Category Archives: Pacific Rim & Other Asian

From the top, three Indian breads, spinach aloo saag and veggie korma at Taj Palace

We miss Diwali but dine well at Taj Palace

If we lived in India, there’s no way we could have been unaware that last week was Diwali, the Festival of Lights, when Indians – and Hindus around the world – celebrate the triumph of good over evil with a holiday filled with lights, color, fireworks, music and dance and plenty of good things to eat.

Diwali is like Christmas, New Year’s, Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July all rolled into one, or in other words, about as big as Derby. Diwali doesn’t have much of a profile here in the U.S., though. Well, the Hindu Temple of Kentucky off Westport Road did have a celebration last week. We couldn’t find Diwali at any of the local restaurants, though, but that didn’t keep us from enjoying a delicious Indian meal at Taj Palace. Continue reading

Pad Thai at Thai Cafe

I want to bring the heat at Thai Cafe, but the chef won’t let me

Where in the world do you find the globe’s most fiery-spicy cuisine? This seemed like a simple enough question when I dreamed it up amid a sudden craving for culinary fire the other day, but it’s hard to get a definitive answer. Continue reading

Chicken raasu ra bhat

Mt. Everest View offers a delicious taste of Nepal

Our friend Ashley just came to town recently, from Alabama by way of 10 years in New York City. A savvy foodie with a love for ethnic eats and a proud adoptive Brooklynite, she came to Louisville expecting great regional fare, but worried that her new home town might be a culinary purgatory when it came to world cuisine.
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The goat biryani at Shandaar.

We experience India at Shandaar and Kashmir

India! To Western eyes, it is one of the most exotic of lands. India seems very far away, and yet it is strangely familiar in ways that draw us in. In your mind’s eye, think about the Taj Mahal in moonlight: Those shimmering white marble domes look like nothing you’d ever expect to see in Louisville, yet its strangely compelling beauty transcends time and space.
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A full plate from the lunch buffet at Shandaar Indian Restaurant.

Something old, something new

Let’s touch down for a couple of quick hits on the metro dining scene this week. Uptown Café has been a Bardstown Road landmark for 20 years, serving always reliable fare in a friendly setting that keeps bringing people back for more.

Shandaar Indian is so new that its well-crafted Facebook page still has that new-page smell. So far out in the East End that it feels closer to downtown Shelbyville than downtown Louisville, it proved to be well worth the trek.
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Rumplings' Piggy Bowl

Ramen guys do ramen and dumplings at Rumplings

Warmed by the delights of four big bowls of steaming ramen at Rumplings in five day’s time, I asked my baby boomer pals on Facebook a simple question this week: When did you first encounter instant ramen? What did you think of it when you did?
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Vit Phá Lau, the "real" duck at Vietnam Kitchen

Duck taunters all win at Vietnam Kitchen

Hey! Vietnamese Kitchen’s got duck! Succulent, delicious duck, fatty and rich! And they’ve got “mock duck,” too: an alternative invented by vegetarian Buddhist monks! Either way, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be … well, you know.

Naturally my mind spun a Pythonesque duck-taunting fight.
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Pad-Thai at TanThai.

It’s worth fighting the bridges to get to TanThai

The news that Thai-Siam had closed after 25 years of dishing up Thai cuisine to Louisville-area diners came with more of a sense of nostalgia than loss, I’d say.

When it opened in 1989, I was beside myself with joy. Having discovered Thai cuisine in California way back in the day, I loved it so hard, and ached for it to make its way east. Continue reading

Stir-fry of broccoli, tofu and black beans over tender rice noodles.

Thai Cafe: Not Quite “Consummate,” But Fun

Well, hey now. What’s this? A new restaurant reviewer at The Courier-Journal? How about that! This sort of thing fascinates me because I used to occupy that pulpit myself, as dining critic for the late, great Louisville Times (and, after its death, The CJ) until I left the building in 1990.
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Lamb in a sweet potato basket at Asiatique.

Asiatique does fusion even when fusion isn’t a thing

Hey, when did fusion cuisine stop being a thing? It seems like only yesterday – well, OK, maybe it was the ’80s and ’90s – when top chefs had everyone oohing and aahing over such multicultural goodies as Wolfie Puck’s smoked salmon and caviar pizza at Beverly Hills’ Ma Maison or Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s pricey Thai-French mash-ups at his almost-eponymous Vong restaurant in New York City. Continue reading

Pad Thai at Thai Noodles.

Celebrate the Noble Noodle at Thai Noodles

Life as a hunter-gatherer was hard, no question about that. As the philosopher Thomas Hobbes famously put it, this life was “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”

But at least paleolithic humans didn’t have to make many decisions at supper time. Knock over an animal, whack off a chunk and chow down. Cooking it was optional, once people learned to tame fire. It was only when humans settled down in agricultural societies about 10,000 years ago that culinary life got complicated. Continue reading