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Review of “A Taste of Asia” in Chatham- it’s up!

Chatham Patch


A Taste of Happy

The juxtaposition of unique flavors in A Taste of Asia’s culinary repertoire defines the Main Street restaurant.

By Monica Puri Bangia | Email the author | 5:00pm


A Taste of Asia on Main Street.
Beef rendang.
Chili chicken.
Daging istimewa (crispy pork shreds).
Crispy shrimp and crabmeat dumplings.Nasi goreng (fried rice).Jungle shrimp.Mongolian pork.
Your photos, videos & PDFs: 

Little things make me happy—for example, if I visit a good restaurant, with decent food and great service, I become extremely happy.  Well, I am a happy person  because I ate at A Taste of AsiaSaturday night.

We walked in and were met with happy smiles and a very tall gentleman, who we later discovered to be the owner. We had our choice of tables and I decided to pick one in the corner to be able to discretely take pictures of the food.

We opened our wine and beer and began looking at the extensive menu. Appetizers ranged from $4.50 to $8. The entrees were anywhere from $11 to $19.50. I somehow made my way through the long list and noticed a chili chicken option. I grew up eating it and therefore decided to try it.

We ordered two appetizers: Crispy shrimp & crabmeat dumplings (from the specials) and daging istimewa—crispy pork shreds tossed in sweet sesame vinaigrette sauce. The pork shreds were the clear favorite—they were crispy and fried, which made them a bit chewy, but in a good way. The sweet and sour sesame vinaigrette was delicious. The dumplings were good, as well, but didn’t stand out.

Our waiter was very friendly and helped us navigate through the menu. He even got us two different kinds of hot sauce. He described one as a “killer”and extremely spicy, and it truly was—I would not recommend it for the faint of heart.

The chili chicken didn’t live up to my expectations. I was expecting savory and spicy. This one was on the sweeter side with a thick gravy—it was good, but I was a bit disappointed. Mongolian pork was next. It featured shredded pork in a sweet, peppery sauce. The best part of the dish was the bed of watercress—the earthy flavor stood out very well against the pork. I fished out most of the greens for myself.

My two favorites were beef rendang and jungle shrimp. The beef was described on the menu as a traditional braised beef with hot Asian spices and coconut milk, and was the most complex and delicious dish on the table. The beef pieces were clearly cooked for a long time, and they melted in our mouths. The gravy was full of flavor, and was not spicy (we chose spice level four, which is the same as medium). The coconut flavor came through loud and clear. It was a very different dish—unlike one I have ever had. I would highly recommend it.

We were all fascinated by the beef and decided to ask the very friendly owner about it. He told us this dish is as authentic as you can get—about 20 different spices are included in this stew-like creation.

The jungle shrimp was the clear winner on the table. It was stir-fried in a sweet and peppery sauce with lemongrass soy. When I read the description, I was a bit confused as to what lemongrass soy actually is. Either way, it tasted really good, and so I came home and looked up lemongrass soy. A bunch of candle making recipes came up, and I am still a bit confused. I should have asked the owner about it. But the jumbo shrimp tasted delicious with chunks of green peppers.

One last thing we had was a vegetable nasi goreng—a typical Malaysian spiced fried rice. It was nicely spiced and tasty.

Believe it or not, we still had room for dessert. We ordered the jackfruit, hazelnut gelato and a plate of Malaysian style sweet croquettes. Coconut gave them great flavor and texture. They were served with a dollop of whipped cream topped with toasted coconut. The jackfruit was very interesting—it was the first time I tasted it. It looked like a sliced mango but was firmer in texture. It was sweet and different tasting and may be an acquired taste.

Overall, A Taste of Asia offered a great experience. The staff was very sweet and accommodating. We accidentally broke a water glass in the middle of dinner, and it was cleaned up promptly. The waiter assured us he experiences one broken glass every day.

I walked out a happy woman and plan to go back very soon.

Want more? Check back later this week to see Monica’s replication of the jungle shrimp, recipe included.


A Taste of Asia

245 Main St., Chatham


Hours of Operation: Lunch, Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 2:45 p.m.; Dinner, Tuesday through Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 4:30 to 9 p.m. Closed on Mondays.

BYO alcohol. Credit cards accepted.

February 2, 2010 Posted by | Monica Puri Bangia, My Family | , | 1 Comment