Chai’s Asian Bistro, N. Raleigh, NC

Chai’s Asian Bistro

I’m big on Asian food of most types – I love eating the foods eaten “in country” and I’m also fond of the Americanized versions of those foods.  I visited this restaurant with two dear friends and their two-year old daughter, just as they opened on a Saturday close to noon.

We were seated quickly by a pleasant greeter.  We were brought a high chair (good plan!) and offered drinks right away.  The table was clean and we were happy with the accomodations.

They have a nice menu – we chose to order from the lunch menu which includes choices:  Hibachi, Signature dishes, Vegetarian (yay!), Noodles, and Fried Rice.  Each category had deep choices – from beef to seafood and even TOFU!  (Not really my favorite, tofu…except…well, read on).

In our party, we had one person who is really fairly non-choosy, one who prefers no seafood and me…no meat Mary.  Oh, and the baby!

We decided to each order one entree, and then we’d kinda “share” it around.  One of us ordered the Mongolian Shrimp, Yellow curry chicken and General Tso’s Tofu.  With each meal came a choice of soup or salad, and white or fried rice.  The soup choices were Miso, Egg Drop and Hot & Sour.  Two of us had Miso Soup and steamed white rice, one had salad (with ginger dressing) and fried rice.

Here’s what I tasted:

1.  The miso soup was right on.  Very “standard” miso soup and quite delicious.  It was not as hot as it could have been, but on the UP side, I didn’t burn my mouth!

2.  Steamed white rice was great.  I am a fan of steamed white rice when it is tender, and kinda sticks together – not in a great big lump, but the individual grains stick slightly to each other.  I dunno why I like it that way but I do.  This had just the right amount of stick.

3. General Tso’s Tofu – I don’t like tofu.  Really, it’s just not my cup of tea.  It kinda doesn’t have any flavor, it’s DEFINITELY hard to prepare and so I’m not a fan.  However, once….many moons ago, I had General Tso’s Tofu.  It was at a small Chinese restaurant in Charleston on Orleans or something like that (runs beside Citadel Mall) directlly across from the Fedex/Kinkos.  I thought I had died and gone to heaven.  Tofu that tasted great, and I didn’t have to do anything but order it.  I haven’t seen it on a menu since.  Well…guess what?  There it was, so I had to get it.  The only thing “negative” about it was that I could have used a touch more heat…spice heat, not temperature heat.  I kinda like my General Tso’s to kick a bit.  But, really this was wonderful.  Perfect tangy/sweet/slightly hot (very slightly) sauce, with a nice sprinkling of sesame seeds over the top.  Tender tofu coated and fried.  Wow, yum.  Oh, and I got about 6 pieces of broccoli too!

4.  Mongolian shrimp – I had a shrimp, some crispy noodles and a tiny bit of vegetables.  Was good – again, I am a “bring on the heat” kinda gal…could have given me a touch more in the hot department, but overall the flavor was good.  Loved the crispy noodles.  I had never had the cellophane type noodles fried!

5.  Yellow curry sauce – because of the chicken in this, I didn’t eat any of the curry itself but tasted the sauce – I survived (no throbbing pains in my stomach or anything) so I don’t believe the curry was steeped in chicken…it had nice flavor, and…the highest level of heat I got for the day.  I’ve had yellow curry elsewhere, so I am clear on what it’s supposed to taste like and this was again, pretty spot-on.

General comments:  They were quite good about a two year old smooshing food on the table (she was pretty good and she had a “table protector” packed in!  The server was attentive.  The food arrived promptly- actually we weren’t done with our miso soup and the meal was there.

Two “drawbacks” – even tho we were the only people in the place, one of us had to make due with a teaspoon for a soup spoon.  Understandable if the place was packed, but it wasn’t.  And, this doesn’t really have much to do with the restaurant itself but I ordered green tea.  The vessel with the tea arrived and a tea cup.  When I poured the first cup of tea, the cup heated up so much that I couldn’t drink it.  I had to wait until it had cooled to tepid for the darn cup to cool off.  Luckily, I like my green tea any temperature…but, not “cool” if you are serving someone, as you don’t know HOW they like their tea.

Overall, I would give this place 4 smileys and a “I’d go back”.

Reasons for 4 smileys:  I found something I could eat with ease.  The service was above average.  The food arrived promptly.  The food was tasty.  The food was fresh.  The food was *fairly* healthy – my choice wasn’t the most healthy on the menu.  The soup was not hot enough.  The food could have used a bit more heat (spice) to it.  We received a teaspoon not a soup spoon.  The meal was reasonably priced.


About maryaquino

Food, rock and roll and greyhound lover
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