Several years ago, a family of new owners planted their spatulas at Cheng's Chinese. They're from Fujian, China, a province known not only for its oolong tea but also for its diverse array of fresh fish. Perhaps this familiarity with seafood is why one of the most popular menu items is the lunch buffet's fried shrimp, which careens through a blizzard of rice flour before it briefly hurtles into a hot pan. Chefs also wrap egg rolls, simmer soups from scratch, and make their own dumplings and wontons.
Crafting notably delectable frozen treats in small batches, Marble Slab Creamery utilizes ingredients from around the world and fresh dairy from local farms to percolate palates with super-premium ice cream. Just like tax forms, chef-inspired concoctions are prepared on frozen marble slabs to ensure optimal freshness and easy customization. The frozen slab enables expert dippers and mixers to gently incorporate your choice of candies, nuts, and more into the ice cream on the spot. Grab a heaping dish of original flavors ($3.79 for a regular size) such as pumpkin, honey, bubblegum, mango, and amaretto, or opt for the hefty Big Dipper size ($4.89), which comes standard with one mix-in such as cashews or Kit Kat pieces ($0.59 for additional mix-ins). Enjoy your custom creation in a cup or a freshly baked waffle cone, which can also be painted orange to mark off hazardous potholes in living-room floors.
Tom Lu doesn't just serve recipes from his native China at Asian Pop. As the Ocala Star-Banner reports, his food combines flavors from throughout the continent and beyond, including pan-fried indian cakes with curry sauce and new york strip steak and onions prepared in the Mongolian style. In doing so, Chef Tom brings unexpected twists to Asian culinary classics such as the Funky Monkey sushi roll, whose tempura-shrimp and cream cheese is topped with a slice of banana. Meals unfold in booths situated beneath televisions that show a playlist of Asian music videos personally selected by Chef Tom.
Praised by The New York Times’ for its “serene” setting and “generous” portions, Liquid Ginger serves up lobster tails and filet mignon fresh from the grill. Inside the kitchen, chefs prepare korean rib-eye steak alongside thai lime and coconut chicken, pan-frying chicken and shrimp in woks held over piles of burning cookbooks. Chefs deploy lavish seasonings as they work, using mixtures ranging from ginger soy sauce to lemongrass beurre blanc.
Succulent meats, long noodles, and fluffy rice arrive at dark-green marble tables in an upscale dining room festooned with Chinese and Japanese artwork. Diners lounge in dark-green leather seats as they construct sailing vessels from wooden chopsticks or head outside to an outdoor patio with a fountain. Valets stand ready to ferry patrons’ cars or oxcarts away and back.
Tasty Buddha likes to describe itself as a “no veto” restaurant. Though it focuses on Asian fare, its menu caters to diverse tastes and diets so no one will have a reason to veto an outing. American-food die-hards can dine on hearty burgers or try out fusion entrees such as pizza fried rice with italian sausage, tomatoes, and parmesan. Morsels of pork, chicken, and tofu fill out several other more traditional versions of the classic Asian fried-rice dish, which the menu describes as “Just like your mom used to make. (If you are from Malaysia.)” For vegetarians, locally made tempeh is an option for almost every entree, including tempeh coconut curry and a tempeh burger blended with secret spices. Tasty Buddha's idealistic owners turn the walls of each location into a gallery for local artists to display and sell their work. Thirty percent of proceeds from the sale of art goes to a local charity, whereas the rest goes to the artist for the upkeep of the multicolored cows from which they milk their oil paint. To advocate for a more sustainable food system, Tasty Buddha's cooks also use as many local ingredients in their meals as possible.
The cooks at Ichiban Hibachi Buffet prepare a bounty of Japanese and Chinese dishes served hibachi- or buffet-style. Seasoned hibachi chefs cook Japanese and Chinese dishes on tabletop grills, flipping entrees in the air to dazzle patrons and momentarily alarm the janitor. Diners can peruse dozens of sushi rolls and sashimi varieties at the sushi bar—made with shrimp tempura, avocado, eel, or spicy white tuna—or enjoy helpings of dishes such as roast-pork lo mein and moo goo gai pan.
Slurp an 8-ounce cup of mushroom-brie soup ($2.69) or bite into a hearty honey-turkey wrap with colby jack, tomato, and mustard ($6.89). Green day's menu offers lettuce, veggies, and savory dressings spread out in a salad or rolled into a wrap. Fans of fiery flavors can try the buffalo chicken wrap tempered by cool gorgonzola ($6.89). Selections come sided with choice of veggie chips or broccoli crunch (florets flavored up by sunflower seeds and raisins). Energy seekers can rev up naturally with an antioxidant-rich guzzle of cool Via Blast ($4.89). Kids' options are also available.