To Yes Asia Cafe owners Nancy and Tiger Huynh, their business in America is the end of a long journey that began with their families' attempts to escape to the US from Vietnam. Despite multiple tries each year, Nancy's family was always turned back. "There were scary moments," she writes on the café's website, "and I'm glad it's over." Tiger's family was luckier, drifting into a safe harbor after seven days in a tiny boat.
Today at Yes Asia Cafe, both Huynhs celebrate the cuisine of their childhoods with a menu of traditional pan-Asian and Vietnamese dishes. Like a poorly calibrated compass, banh mi sandwiches fuse East and West, stuffing crusty french bread rolls with fillings such as curry chicken and cured pork. Succulent morsels of barbecue pork and grilled beef mingle with cilantro, mint, pickled veggies, and peanuts in rice and noodle bowls. And an impressive drink menu cleanses palates with jasmine teas and jackfruit smoothies.
Asian Harbor serves a blend of Japanese and Thai dishes in a sleek, modern dining room. Rich Thai spices turn curries the same deep-orange hue as the walls, which glow with light from hanging cylindrical lamps. A neon-lined sushi bar dishes out more than 20 specialty rolls. And a lengthy list of cooling cocktails, sake, and wine balances hot dishes on the menu such as Spicy Basil, an entree of sautéed meat, snow peas, fresh basil, chili, and bell peppers. Unlike libraries beefing with Confucius, the wok section of the menu includes several Chinese classics, such as general tso's chicken and egg foo yong.
Though its name suggests a rather limited menu, Asparagus happily defies expectations with a range of Thai and Vietnamese dishes that pair various ingredients and flavors with its eponymous vegetable. Stalks of asparagus may arrive alongside a roasted Cornish game hen, stir-fried with tofu and baby bokchoy in a Thai chili paste, or mixed with sautéed shrimp and scallops in a ginger-soy glaze. If asparagus isn’t your thing, try the grilled rib-eye with house mustard sauce or the French-inspired lamb shanks braised with a reduced cabernet sauce. The restaurant’s chefs are known for their artistic arrangements, which certainly feel at home in a dining room decorated with cross-cut bamboo and artworks acquired by the owners on trips to Asia. A baby grand piano sits in the lounge, which comes to life every Saturday night as musicians hammer away at keys or drum with raw stalks of asparagus.
Chi Tung began as a small Chinese restaurant in 1988, but has since evolved into a 200-seat pan-Asian kingdom that houses a hibachi steak house as well as a lounge area. In the midst of several growth spurts, owners Jinny and Dan Zhao have trained their focus on upholding high culinary standards. They parceled their cooking team into three separate kitchens, each one dedicated to producing authentic Chinese, Thai, or Japanese food. In these highly specialized quarters, cooks prepare hundreds of menu items, such as mongolian beef, shrimp pad thai, and chicken satay. Although the cooks work at a steady clip, they adhere to traditional recipes and techniques when blending custom sauces and handcrafting more than 100 types of sushi.
Meals at Thipi Thai are all about indulging the senses. Its assortment of classic Thai comfort foods deftly balance sour, sweet, and salty flavors, while intensely aromatic ingredients such as curry paste and basil tickle noses. After warming starters such as traditional tom kha kai soup, diners move onto entrees of fried rice tossed with shrimp and calamari, or duck in red curry sauce. These dishes can run the gamut from mild to intensely spiced, but guests always have final say as to how much heat their taste buds can handle.
The restaurant's sensory atmosphere extends beyond the menu. Take the eye-catching dining room, for instance?its crimson walls are adorned with gilt-framed artwork, while saffron archways frame the umbrellas that dangle upside-down from the ceiling like chandeliers.
On cold winter days, it’s not uncommon for the windows of Thai Pot dining room to fog up. The cheerful interior keeps warm with the steam rising from simmering tom yum soups, sizzling stir-fried noodles, and cups of hot tea. Soft lights shine down on the ruddy faces of diners, who dig into fiery red and green curries, chock full of pork, beef, and shrimp. Others twirl forks in mounds of noodles speckled with fresh vegetables and flavorful herbs. An accommodating wait staff stands by to refill water glasses and jot down orders, taking note of special culinary preferences, such as a fondness for extra spice or a desire to have regular bell peppers swapped out for bell peppers made of solid gold.