Category Archives: Pacific Rim & Other Asian

QuickBytes: Konnichi-wa at Caviar

Caviar

Komban wa,” I told the sushi chef, bowing politely and doing the best I could to get out the Japanese words for “good evening” with at least marginal fluency.

He gave me a friendly but very puzzled look.

“I guess I just can’t speak Japanese,” I said, switching back to English.

“No,” he said. “I can’t speak Japanese. I’m from Korea.”

Whatever. He was a heck of a nice guy, and over the course of our first dinner at Caviar, the sleek new Japanese spot next door to the Seelbach on Muhammad Ali, he would fashion us more than $50 worth of sushi, all of it creditable and much of it splendid.
Continue reading QuickBytes: Konnichi-wa at Caviar

Hungry and lonely on Christmas?
Go Pho!

Dishes at Pho Binh Minh
Pho Binh Minh is a lovable and cozy six-table spot that recalls Vietnam Kitchen in its early days. Highlights include lemongrass beef stew (bottom) and grilled pork and noodles (top), plus plenty of fresh herbs and condiments. Photos by Robin Garr.

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes
(Pho Binh Minh, Camille’s)

Psst! Lissen up … I’m going to whisper, because I wouldn’t want to admit this to anyone except you, and you, and you over there, and maybe a couple of hundred thousand other LEO and LouisvilleHotBytes readers: With just about everybody nestled snug in their homes among family and friends on Christmas Day, it can get a little bit creepy out there.

It’s not that I’ve got anything against family and friends and sugar plums and boughs of holly, but doggone it! Have you ever gone out and wandered the streets of Louisville on Christmas? The malls are closed and the parking lots empty. Groceries? Dark. Our favorite eateries? Closed, mostly, doors bolted and maybe a sign Scotch-taped to the front door wishing everyone a happy holiday.

It’s quiet. Way too quiet. The wind whistles through the empty streets with an eerie echo, and the traffic, such as it is, mostly involves happy families with cars full of kids and presents, headed over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother’s house they go.

No matter how well-adjusted you are, it’s hard to blame a person for feeling a little bit cooped up and stir-crazy. Is there any relief? Other than, of course, Grandmother’s house?

Well, maybe.
Continue reading Hungry and lonely on Christmas?
Go Pho!

Craving Crustaceans

“I have yet to meet a pile of shrimp that I was not immediately on good terms with and could not devour promptly,” says Eat ‘N’ Blog correspondent KIM MASSEY. “My deep affection for these little parcels of protein is well matched with my passion for ethnic foods. It’s a fortunate thing, then, that Louisville’s ethnic restaurant community offers so many opportunities to indulge these cravings.”
Needless to say, Kim was quick to volunteer for the challenge of finding some of the region’s most delightful ethnic shrimp dishes. This is her crustacean-loving report:

Let’s start with a duo of appetizers that come dangerously close to displacing shrimp and grits as my favorite way to begin a meal.
The Banh Xeo ($5.60) at Vietnam Kitchen is an inspired creation. An eggy crepe that falls somewhere between a pancake and an omelet, Banh Xeo is pan-fried to a decidedly crispy exterior, then folded over stir-fried shrimp and bean sprouts in a simple but complementary combination of tastes and textures. The salty-sweet acidity of the soy-based sauce provides a perfect foil for the rich crepe. It’s one of those appetizers that you would gladly order in entrée-sized portion, if only you could! (One possibility: Order two.)

Vietnam Kitchen
5339 Mitscher Ave.
363-5154

The Camarones de Alio ($6.99) served at Havana Rumba offer a sumptuous prelude to any meal. A half-dozen plump, tail-on shrimp are sautéed in a simple sauce of olive oil and butter with a smidgen of red pepper and lashings of minced garlic, served sizzling in their clay-pot cooking vessel. This is culinary minimalism at its finest. It’s served with warm, crusty French bread, perfect for mopping up the delightful sauce after the sweet and tender shrimp are down the hatch.

