1500 Mill St, Suite 104; 336.574.3300
As a connoisseur of Greensboro's enticing spread of global cuisine I'm only about average. That said, Saffron stands out to me as the highest expression of the Gate City's Asian culinary offerings. I've never regretted the bill at Saffron, although it can sometimes add up. The service, courteous but unobtrusive, conspires to make the feast unfold: delectable samosas, entrees ranging tandoori chicken tikka to lamb rogan josh and vegetable masala, and copious amounts of red wine.
Taste of Thai
1500 Mill St.; 336.273.1318
Like Saffron, Joe Thoopsamoot's Taste of Thai occupies real estate in the well-heeled Westover Gallery of Shops. More stable than the current government of Thailand, where the military ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra only a week ago, Taste of Thai has been open since 1997. I've only eaten here once, but I remember it as a pleasurable experience. Checking over the entrées, almost all of which come with a choice of shrimp, pork, chicken, beef or tofu and vegetables, it's easy to see why. Let's start with pad Thai, the famous fried noodle dish, and proceed to pad khing, a dish that includes stir-fried ginger, pepper, salted soy bean, onion and baby corn.
5318 W. Market St.; 336.297.0001
Two visits to Seoul Garden have met with varying degrees of success. Korean food remains a somewhat unknown quantity in Greensboro, and with staff members limited in English proficiency and the menu similarly tilted toward the native language the experience can be a bit intimidating for the uninitiated. And yet I feel safe saying the adventurous foodie will find herself amply rewarded. Enjoy the clumsy experience of grappling with various pickled vegetable appetizers with chopsticks. Relish the big bowls of raw and cooked combinations. Forget for a moment about down east barbecue, and try some from the Far East.
Pho Hien Voung
4109 Spring Garden St.; 336.294.5551
Regarded by many of our culinary informants as the best Vietnamese in the city, PHV also champions the differentiated meal in a bowl. When the Celsius drops and colds catch us by surprise as we cast longing glances back at the summer, pho will be our salvation. With a heady broth, thick rice noodles and slices of beef the soup comes with a side plate of cilantro, basil and jalapeño peppers that can be tossed into the mix in proportions to suit the individual taste.
332 Tate St.; 336.379.7444
Like Seoul Garden, the Boba House excels at the raw-and-cooked combination in a steaming bowl. With no national identity, Boba's all-vegetarian cooking style might appropriately be called fusion. If I recall correctly, a meal at this university area stalwart could be had for little more than five bucks. Along with presentation, the restaurant's signature charm is its use of soy-based meat imitations. For starters there are the crab blossoms: minced imitation crab and shrimp mixed with cream cheese and celery, fried in wonton wrappers and served with sweet chili sauce. On the soup list we are especially intrigued by "poultry" in motion, described as "a delightful soup with cellophane noodles, shitake mushrooms, and 'chicken.'"
423-B Tate St.; 336.370.9677
As much a feast of the senses as a place where people ingest food, the first thing that jumps out at you upon entering the premises are the wooden trays of what staff writer Amy Kingsley has described as "artfully arranged raw fish" ferried by young American women. Then there are the patrons huddled around a three-sided counter within the gleaming confines of the place observing another realm of action: young Asian men in bandanas wielding large knives, carving the meat and preparing the presentation.
948-D Walker Ave.; 336.272.2800 or 336.272.9300
A staple of inner-city and student ghettos everywhere Chinese restaurants hardly seem Chinese anymore. And China Wok is no exception. Less an experience than a reliable place to get an affordable and satisfying meal, China Wok is a dependable friend. If I really want to stuff myself I go with the egg foo youn with pork. For comfort food I favor fried pork dumplings dipped in soy sauce. And when I was broke I couldn't do better than the vegetable delight bowl for $3.95. Oh, and the sweet tea - let me tell you: it comes in a plastic tub that can be recycled as a lunch pail.
413 Tate St.; 336,379.0744
Less decorous than Saffron, India Palace more than amply covers all the bases of South Asian cuisine, with pakoras and samosas on offer, not to mention all variants of nan flat bread. The delectable condiment known as chutney also merits entry, along with entrees both vegetarian and meat-based including the hearty aloo palak, and all kinds of curry and tandoor dishes. The mango ice cream is highly recommended. India Palace is advertising $6.95 weekday lunch specials and $4.99 Saturday lunch specials for the month of September, but the management makes no guarantees after that.
217 S. Elm St.; 336.370.9281
Serving the lawyers and government workers who populate downtown during the day, newcomer Thai Pan advertises a $7.50 lunch special. The stained glass piece commissioned from Ellenburg and Shaffer over the doorway gives a hint of the eatery's class. A glance at the menu reveals that the kitchen staff makes liberal use of coconut milk - always a good sign. The specials themselves are similarly promising: pad Thai on Mondays and green curry pork and chicken on Fridays, for instance.
US Trust Building; 301 N. Elm St.; Suite 101, 336.373.0211
Masoud and Annah Awartani have earned a loyal following in Greensboro since they first appeared at the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market a number of years ago. After a difficult run on West Market Street they now serve in the heart of the business district. While their culinary style can be situated in the Mediterranean basin, it's also firmly rooted in western Asia - the contested territory of Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Israel, to be more specific. As such, Greensboro is now privileged to the staples of fine Arab cooking: smooth hummus, comforting falafel, tangy labneh cheese soaked in olive oil and honeyed baklava. Where the Awartanis diverge from convention is in their use of locally grown beef and chicken and their adherence to the slow food ethic.