To List the Impossible List: Orlandos 10Best Asian
We don’t mean to be dramatic, but it really is that difficult. Orlando’s Asian offerings are many. Like, seriously – many. You could start perhaps, with Vietnamese – as one of the things that make the City Beautiful beautiful is its large Vietnamese population…which makes choosing a favorite Vietnamese joint a process in itself (note to editors: a 10Best Vietnamese list could be in order!) One such goodie on this list: Saigon Noodle, is well known and loved, but certainly not the only game in town for pho and beyond.
This list is Asian, though, which covers a vast swath of culinary goodness. Case in point: Sticky Rice’s sublime Laotian food (lemongrass sausage FTW!) or Mamak Asian Street Food’s mouthwatering menu of goodness, which starts with Malaysian, but runs its delicious tendrils into the likes of India, Korea and more. And speaking of Korean, the BBB Tofu House overflows with so many scrumptious and authentic soups and dishes (the soondubu is a house specialty) you’re definitely going to want to make numerous return trips.
Lots of restaurants say they’ve got a family vibe but the mother-daughter proprietresses at Thai Purple Orchid Cafe, a modest little gem in an aging Colonial Drive strip center, serve it up with just the right amount of eastern spice. Sonia (a UCF grad) and mom, Nisa (a former pharmacist) welcome all walks of customers â” UCF students and well beyond, who come for very reasonably priced and authentic fare in a clean, cute place that feels sort of like your friend’s mom’s kitchen. Which it sort of is, we suppose. A small attached grocery (about an aisle’s worth of foodstuffs) sells Thai staples. Feel free to ask questions about goods or dishes; staffers here are affable and the food is first-rate.
Recommended for Asian because: With a wonderfully friendly proprietress and a delightful price point, this one’s a must-try for fans of Thai.
A.D.’s expert tip: Exotic products are available for purchase at Purple Orchid’s small Thai grocery. Peruse while you wait for your food.
To be fair, Hawkers, as the name would indicate, is not merely Chinese, however, enough of its small-plate delicacies are that we feel okay about throwing it into the mix. The restaurant’s concept is simple: assemble an array of edibles one might see on an Asian-themed “No Reservations” best-of mash-up, put them together on one menu where prices range from about $3-8 apiece for tapas that make for ideal sharing. Some Chinese standouts include slow-cooked Cantonese beef stew or crispy cod and of course, potstickers are generally on everyone’s appetizer wishlist; Hawkers version features a chicken filling. Veggie lovers might enjoy the fresh steamed bok choy or, for something different, the Chinese kale (or yow choy) dressed in flavorful oyster sauce.
Recommended for Asian because: Korean, Malaysian and Thai – oh, my! You’ll find all that and more at Hawkers, where variety makes it a great choice for the indecisive.
A.D.’s expert tip: Orlando is LUCKY! Hawkers’ Windermere location is now serving BRUNCH! Check them out for delights like the HK Bubble Waffle and O.G. Asian Breakfast.
When post after post on social media reveals that, like you, a good number of the guests at Sticky Rice Lao Street Food tend to order more or less the entire menu every time they visit, it’s a safe bet you can classify the place as having good value. This hip-yet-family-friendly venue in Mills 50, which slings small plates, salads and a fragrant noodle soup called Kao Piek Sen has introduced quite a number of Orlandoans to the joys of Laotian street food, which is traditionally consumed with glutinous or “sticky” rice as an edible utensil. Its friendly staffers will be happy to explain how, with delicious results.
Recommended for Asian because: Chef Kevin and his staff are true ambassadors, introducing guests to new flavors, expanding palates, building community – with shrimp chips (and more)!
A.D.’s expert tip: The lemongrass pork sausages? Yes. Just yes.
The smells alone emanating from this Korean haven inside the 1st Oriental Supermarket are the stuff your sinuses’ dreams are made of. To lean one’s face into the steam above a bowl of the silkyspicywonderful soondubu? The culinary sauna you never knew you needed. That said, if bulgogi and bibimbap are the comforty-Korean cravings you most experience, BBB Tofu House can scratch this itch, as well. Pop in for succulent bites of garlic tofu or enjoy the marvel that is cheesy kimchi fried rice �” quite likely your next favorite for carb binges. Come. Sample, Savor. And make everyone with an eye on your Instagram food porn feed jealous.
Recommended for Asian because: Delicious Korean classics and an AYCE bargain make Korea House a solid choice.
A.D.’s expert tip: Got a cold? Run, don’t walk, for BBB Tofu House’s soothing, silky broth. The spicier the better, in our opinion!
Bao. Fun to say. Fun to eat. And at King Bao, a Mills 50 purveyor of this trendy, if ancient, Asian steamed bun delicacy, cheap. King Bao’s fluffy, doughy handhelds are beyond reasonable – $7 for a two-bao combo, $9 for three – and stuff loads of fatty, crunchy, crispy, creamy and a whole bunch of other adjectives into their tender buns. And we didn’t write that sentence just to use the phrase “tender buns.” Mostly. Try the Inner Harbor (Maryland-style crab cake, Old Bay mustard aioli and scallions) alongside the Glen Rhee (marinated Korean short rib, Asian pear salsa and cilantro). Glen Rhee, by the way, was actor Steven Yeun’s Korean character on “The Walking Dead.” Add a side of tots, exotic’d up with items like truffle oil, braised pork or vegan-friendly faux bacon or save room for a dessert bao. Good stuff here. Bao-wow!
