From The Magazine: Delaware Ethnic Restaurant Scene Boasts 14 Asian Hot Spots
When it comes to selecting where to get your sushi on, The Small Wonder has a big list from which to choose.
The Small Wonder’s ethnic restaurant scene has become one big melting pot. Dishes once limited to big cities—think sushi, falafel, pad Thai, and lengua tacos—are prevalent all over the state. Corner taquerias vie for strip center space with pizzerias and Chinese takeouts. And to blur the lines further, many ethnic restaurants blend the cuisine of several countries. There are so many ethnic eateries in Delaware that a comprehensive guide would fill an issue. In case you missed the February DT, here is installment one of dining writer Pam George’s epic roundup of old and new favorites.
Asian, Part I
Longtime residents remember when Asian cuisine was a synonym for Chinese food, usually takeout. If you got lucky, you stumbled upon a sushi spot. Now you’ll find sushi in Korean restaurants and General Tso’s chicken in sushi spots. Add a little pad Thai or Vietnamese pho to the mix? Why not!
Known for: Changing its name from Padi, which made news when an employee’s negative social media posts went viral. The new restaurant loses the Google-search baggage and presents a fresh face. Insider tip: Many favorites made the transition from Padi to Asian Kitchen, especially on the sushi side. The “Dirty Pop” roll, with king crab, asparagus, cucumber, avocado, salmon and caviar is still finished off with a blowtorch sear. But the kitchen has added more Malaysian and Thai fare, with noodle dishes like mee Siam (Siamese noodles), drunken noodles, and signature dishes that start with Thai crispy fish.
704 Lantana Drive, Hockessin, 239-1800, asiankitchenhockessin.com
Known for: Authentic Chinese cuisine, including soup dumplings, the Shanghai specialty that chef Ding W. Lu added to the specials menu.
Insider tip: Takeout classics like orange chicken and Szechuan beef are well-executed, but regulars turn directly to the “Chef’s Authentic Dishes” on the menu’s back, where crispy whole fish is a favorite and the chicken with basil comes to the table sizzling. Ask owner Shuwa Chen to translate the daily specials, often written only in Chinese at the entrance. They frequently feature fresh Chinese vegetables.
721 College Square, Newark, 368-9933, bamboohouserestaurant.net
Known for: Thai food—no sushi, no moo shu—and friendly founder Tom Chotikaweckul, a Thai native, who opened the Union Street restaurant in 1988.
Insider tip: Develop patience. Food is prepared to order. Opt for the crispy duck with red curry or Thai basil sauce. The whole fish is almost always pompano. If you get the squid salad, order lots of Singha beer. Very spicy. Coconut ice cream is made onsite.
104 N. Union St., Wilmington, 654-8555, thebangkokhouse.weebly.com
Bangkok Thai Cuisine
Known for: Service with a smile from two sisters, owners Sopita Limphong and Pattareeya “Jang” Finger. “We try to serve our customers ourselves as much as we can,” Limphong says. “We want to hear what they like or don’t like, and we can advise new customers.”
Insider tip: The restaurant is best-known for drunken noodles, Thai fried rice and pad Thai, which Limphong says has “secret ingredients” that separate it from other versions. Also try the papaya salad, sticky rice with mango and “curry puffs,” a small pie packed with meat, curry and vegetables— similar to an empanada.
266 S. Dupont Hwy., Dover, 736-1606, thairestaurantindover.webs.com
Known for: Satisfying beachcombers’ cravings for crispy Peking duck and Hunan-style spicy dishes since 2004.
Insider tip: On Sunday, Peking duck is $19.95 for half, and $33.95 for whole. American favorites include General Tso’s chicken and shrimp, but why bother when there are dishes such as pan-seared salmon marinated in ginger, garlic, lemon and cilantro?
57 Wilmington Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 227-3848, confuciusrehobothbeach.com
The Crownery Chinese Restaurant
Known for: An early outpost of Chinese cuisine in Hockessin, this traditional spot resisted the pan-Asian trend of recent years.
