To List the Impossible List: Orlando's 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 makes 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 goodies 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: Tamarind’s Indian goodness, Thai Purple Orchid’s well priced and authentic Thai goodness o 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.



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Not all of Winter Park's great restaurants are ensconced in tony digs. Many are hiding in plain sight. That's the case with Tamarind, where great South and North Indian cuisine surmounted the obstacles of strip-mall obscurity to become a local favorite. Open for lunch and dinner â€" it closes in between â€" regulars and those soon-to-be revel in the flavors and textures of tandoor meats, delicious masalas, chewy naan, massive dosas and a wide array of vegetarian selections for those who forgo the meat. Waits are not uncommon during peak evenings, but that's because Tamarind's following knows precisely what it's hanging around for. The Indian classics are done right.


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Mills 50


 

For authentic Chinese dine-in or delivery, you won't go wrong with Tasty Wok. A long standing favorite in Colonialtown North (the Mills 50 neighborhood is a hotbed of so many Vietnamese gems that other Asian delights are often under-reported) this unpretentious little restaurant is well known for its scallion pancakes, noodle soups, congee, roast duck and chow fun (a dish you don't all that often in the 407), all of which are served up in heaping portions for beyond-reasonable prices. A word to those looking for a plush, upscale venue to impress a date, future in-law or potential client: this ain't it.


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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.


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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 wish list; 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.


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West Orlando


 

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.


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Mills 50


 

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!


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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.


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Audubon Park


 

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 gloopywonderful cheesy bowl comprised, in part, of melted mozzarella, mayo, fresh roasted corn and Japanese spices.


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It's 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.


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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.


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Meet A.D. Thompson

Amy Drew has spent nearly three decades as a professional writer and roughly half her life as a Floridian. The words, she has found, come easier with bare feet and rum.

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