Recommended for Asian because: Traditional (and now trendy) Asian staples served with modern flair and a free side of fun. Wallet-friendly to boot!
A.D.’s expert tip: Vegan? Yes, you can. Between the Fakenit Taters (with tofu bacon) and the Veganville bao (crispy tofu, shallot ginger & pepper relish), veg-heads can enjoy the spoils while their friends scarf down the pork belly.
Since Kai Asian Street Fare exploded onto Orlando’s dining scene, the fast-casual option has been winning over hearts and palates with an array of dishes curated from throughout Asia Favorites here include the crispy wings and garlicky garlic noodles, but fans of handhelds may really dig on taco options such as Thai chicken, crunchy cod or crispy/melty fried tofu. Looking for something super decadent? Consider their loaded fries options. The Gojira (love the kaiju nod!) gets bonito flakes, nori and spicy mayo but the over-the-top K-Pop & Lock is an Instagrammers’ delight, topped with bulgogi beef, kimchi and spicy mayo.
Recommended for Asian because: Simply put, Kai is delicious and fun. Specials abound and house favorites, like the Schezuan dry-rubbed wings, never disappoint.
A.D.’s expert tip: New at Kai: happy hour! An amazing selection of food (karaage chicken, curry with roti and more!) and bevs – Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings.
This restaurant, among several other Orlando eateries, gained nationwide notoriety when Guy Fieri paid a visit for his show, “Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives,” but folks in Orlando (occasionally referred to as Pholando for all the wonderful Vietnamese culinary options available) were already over-the-moon for Saigon Noodle’s amazing fare. A vast menu. featuring plenty of options for both vegans and those willing to consume all manner of animal parts, makes choosing difficult, but once you do, disappointment is virtually impossible. Noodle soups, rice dishes, family-style options, you name it – all authentic, all delicious.
Recommended for Asian because: This family-run Vietnamese venue is friendly to noobs needing advice on what to order off its extensive menu. Don’t be shy. Ask!
A.D.’s expert tip: So hard to even pick something to recommend, but on a cool day, wonton soup with clear noodles is a no-lose proposition. There’s also lots to see (and eat!) in the Milk District neighborhood. Plan accordingly.
There’s a word we want to use about Domu’s phenomenal curry ramen (the other varieties are palate stunners, as well) but we’re not sure how to spell that noise Homer Simpson makes when he is particularly food-enthralled. Ramen, the bowls are definitely shareable, and and an array of beautifully plated pan-Asian offerings are what all the fuss is about at Domu, and the fare is definitely fuss-worthy. You can level-up your bowl with adds on including fried chicken thighs and braised pork belly, or skip the soup and go for some crispy wings or the “cheezus,” a gloopy-wonderful cheesy bowl comprised, in part, of melted mozzarella, mayo, fresh roasted corn and Japanese spices.
Recommended for Asian because: Silky tonkatsu, fiery curry and crispy Korean wings are just a few reasons to head Domu’s way.
A.D.’s expert tip: Heatseekers who’d rather not do curry might consider the spicy tonkotsu ramen as their steamy (and fiery) bowl of choice.
Its air-conditioned confines may be miles away from the sultry Southeast Asian climes in which one would enjoy the layered flavors of the Malaysian food stalls for which it is named, but Mamak Asian Street Food’s plates, small and large, are an exotic journey without the plane fare. From the familiar (spring rolls, street tacos) to items the less adventurous might deem out-there (fish balls, curry gravies) its menu culls from various Asian nations creating a mix of flavors that beg to be sampled. A central location in Mills 50 makes exploration of the neighborhood a pleasant to-do, pre-dinner or post-lunch.
Recommended for Asian because: Airy, modern digs, lots of variety and truly exceptional food make Mamak a worthy choice for your disposable dining dollars.
A.D.’s expert tip: Can’t find on-street parking? Circle around to an ample lot in back.
Sophisticated, spicy and authentic are words you’ll often hear associated with Chuan Lu Yuan, a Mills 50-outpost so popular it can keep its doors open ’til 2 a.m! We’d add colorful, flavorful, aromatic and delicious, though it’s likely all been said before. Chuan Lu Yuan serves Szechuan dishes, many of which will seem delightfully new to folks more accustomed to Americanized Chinese fare. Hot pots, hand-pulled noodle soups, an array of dishes for the adventurous culinary explorer. While there are options available for those less interested in straying outside their comfort zones, we recommend you bring several bold dining companions (more people = more dishes to sample!), ask lots of questions and taste, taste, taste.
Recommended for Asian because: Like your chicken (and everything else) spicy? Chuan Lu Yuan’s Sichuan will test your mettle with its authenticity.
A.D.’s expert tip: New at the Mills 50 location: soup dumplings! Slurp ’em while they’re hot (with caution, of course).