Insider tip: It’s easy to wade into the “secret” Chinese menu, which can be found in English on the back of the takeout menu. Chinese patrons adore the crispy pork chop, pan-fried noodles and braised pork with salted dried cabbage.
228 Lantana Drive, Hockessin; 239-3825, thecrownery.com
The Cultured Pearl
Known for: Being the first to offer sushi by the sea.
Insider tip: Shrimp tempura, Korean BBQ and Thai green curry scallops are must-dos from the main menu. For sushi, try the “Cultured Combo,” tuna tartar and chirasi. Rob Wood, who owns the restaurant with wife Susan, recommends the age tofu appetizer.
301 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 227-8493, culturedpearl.us
Hibachi Japanese Steakhouse
Known for: Tossing food at your face. No kidding. Sit around the hibachi grill and the talented chef will flick a shrimp or two in your direction. The aim is usually good, but don’t wear an expensive shirt to dinner.
Insider tip: Frequent customers bypass the hibachi tables for a seat at the sushi bar. Multiple locations statewide.
Known for: Bringing sophisticated sushi to the Concord Pike corridor.
Insider tip: Whole fish, fried crisp and topped with mango sauce, isn’t on the menu, but it’s a big hit when it’s offered, says owner Tammy Wang. She’s revamping the menu, but the spicy tuna rocket appetizer and sunset sushi roll should make the change. Another suggestion: the Korean BBQ short rib taco.
3618 Concord Pike, Wilmington, 479-5618, jasminede.com
Kahl-Bee Korean Restaurant
Known for: An unassuming atmosphere with food that surprises, whether the kitchen cooks or the diners try their hand at the table grills.
Insider tip: Get a primer on Korean barbecue before you go in case there’s a language barrier. Expect to smell like grilled meat when you leave—that’s part of the, um, charm. Try the silken tofu soup, short ribs, scallion pancakes, pork belly, and the spicy pork and kimchee stir-fry. Don’t forget the ban chan (side dishes).
2011 Kirkwood Hwy., Wilmington, 998-4310
Kyoto Sushi Japanese Cuisine
Known for: Being the neighborhood sushi joint in Pike Creek, where creative rolls and impressive appetizer dishes are the main show.
Insider tip: Gyoza and shu mai dumplings are well-made, and grilled calamari is a showstopper. Don’t leave without sampling some of the more outrageous (and delicious) house specialty rolls, including the UFO roll.
4563 New Linden Hill Road, Wilmington, 368-9882, kyotojc.com
Le Shio Asian Fusion Cuisine
Known for: Hip on the strip, in this case Fairfax Shopping Center on Concord Pike, with a menu covering Japanese, Chinese and Eastern Asia.
Insider tip: With dishes like pumpkin soup and lobster bisque, Le Shio shakes up the usual fusion menu. Wok creations put you in control. Select a protein, choose up to four veggies and pick a sauce. Feeling adventurous? Leave the menu choices to the executive chef, who will prepare a five- or seven-course meal for the table.
2303 Concord Pike, Wilmington, 888-0145, leshio.com
Lily Thai Cuisine
Known for: Good genes. Chef-owner Lily Thamibutra worked at her sister’s restaurant, Seaside Thai, now closed. Some claim Lily Thai is an overlooked gem amongst the flashier Rehoboth restaurants.
Insider tip: Sure, they have pad Thai, but try the spicy catfish, spicy noodles or, if it’s available that night, the “golden pillows,” the Thai version of dumplings.
10 N. First St., Rehoboth Beach, 227-3348
Known for: Fresh, fresh fish. Sushi fanatics rate Okura as one of the region’s best, well worth a trip to the Pennsylvania border.
Insider tip: Ask about sushi specials. Depending on the week and time of year, you’ll find live scallops, toro (fatty tuna), uni shooters and baby octopus. The sake menu is extensive, from organics to unfiltered to fruity sake. Try a selection of five sakes for $9.
703 Ace Memorial Drive, Hockessin, 239-8486, okurara.us
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