same. Bad news if you are expecting more from the dinner menu.

                        *                                    *                                        *

For my main entree, I decided to dive in and go for the Phad Thai. I ordered the standard version with the chicken and shrimp. Now, I've eaten my fair share of Phad Thai in various restaurants in various cities and I have to say, overall, this was a very decent version. What sort of got me thinking though was that the very best versions of this dish usually come with a lime wedge or two so that I can adjust the sweet/sour component of the dish. This version did not.  And it didn't strike me until I was well into the dish that the underlying sweetness of Phad Thai was a bit too strong and got in my way of truly enjoying this version to it's max. A little bit of lime would've really helped here.

Lunched at Bangkok Thai today with officemates. They had Pad Thai and I had my camera:

gallery_21337_5097_92565.jpg

The peanut smell was enticing, and they both enjoyed it. Note the lime slice - Tom, they must have heard you!

I had "Crazy Noodles" for the first time - Medium-thick rice noodles stir fried with choice of meat (chicken for me today) Thai Chili Sauce, Thai Basil (which infused the whole dish with flavor), onion, hot pepper and exquisitely crisp vegetables. I asked for it "**" spicy, as indicated in the menu, but I think it was spicier than that. No complaints from me, though. Ironically, it was a slight language barrier that brought the extra hear, but not what you might expect in a Thai restaurant - our server was Russian! It was an excellent, inexpensive lunch.

gallery_21337_5097_131477.jpg

Crazy Noodles

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

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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How funny! I have been back several times for the Phad Thai and specifically asked for a lime wedge if they didn't provide one. Maybe they finally got the hint! BTW, I asked for it 3 '*' last time and I'm thinking my comfort zone is somewhere between 2 and 3 '*'.

Oddly enough, I stopped there for lunch yesterday without realizing that they were closed for lunch yesterday. If it wasn't for some errands I had to run today during lunch, I might've come back today and actually run into you guys!

edited: for clarity

Edited by tino27 (log)

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  • 3 weeks later...

Lunched at Bangkok Thai again today. Since it was a "soup" kinda day, that's how we started.

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Tom Yum Kai

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Zap Beef

The Zap Beef was simply amazing. The fish-sauce infused broth was redolent with chili, bits of ginger and lemongrass, herbs, lime juice topped with rice powder, scallions and cilantro - a symphony of flavors and textures.

For our mains, we ordered as follows:

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Thai Gra Pao

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Bob chose pork (chicken and beef are also available) for this "Hot Basil" infused dish.

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Choo Chee Curry with Tofu

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Again, I had my choice of protein and opted for Tofu. The curry sauce was plate-licking good, and at the heat level requested. The chunks of fresh pineapple were especially noteworthy with the gravy; Bangkok Thai is very consistent about the freshness of the vegetables (and fruits) in their dishes - crisp and tasty.

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

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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I am glad to see the move didn't affect the quality of their food. Is the Warrensville Rd. location still there or is it completely gone? I never did make it to the new place this past summer but I have a feeling I will be there quite a bit next year.

I would also love to hear about peppermint at Lander Circle if anyone has been.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

I'm almost wondering if the C&Y Dim Sum thread should be merged into this thread. I'm going to post about C&Y Dim Sum here for that reason. Last weekend, Bob and I just had a Dim Sum craving and went to C&Y all by ourselves. Although the fried items could have been hotter - everything we tasted was great!

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Jook

Bits of meat and tea-smoked eggs made this Jook quite tasty.

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Beef Ribs w/Black Pepper Sauce

Spicy and delicious!

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"Turtles" Filled with Chive & Shrimp

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Pork Fun Gwoh

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Stuffed Eggplant

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Bean Curd Wrapper stuffed with Mushrooms and Shrimp

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My favorite! Chiu Chow Fun Gwoh

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Xiao Long Bao

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Inside the Xiao Long Bao

We're planning to return to C&Y soon - with more company, so hopefully more dishes! There are also more photos on my blog, and they seem to post with better quality there. Glad to see C&Y is keeping Cleveland in quality Dim Sum!

