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ArirangGarden AsianWind BangkokHouse HanWooRi KPot Koreana MaiThai MongolianGrill PhoBC PhoSaigon PlanetThai
We have separate categories for Chinese, Japanese and Indian restaurants, so Asian covers all the rest. But Asian takes in a lot of territory : Mongolian, Thai, Vietnamese, Korean and Malaysian. This is a fascinating, wild, varied and lively cuisine. You have to be careful with these menus. When they mark an item with a star or asterisk for extra hot or spicy, they're serious. If you're not experienced with their cooking, you should err on the side of caution. They have their share of exotic foods : tongue, squid, tripe, iced black coffee with chilled milk, avocado shakes, lemon grass, peanut sauces, fried wonton skin, bamboo shoots, hot basil, and a generous use of curry and ginger. Some of these restaurants have a very traditional look, with lots of space and an extensive menu. Some are tiny, in remodeled fast food outlets, with only a dozen tables and a one page menu. But they're all worth a visit, and several have generated their own passionate following, who frequent them for lunches or weekend dinners. Asian restaurants are not nearly as expensive as some of their rivals in other cuisines. One of their distinguishing characteristics is the main course plus an array of side dishes, usually six but sometimes seven or five, depending on nationality. At the bigger and better Asian restaurants, artistic presentation will be very important, but the smaller establishments don't have the table space for it. However, color and arrangement are always considered. Asian food is probably the world's most photogenic.
Arirang Garden sits a block back from Richmond Road, next to Burke's Furniture, in a modest biege brick building. This Korean eatery is full of surprises, a Disney World for your taste buds. On a first visit you might try the buffet. It allows you to sample a wide range of Arirang's offering. On a later visit, you can order off the menu. Of the Appetizers, we love their Kimchee Pancakes, and really enjoy the Potstickers, Rice Cakes, Korean Sushi and Seafood Pancake. Some Soups and Stews are spicy while others are mild, but they're all rich with flavor. There's Kimchee Stew, Yook Gye Jang (thin sliced beef, vegetables, and egg in a broth over noodles), Kalbee Tang (beef rib, onion and egg soup over noodles), Hae Mool Tang (mussels, shrimp, squid, clams, crab and vegetables) and three kinds of Seafood Stew. Entrees are Squid, Shrimp, Vegetables, Pork and Chicken. The HotPot For Two includes thinly sliced beef, shrimp, mushrooms and noodles in a mild broth. If you order "Just For The Grill," they'll prepare your meal at your table right in front of you. We're struck by the Yin & Yang of Korean food; they hit you with spicy and mild, hot and cold, light and heavy, sweet and sour, salty and acidic, all on the same plate. We also love Korean vegetables: Pickled Radish Discs, Spiced Garlic Scapes, Mung Beans, etc. You could drink a glass of Plum Wine or Korean Beer, but the adventurous will try Sake (rice wine). Just be aware it's potent : Sake is 20% alcohol. arirang
asian wind

Asian Wind opened in 1995 so is second to Planet Thai in longevity among Asian eateries. It is basically a Chinese restaurant with Thai, Vietnam and Malaysian dishes added. Asian Wind is a favorite among local vegetarians, who consider its menu the second best in town, behind only Alfalfa's. But one of its most famous ingredients is George's Hot Pepper Sauce, which is used mostly on meats. Another Asian Wind characteristic which has endeared it to local food purists is its refusal to use Monosodium Glutamate, which clogs so much Chinese cooking along with American arteries. Of the Chinese stops in Lexington, Asian Wind is the low cholesterol, low sodium alternative. House specialties include stir fried duck, sesame chicken, and por lo mein. 3735 Palomar Centre Drive. 223-0060. At the corner of Harrodsburg Road and Man O War Boulevard. As you drive out Harrodsburg Road from downtown, watch for Wellington Way coming in from your left. Turn right on Wellington Way and it will take you into Palomar Centre.

Bangkok House is the only Thai restaurant within walking distance of UK. It's downstairs at the corner of Euclid and Rose. The decor is basic and service can be spotty, but this is very good Thai food. If you're not a Thai conneisseur, be forewarned that when the waiter asks for your preference, state Mild. That said, of the Appetizers, we highly recommend the Egg, Vegetarian and Spring Rolls, the Pot Stickers, and the Fried Squid. We're not big fans of their Salads, but we do love their Soups, especially the Tom Yum (Lemon Grass). The Pad Thai here has its own cult following. The Entrees give you a choice of Chicken, Pork, Beef, Tofu, Shrimp, Squid, Duck or Fish. To that you then add Noodles, Curries, Rice, Basil, Cashews, Chili, Peppers, Onions, Garlic, Ginger, Bean Sprouts, Eggplant or Pineapple. Within this, there are seven Noodle choices, 10 Curry choices and six Rice choices. If you're a beer drinker, Bangkok House offers the usual, plus Thai favorite pale lagers Singha, Kirin and Chang.

