A "tuk tuk" (pronounced "took took") is a type of three-wheeled taxi service commonly found in Thailand. It's used by tourists as well as locals, who appreciate the speed and convenience. Westminster's Tuk Tuk Thai Bistro tries to capture the above qualities in a restaurant, and it largely succeeds. But there's a certain elegance to Tuk Tuk that you might not expect to find on the streets of Bangkok. The kitchen takes typical street foods and classes them up, resulting in a menu that seems both familiar and adventurous.
• For $10, you get $20 worth of Asian cuisine during lunch from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. • For $20, you get $40 worth of Asian cuisine during dinner from 3 p.m. until 11 p.m. Diners who redeem their Groupon Thursday, Friday, or Saturday after 8:30 p.m. receive complimentary edamame and sake.
"ZEN," reads the letters attached to the dining room's wall. Calming green walls and the occasional potted tree serve as soothing design elements. Modern hanging lamps float above diners' heads, suspended from the matte-gray piping that lends the dining room a subtly industrial-chic look. It?s in this invigorating space that diners get excited about the memorable culinary quests they?re about to embark on. One end of the room is striped with a sushi bar, but patrons can also order rice-swaddled fillets at their tables. Those looking to snap up something different peruse a more general menu influenced by Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, and Japanese cuisine.
The name means "taste" in Thai, and at Ghin Asian Blend & Sushi, flavor always comes first. Averse to calling their dishes "Asian fusion," the restaurant's chefs instead refer their genre as "Asian blend." They aim to bring the nuances of many cultures' kitchens seamlessly together on the same plates, creating meals that are as artful as they are satisfying. The tom yum soup, for instance, showcases a Thai- and Malaysian-style broth made from chili and fresh lime, whereas a spicy, Japanese tamari marinade brings the heat to the tropical-inspired tuna poke appetizer. Maki rolls display similar melding, matching spicy tuna with macadamia nuts and beef tataki with jalapeno. Even classic American dishes receive a global update?burgers are topped with sweet chili aioli, lamb chops are sauced with a ginger sake tamari reduction, and cuts of chicken are given their own delicious passports.
Sushi is a complex world of flavors, textures, and colors that may seem intimidating at first. Wasabi Sushi Bar?s spread of more than 90 rolls includes simple california and bluefin rolls for the sushi newbie as well as adventurous items for those delving deeper into the realm of maki.
Yellowfin tuna and cucumber slices fill the more simplistic rolls, and shrimp tempura and avocado cut the delicate brine flavor of barbecued eel in other offerings. The sushi chefs also liberally sprinkle a housemade tempura crunch topping at the sushi bar, and new york strip steaks crackle beneath spicy teriyaki sauces at the grill.
Carved straight-backed chairs and hanging crimson lanterns cultivate a traditional Chinese vibe inside Golden Shanghai's spacious dining room. Nearby, a wall with strings of firecrackers and golden Buddha statues creates an exotic backdrop for family dinners or faked vacation photos. In keeping with the traditional décor theme, chefs plate MSG-free Chinese classics such as crispy duck and spicy Hunan beef as well as more adventurous specialties from a separate authentic-Chinese menu.
Elsewhere, however, the kitchen defies standard categories, bringing together the disparate cuisines of Japan, Thailand, and Vietnam for eclectic feasts. Tender morsels of Thai satay chicken share table space with Japanese sushi and udon, and chefs also stir up bowls of Vietnamese noodle soup. As they chomp their way through the tastes of the East, visitors can toast another year of not renewing their passport with glasses of tropical cocktails or frosty, thirst-quenching beers.