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

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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I joined Nancy, Bob, and several other Slow Food folks at C & Y yesterday. (Not a formal SF event, just an impromptu get-together). We enjoyed many of the dishes that Nancy documented above, plus a few others:

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Several steamed dishes: bean curd skin wrappers in the forground, siu mai and beef ribs in the background. All were quite tasty and fresh. I especially enjoyed the beef ribs.

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Cha siu bao: Barbecued pork buns. The dough was lighter and softer than I expected. These are steamed rather than baked.

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Sesame Balls: glutinous rice wrapped around a sweet paste filling, rolled in sesame seeds and deep fried. I nice contrast between the crunchy exterior and the soft filling.

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Taro Balls: A savory pork and shrimp filling surrounded by mashed taro root, deep-fried golden and crunchy.

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Egg custard tarts.

We went early (11:00 AM), before the crowds arrived. All of the food was freshly made and delicious. The amazing thing is that our bill, including tax and tip, came to $120 for eight people. We feasted on a huge selection of wonderful Dim Sum for $15 each!

I'm so glad we've got this place in Cleveland.

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  • 4 months later...

I came to this thread thinking I'd add an addendum to the comments about Wonton Gourmet. I just presumed that NancyH, Stuart_S, or Tino27 would have already posted about it. I can't believe that there is no mention here of Wonton Gourmet...

This past Sunday was my second visit there. I met NancyH, her husband Bob, and Tino27 for a late lunch. My initial impressions from a previous visit are confirmed. This place is terrific! They present themselves as "authentic Hong Kong Style". I can't speak with any authority on that - the last time I was in Hong Kong was decades ago. :huh: I can say that there are items on the menu here you won't find any where else in Cleveland.

We started with a lovely soup of fish maw and dried scallop. This has an intense "umami" flavor and a silky texture.

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A few drops of red vinegar add a nice accent:

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We wanted to try a few Dim Sum style dishes. The Turnip Cake is representative. My picture doesn't do it justice - very fresh, with a crisp crust:

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I also enjoyed the shrimp wrapped in rice noodle:

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The rice ball with Chinese sausage is another example of fresh in-house preparation:

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Finally, soft-shell crab was simply wonderful. The crabs were live just before being prepared. The batter was thin and crisp.

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This is a modest, unassuming little storefront restaurant, but it's clear that they're serious about preparing fresh and tasty food. Another unexpected treasure for Cleveland foddies. :smile:

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Though I did manage to blog our lunch at Wonton Gourmet, I didn't have time to post on EG before running to NY. Report and photos here.

It was a fabulous meal. The house-made rice cakes with two types of pork (house made lap cheong and smoked belly) was amazing, and the potstickers worthy of praise.

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

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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  • 3 weeks later...

Back to Wonton Gourmet again. Three of the four in our party had already been here, so we decided to order a few things we hadn't tried yet.

The chive potstickers are a nice variation on this old favorite:

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We ordered the rice noodle without any filling other than chives and cilantro. Very fresh and flavorful.

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Much as we all love the fish-maw and dried scallop soup, it was time to try something new. Chive dumplings and Chinese broccoli in a savory pork broth. Delicious!

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Shaomai. These were outstanding, and well worth the wait (they make them fresh to order).

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Black Pepper Beef over spaghetti. (Yes, spaghetti - I guess it's a Hong Kong thing). Just the right touch of peppery spice.

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Grouper balls with vegetables. Fresh and delicately seasoned.

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With all of that excellent food, our bill came to twelve dollars per person, including tax and tip. The food is delicious, the service congenial, and you can't beat the price!

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Once again, Edsel, beautiful pictures!! I attended today along with Edsel and NancyH and was again pleasantly surprised at how "fresh" everything tasted. Such simple and profound flavors makes every visit there a fun time and dynamite experience. And based on the reaction of many of the staff members at Wonton Gourmet, I think they truly enjoy having non-Asian customers who are really looking for a true taste of Cantonese cuisine.

I think my favorite of today was the Chive Dumpling Soup. The dumplings were quite lovely and silky and the soup had suck a lovely pork base to it. Almost unctuous in the mouth.

Afterwards, we made a quick stop over at Koko's Bakery (corner of Payne and E. 38th -- sorry Edsel for getting you lost) where I picked up a nice Almond Bubble Tea and some pork buns which I intend to enjoy soon. The place was definitely hopping with locals. And the bubble tea was delicious.

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