Bangkok House
Han Woo Ri Han Woo Ri is UK's Korean restaurant. It's tiny, occupying half of the first floor of the Sqecial Media Building between McDonalds and Jimmy Johns on South Limestone. But the decor is sleek, modern and well lighted, and the food is authentic and very good. They offer some incredible Appetizers. Their Jalapeno Bomb (fried jalapenos stuffed with crabmeat, cream cheese and special sauces) and Seaweed Salad are two of Lexington's greatest items. They offer a whole page of Rolls : the California, Spicy Tuna, Veggie, Cucumber, and Avocado, and then special versions like the Shrimp Tempura Roll, 007, Mexican, Dragon, Giant Crunch and Crazy Boy. Among the Entrees, we particularly like their Mandoo (steamed dumplings stuffed with vegetables, pork and kimchi), Bulgogi (thin slices of beef marinated with soy sauce, sesame oil and spices), Pajun (pancake stuffed with seafood, garlic and green onions), and Hae Mool Udong (hot soup with noodles, chicken, shrimp, scallops, squid and vegetables). The Hae Mool Udong is a feast in itself. They give you a large bowl and it's very filling. The Bulgogi is Korean BBQ and is delicious. The Dol Sot Bibimbap is a hot stone bowl filled with vegetables, rice, meat and an egg.

Right across the street, at the corner of Limestone and Euclid Avenue ("Avenue of Champions"), HanWooRi operates a second location. This one caters to the six dorms on the block, and is set up mainly for pickup and takeout.

So if you want a warm, intimate place for a traditional sit down meal, you can go to the original location. But if you're in a hurry and just want to satisfy your need for Korean food, you can stop by the corner.

It does have several tables inside. It's a new, sleek, spacious, brightly lighted spot with views of students and traffic moving through the busy intersection. It's particularly busy during the noon hour with students and faculty dashing in for quick lunches.

KPot is a unique concept, a modern Asian twist on All-You-Can-Ea restaurants. A group of diners is seated at a table with a hot pot in the middle. Each diner pays $30 for dinner, or $20 for lunch. They order various meats, seafoods, vegetables, mushrooms and seasonings from a menu, put them in boiling water, and create their own soup. They each have a bowl and plate. They serve themselves either the individual items after they've cooked, or they ladle out bowls of the broth created from all those items. Periodically, waiters bring more hot water. KPot is a national chain just now reaching Lexington. This is a large facility in a new mall at 2860 Richmond Road. It has room for a huge number of diners plus a bar. It contains party spaces and has large screen TVs. Music plays through speakers. It's a very festive atmosphere. You might want to come early, before 6 pm, to guarantee a table without a long wait. The KPot concept includes some interesting quirks. There's a two hour limit on each table, so you can't dawdle. You'll be billed extra for food wasted. And part of your challenge will be to decide what to order, because the menu is extensive.

Koreana is run by two of the most experienced restauranteurs in Lexington. Husband Dae has been a chef in both Korea and New York City, while wife Yong has worked the business side at several restaurants, including 14 years at Nagasaki Inn. Koreana emphasizes freshness. All its ingredients are fresh daily : meats and vegetables from local outlets and Korean items from New York. Korean cuisine differs from its Asian neighbors in that each main dinner item comes with six sides, usually served in separate small bowls. The star of the show is Kimchi, a spicy, pickled vegetable mix. But there will also be a radish salad, bean sprout salad, and three others according to what's available and what you choose from the menu. The seafood soup is a meal in itself, with everything from octopus to sea urchin. The Lees have Americanized their cooking so it is not terribly spicy, but certain items are marked, and if you want heat, you can get it. 2360 Woodhill Drive. 268-8781. From downtown, go out Richmond Road, turn North onto New Circle Road, stay in the right hand lane, take the very first right turn, and turn right again into Woodhill Plaza. Koreana is on the left "L" of the plaza. korerana
Mai Thai is a taste of Thailand heavy on seafood. Appetizers include the usual egg rolls, shrimp and squid items, but we prefer their 11 soups, particularly the Kao Lao (beef soup with meat balls and bean sprouts), Chicken Bamboo (which also includes mushrooms and onions), and Tom Yum (lime juice, shrimp, squid, mussels and scallops in lemon grass). They offer five salads, three with squid, shrimp and mixed seafood. Eight noodle entrees give you a choice of wide, narrow, clear, and fried, with peanuts, bean sprouts, broccoli, mushrooms, basil, and your choice of meats. Of seven curry entrees, we like the Red Sea (coconut milk, snow peas, basil, squid, shrimp and mussels). Eighteen stir fried items satisfy just about any taste, but the 15 specials are what the kitchen takes the most pride in. We like the Ginger Fish, Eggplant Squid, and Asparagus Shrimp. Mai Thai is in a remodelled house on Southland Drive next to the Oleika Temple.
Mongolian Grill is quite a show. It claims to honor Mongolian national hero Genghis Khan. Khan and his men turned their shields over their campfires each night and heated dinner on them during their invasion of China. A thousand years later, you walk around various cafeteria tables, picking meats, seafoods, veggies, sauces and other items. You hand them to a griller, who spreads them on a hot steel shield and turns them with giant metal tongs. The grillers continuously chant a Mongolian war song, the wallpaper has an Asian warrior theme, and a soundtrack echoes hoofbeats, war cries and drums. However, behind all this theatre, there's some serious food lurking. You can pile your shield high with tuna, shrimp, calamari, steak, and whatever else you want. Khan and his men probably did not enjoy the soups, desserts or Starbucks coffee available to you, but it does enhance the dining experience. mongolian grill
pho bc

