Dishes as vibrant and diverse as the UN’s annual Mardi Gras celebration deck the tabletops at Kogen’s, the seventh Asian-influenced eatery borne from the Mark Pi restaurant group. Drawing inspiration from Japanese street food, Chinese dry-food markets, and upscale American cuisine, the chefs craft an artful and varied menu that embodies both traditional favorites and experimental creations. Here, helpings of pad thai and hunan chicken share real estate with kung pao lo mein and sashimi platters. The signature sushi rolls dabble in a range of flavors, for example, the Margarita roll combines spicy tuna with avocado, lime, and wasabi mayo, and the Fire Dragon roll sets tongues ablaze with tempura shrimp, spicy tuna, spicy mayo, and sriracha sauce.
Mulan Asian Bistro mines the culinary history of China and Thailand to build the entrees and signature noodles dishes that fill the lunch and dinner menus. The dan-dan garlic noodle dish with chicken accessorizes a nest of egg noodles and bean sprouts with a spicy coat of ground chicken stir-fried with scallions, garlic and chili peppers ($5.95 for lunch, $8.50 for dinner). Morsels of battered chicken breast share space with broccoli-cap roommates in orders of sesame chicken ($6 for lunch, $10.25 for dinner), fighting over how much sauce each piece gets and making a chore wheel to decide which has to clean the plate. Coax forth spice-driven salivations with the thai red curry shrimp's bowl of bell peppers, bamboo shoots, and shrimp bobbing in a simmering mixture of sweet coconut milk and spicy red curry ($7 for lunch, $10.95 for dinner). Vegetable entrees break from the meaty chains of traditional proteins with herbaceous items such as the spicy mala string beans ($5.50 for lunch, $7.35 for dinner), which can also double as a vegan-friendly medium for tin can telephones.
Now entering the fourth generation of familial ownership, Ding Ho continues its 55-year tradition of prepping and polishing plates stacked creatively with savory meats. Although many delectable dishes compete for top honors, regulars often launch off from the safe, satiating platform provided by an order of crispy egg rolls ($1.50 each). The char sue bok toy arrives steaming with barbecued pork with Chinese greens in a hot pan ($7.75 dinner only), and the kung pao beef engulfs taste buds with beef, diced vegetables, and peanuts glazed with a hot, spicy sauce ($9.50 dinner only). For eclectic forkfuls of flavor, noodle mavens can indulge in orders of lo mein with pork ($5.75/lunch, $8/dinner), vegetables ($5.25/lunch, $7.50/dinner), or beef ($5.75/lunch, $8.50/dinner) or dig through the curry-splashed Singapore rice noodles in search of buried teeth treasures such as shrimp, chicken, and barbecued pork ($9.95 dinner only).
A part-time college job turned into a career when John Ko married the daughter of China Dynasty's original owners. John, his wife, and his in-laws are content with maintaining the same traditions that have lasted more than 25 years. John's mother-in-law continues to work in the kitchen as head chef, cooking a familiar assortment of classic Chinese dishes that draws inspiration from various regional styles throughout the country. Chinese eggplant in garlic sauce, Cantonese-style roast duck, and spicy Szechwan green beans with chicken represent just a handful of dishes that have endured at China Dynasty over the decades.
A golden statue of a jovial, laughing Buddha greets diners as soon as they enter the restaurant's expanded space, which features two dining rooms as well as a full-service bar area. Lipstick-red chairs surround the tables that fill the intimately lit space, and red accent walls similarly add a splash of color amid the rooms' pale green and tan color schemes. In addition to the Buddha statue, China Dynasty features a small collection of traditional Asian artwork and artifacts on its walls, including silk clothing, oversized Chinese hanzi, and baby pictures of the restaurant's first lo mein noodle.
True to its name, Flags and Beyond doesn't simply stock the stars and stripes. Its catalog boasts colorful banners for both general decoration and holiday cheer. Seasonal flags ring in autumn with images of kittens lounging in a jack-o'-lantern or honor spring with Easter bunnies and painted eggs. Alternatively, a selection of patriotic flags includes classic American symbols, such as the Liberty Bell and a soaring eagle carrying George Washington in its talons. Flags for everyday display proclaim welcoming phrases, from There's no place like home to You are my sunshine! And for added exterior decor, the store carries creative mailbox covers that delight neighbors and mail carriers alike.
At The Lazy Chameleon, chefs bring out the best in fresh seafood with tropical flourishes: they serve back-fin crab cakes with creole mustard, for instance, and drizzle cilantro-lime sauce over blackened tilapia. The environs are similarly subtropical, with hanging fishnets and verdant plants enlivening the dining room. In keeping with the jovial atmosphere, guests can try out experimental dance moves to the beat of live music four nights a week or feel the adrenaline rush that accompanies winning a card game at euchre night on Tuesday.