Saturday, December 27, 2008

Restaurant Review

We've tried dining at a few new places around town, and have found a few new places you should try and one you should completely avoid.

Avoid: Kyoto
Here is a review I wrote on Yahoo! Local's restaurant review:

My wife and I arrived to an empty restaurant on a Friday night. Two couples were ahead of us; one already had their food and another was awaiting their order.

We placed our order after a few minutes of reviewing the menu. We only ordered five (non-complicated) sushi rolls. After 45 minutes of waiting, we received our sushi — which was very mediocre and not like, "Wow, I waited 45 minutes, and it's OK because it's phenomenal sushi," but rather "Holy crap, why did it take 45 minutes to prepare this?"

We'll never go again, and we don't want you to waste your time or money either. Go to the places you already know are good in town.

Folks, I doubt this place will be in business in a year (or less). When will people learn that you can't come to Springfield with blah Asian food and/or bad service?

Try: French Quarter Café
We've not been too accustomed to New Orleans cuisine, but we definitely enjoyed the flavor of the French Quarter Café, which is located at 320 Park Central East.

The night Rachel and I went, there was only one other couple in the restaurant, but it was during the week and probably a little earlier than most people eat so that wasn't indicative of anything. The décor was very appropriate with a lot of French Quarter-style colors, sights, and sounds peppered throughout. Our waiter told us the restaurant is family-owned and operated by native New Orleans residents. When we went the week before Christmas, it had only been open for three weeks.

We ordered our meals and also got an appetizer, which included alligator, hush puppies, shrimp, and some other French Quarter favorites. I don't normally like hush puppies, but these were actually tasty and not soaked with grease like the ones Captain D's and Long John Silver's offer.

Rachel ordered a bowl of seafood gumbo which was served with garlic bread, and I had a muffalata. I ordered half a sandwich and received what I would call a whole sandwich. I'm not sure how anyone could even think of eating a whole one; I could only eat half of the half and had lunch for the next day.

For dessert we enjoyed a single order of beignets, which were a nice sweet ending to our meal.

We both liked our dishes and the meal was very affordable — about $20 for an appetizer, two meals, and an order of three beignets, which would be the theme of most of the other dishes on the menu.

Try: Pan Asia
A nice little cozy Asian joint, Pan Asia has a flavor from nearly any Asian country you'd want to try.

One of the first things we noticed was the "Busch's Grove" chopsticks on the table. Busch's Grove was a popular, highfalutin place in St. Louis (that we never tried). Upon inquiry, we found out the owner, a native Springfieldian, was a major chef there prior to its closing.

We enjoyed a quick appetizer sushi, just to try it out. We enjoyed a happy hour sushi roll for about $4. It was surprisingly a very good roll; you never know whether or not a place with a lot of variety will put enough effort into their sushi. They do at Pan Asia.

But I think the variety was a little problematic for Rachel, who couldn't figure out what to order for her meal. She wanted to try something different, and you could definitely call the Cambodian dish she ordered just that. It was so different that she just couldn't eat her dish. The owner came out and told her he was sorry she didn't enjoy the dish and that he wanted to make her something she'd enjoy.

She apologized immensely, but he persisted that he was glad that she told him she hated the dish so that he could give her a chance to want to come back than to try that one dish and never want to return. She was much happier with her Kung Pao beef dish and wants to return fo sho.

On top of being so understanding about the bad dish, the owner also treated us to a vegetable shrimp roll, which was very, very tasty and reminded us of the flavor we used to get at Pho Grand in St. Louis.

After we had eaten a little bit, the owner came out and sat down with us and chatted for a good 30 minutes. He told us about his time a Busch's Grove and what all he has done throughout his career. Funny enough, he attended OSU in Columbus, which is Rachel's stomping grounds. Long story short, he knows how to run a restaurant, and I hope the stigma of Traffic nightclub doesn't hurt his business (that's where it's located).

If you're looking for great variety of Asian cuisine at very affordable prices, try it out!


Michelle said...

I'm very glad to hear that PanAsia is a good restaurant. I wanted to check it out, but I was nervous because I kind of know someone who works there, and he creeped me out. I'll tell you the story later.

Anyway, I have went to Kyoto twice now. I thought the sushi wasn't bad... granted, I ordered california rolls. To me, that's my test. If you mess up california rolls, you must be terrible. I called it in one day, and the other lunch, I waited about 15 minutes (which I remember thinking was a long time to make one roll...)

My all-time favorite place for sushi is still Mijuri. Jim and I could eat there everyday, and it's fairly reasonable. Their california rolls are better than anyone else, and their new style california rolls are awesome. We like the sashimi and feel like it's actually safe... and we like the volcano rolls, the summer time rolls, and the crunch roll. Just about anything they make is good! Bento boxes for lunch are the best deal, I think.

Aaron said...

Everybody says that, but we hated Mijuri when we went there. Maybe we're going to have to try it again. I don't remember why we didn't like it.

We have also enjoyed the sushi at Ohana. The monster roll is one of the best sushi rolls I've had in a long time — but it's $12, so we aren't able to get that very often.