Pho BC is the city's newest Vietnamese restaurant. The Vietnamese mix vegetables and meats with noodles and cook them as a soup so you eat the entire meal from a bowl. Their word for this noodle based soup is Pho, thus the name for this restaurant. Rather than much smaller soup bowls, their bowls are what Americans call Mixing Bowls, so when you order a Large you'd better be hungry. Many people will be satisfied with a Small. With no seasoning, Vietnamese cooking is flavorful but bland. They offer you options on heat and at your table are various seasonings. If you're big into egg rolls, you'll love these. If you're not going to order one of the main course soups, the appetizer Crab Asparagus Soup is outstanding, and the Egg Flower Soup is a tempting alternative. However, the real soups are the big main courses. Of those, we like Seafood Soup, but Steak Soup, Vegetarian Soup, Meatball Soup, Brisket & Flank Soup, Pork Soup and Spicy Beef Soup are delicious. If you really don't like soup, try the Vietnamese Pancake, Fried Squid, or Curried Chicken. Even beverages are an adventure here. We love the Coconut Milk, Litchi, and Soy Bean Juice, and several of our members enjoy the Hot Milk Coffee, sort of an Asian Cappucino. 176 West Lowry Lane. From downtown, go South on Upper / Limestone / Nicholasville Road, turn right on Lowry and look for PhoBC on the right.

Pho Saigon is basically a Vietnamese soup restaurant, and is absolutely a must stop if you like Asian food. It's in the shopping strip facing New Circle Road, across from the Chrysler dealership. The interior is spacious, unlike most strip mall outlets. The Appetizer list takes up a whole page, It includes various rolls (Egg, Veggie, Spring, Chicken, Pork), Seaweed Salad, a Vietnamese Pancake, Kebabs and Wings. All the Soups come with a side tray of Bean Sprouts, Lime, jalapeno, Green Onion, Basil and Cilantro. The actual Soup list takes up two whole pages. All versions are Noodle soups but there are different kinds of noodles. There's noodle soup with Chicken, with Beef, with Steak, with Shrimp, with Tofu, with Seafood, with Vegetables, etc. A list of Beef Stews, a list of Hot Pots (Chicken Hot Pot, Beef Hot Pot, Seafood Hot Put, etc.) , and a list of Charbroiled entrees rounds out the evening's entertainment. 12 versions of Vietnamese Bun, which consists of Vermiculli rice noodles (Rice Vermicelli with charbroiled pork) take up all of a menu page. Beverages include soybean milk, cocconut milk, imported beer (Saigon '33), smoothies and bubble milk tea. Save room for the Three Color, the famous dessert which includes Bean Pudding, Green Jelly and Coconut Milk. pho saigon
planet thai Planet Thai opened in 1985. That's not so long ago, but it's the grandaddy of local Asian restaurants. The facility, on the corner of Nicholasville Road and Dennis Drive, consists of one large dining room with a saltwater aquarium in the middle. Its menu would take a year to sample thoroughly. It offers 90 dinner items plus 11 appetizers, a beverage list and desserts. With each entree you have a choice of meats, side dishes, and degree of heat. The menu opens with a dozen Appetizers, goes on to Soups and Salads, and is then divided into Curried Dishes, Noodles, Rices, General Entrees and House Specialties. If you're a big seafood lover, you'll be in Heaven, with all the Squid, Shrimp, Mussells and Scallops worked into the appetizers, soups, and main items. But there are many vegetarian dishes. 2417 Nicholasville Road. 373-8269. Planet Thai is a quarter of a mile inside New Circle Road, or a mile downtown from Fayette Mall.
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