Havana Rumba
4115 Oechsli Ave.
897-1959

That’s just the beginning of the diverse and delicious shrimp dishes available at the city’s ethnic eateries. Consider the shrimp tips ($13) at Queen of Sheba. This splendid dish combines shrimp, onions, tomatoes and green peppers, lightly sautéed in butter with Ethiopian spices. It is served with Kik Wot – a mound of creamy stewed split lentils that would make a satisfying vegetarian dish in itself. Both shrimp and lentils are piled atop injera, the spongy, pancake-like Ethiopian flatbread, which adds a hearty element to an otherwise light entrée. This delightfully complex dish will leave you clamoring to sample more of this wonderful cuisine.

Queen of Sheba Ethiopian
3315 Bardstown Road
459-6301

Another shrimp dish, less subtle but just as satisfying, is the Camarones al Chipotle ($11.50) served at Fiesta Mexicana. A dozen plump shrimp are liberally smothered in a rich, dark sauce of tomatoes and chipotle peppers, with a sprinkling of just-melted Chihuahua cheese. Its smoky heat packs quite a punch, which can be pleasantly tempered with a dollop of sour cream. Served with a side of savory Mexican rice and salad, it’s a hearty, warming dish, a welcome respite to a cold winter evening.

Fiesta Mexicana
5414 Bardstown Road
762-0840

When my crustaceous cravings unite with a desire for the familiar, I beat a hasty retreat to India Palace – a regular port of refuge for a sometimes homesick Brit. It can be so difficult to choose just one dish from the many impressive shrimp options that I frequently give up the struggle and select a contrasting duo. The volcanic, spicy, tangy, Shrimp Vindaloo ($11.95) creates a delightful reverse trajectory of creeping warmth from the back of the throat to the tip of the tongue. It partners perfectly with the mild and aromatic Shrimp Saag ($11.95), a delicate light curry that combines spices, herbs, spinach and a dash of cream. Add a side of Pilau rice, a warm fluffy round of naan flatbread, and there you have it: a culinary hug from a much loved friend!

India Palace
9424 Shelbyville Road
394-0490

Asian “fusion” at Kimis

Kayrouz

(Kimis Asian Bistro, Voice-Tribune, Sept. 13, 2006)

In physics, “fusion” refers to the nuclear process that occurs within stars, where atoms are forced together under high temperature and pressure until they merge, releasing a tremendous amount of energy.

In jazz, fusion is a genre that merges the music with other styles, from rock to rhythm and blues.

And in dining out, fusion represents a creative blend of cuisines that aren’t usually seen on the same plate. At its best, fusion cuisine can be a delight, as pretty as a jazz riff and as energetic as sunlight.

Now restaurateur John Chung brings his gentle brand of fusion to the far East End with Kimis Asian Bistro, offering an easy blend of Japanese dishes accented with Korean and Thai flavors.

Kimis, pronounced “Kim-eez,” represents two Chinese characters that mean “Abundant purity.” It’s independent and locally owned, although stylish modern graphics – and displays of sample bottles of sauces bearing the Kimis brand name, still under development – hint at larger dreams for a chain-to-be.
Continue reading Asian “fusion” at Kimis

Earlier reviews of Pacific Rim & Other Asian Restaurants

Annie Cafe
Asiatique
Bendoya Sushi Bar
Bombay International Market
Cafe Mimosa
Fuji Japanese Steakhouse
India Palace
Kashmir
Kobe
Koreana
Lee’s Korean
Lemongrass Cafe
Mai’s Thai
Maido Essential Japanese
Osaka, a Sushi Bar
Sakura Blue
Sala Thai
Sapporo Japanese Steakhouse
Shalimar Indian Restaurant
Shogun Japanese Steakhouse
Thai Cafe
Thai-Siam
Thai Taste
Tokyo Japanese Restaurant
Vietnam Kitchen
Yaching’s East West Cuisine
Yang Kee Noodle
Zen Garden