The ingredients used in Chinese, Japanese, and Thai cuisine are vastly different, as are the methods of preparation. At Zhuang's Garden, they come together in surprising ways. Eight crackling hibachi-grill tables and a sushi bar represent Japan, and Chinese décor and the aromas of lo mein hint at the traditions of that nation. Glasses of wine clink together above plates of Thai food at the BYOB eatery, where the dishes include curry that is the brilliant yellow of turmeric or a banana salesman’s business card.
Diners at Formosa Asian Cuisine certainly can't complain about a lack of choices: more than 100 pad thai, fried rice, and curry dishes fill the menu, which is organized into beef, chicken, pork, and seafood categories. Quite a few of the dishes turn up the heat—the Dragon & Phoenix tosses jumbo shrimp and general tso's chicken in chili sauce—and others deliver crispy textures, such as the deep-fried duck. Diners savor these meals and sip BYOB beverages in a dining room replete with tasteful touches from pale-pink seating and blond-wood accents to linen napkins folded to eerily resemble your favorite Beatle.
Nestled in the New Britain Village Shopping Center, Gourmet Wok unfurls a pan-Pacific spread of Chinese, and Southeast Asian cuisine that spurns the use of MSG. Guests tote their own beverages to pair with a dinner menu of sumptuous dishes—try chef specialties such as the tangerine beef ($11.95), marinated and tickled over a high flame, or the sizzling subgum wor ba ($12.95), a slumber party of lobster, shrimp, chicken, beef, and veggies gossiping about the uninvited pork. Edamame appetizers ($3.75) make way for the mock chicken with chinese eggplant ($9.95), a seitan-based dish trained as a body double for chicken's grill-jumping stunts.
The married couple behind Asia Oriental Cuisine, Alex and May Zhong, thought they retired from the restaurant business until a vacation across Asia reignited their passion for the continent's diverse cuisines. The Zhongs decided to bring a taste of Thailand, China, Japan, and Vietnam to Lehigh Valley, opening up a Asian eatery of their own in a converted house in Allentown.
Because the Zhongs want to cultivate the atmosphere of a friendly dinner party, visitors are welcome to uncork any beverages brought from home after May happily shows them to their seats. In the kitchen, Alex whips up colorful dishes of peking duck with homemade steamed rolls, Hong Kong?style roast pork, or Indonesian tempeh. Over the years, Alex's recipes have received many honors, including five Reader's Choice Awards from The Morning Call, a Decadent Dish Award in Lehigh Valley Style magazine, a spot on the Chinese Restaurant Foundation's Top 100 Overall Excellence list, and the Guinness world record for most accurate fortune cookies.
The tantalizing smells of chicken simmering in a savory sauce or buttery lobster hit the nose before guests can fully discern where the aromas originate. They might be coming from a plate of chicken slathered with black-bean or garlic sauce or lobster buried in lo mein or fried rice. These are just some of the dishes New China Restaurant’s chefs whip up alongside classic favorites such as general tso’s chicken and mongolian beef, as well as shrimp prepared eight different ways.
The culinary traditions and ingredients of Northern Italy inform many of the dishes at Floga Bistro. Chefs there scatter fennel sausage and prosciutto across regular and gluten-free pizza crusts bound for the rippling warmth of a hearth. They ladle spoonfuls of sun-dried tomatoes, wild mushrooms, and marsala wine cream sauce over tangles of thick, sunshine-hued pappardelle made in-house. With a sharp sizzle, panini presses shut on halved ciabatta rolls hiding rib-eye, caramelized onions, and fontina cheese like the backpack of a totally unprepared secret agent. In the cozy dining room, festive booths and stone accents surround diners, and paintings of cityscapes, flowers, and abstract prints dapple the sage and pumpkin walls.