I'm not sure what it is about Asian food, but I LOVE it. My brother has the addiction too, so we usually go out to lunch weekly. Over time I have became quite the connoisseur of Asian restaurants around the Grand Rapids area. Here is a collection of some of my most notable places.
Shanghai Ichiban- Atmosphere is the name of the game here. Beautiful decor, sculptures, and even an indoor Koi pond welcome you. The restaurant is divided into two areas, one is Japanese hibachi and the other is Chinese. The Chinese side is a typical nice restaurant experience. The Japanese hibachi is where this place shines. The chefs cook the food in front of you and perform various tricks with cooking utensils, fire, napkins, etc. It's entertaining and the food is delicious. Hibachi is a bit more expensive, but totally worth the experience.
Seoul Garden- This is another classy joint. The food is typical, but good, and the atmosphere is very nice. It has a modern feel with clean-lined architecture and neon lights. The sushi is excellent.
Chinatown- I imagine 20 years ago, this place might have been nice. The interior decor feels run down now. This place does have fantastic food though. Over the last few years I gotten takeout here and there. My favorites from Chinatown are the moo shu beef and general tso's chicken. Recently, the place was closed for a few months and now the marquee says "new management." I called to get take-out. They said they are still closed for remodeling, but plan to be open in two weeks. That's funny, about six months ago they said the same thing and I'm pretty sure they've been closed this whole time. Will it ever reopen?
Golden Gate- This is my favorite hole-the-wall place. The exterior reveals faded, peeling paint, and a color scheme decades old. The interior feels like the setting of an 80's wedding. They have a buffet or you can order from the menu. Normally Chinese buffets are not very good, but this one is the exception. The scale is small which allows them to keep stuff more fresh. My dish of choice here is shrimp w/ vegetables or cashew chicken. The owner is there everyday and knows her customers by name. It is a quirky and great place to have lunch or dinner.
Mandarin- The buffet would be good except unfortunately it is often cold. The real reason to go here is their sushi. It is a buffet that actually has good sushi. If you are feeling like sushi in large quantities for cheap and don't mind a limited selection, this is the place to go. Word on the street is this place is owned by the same people who ran Abacus in Wyoming (closed a few years ago).
XO- The restaurant has a nice atmosphere and is located downtown on Monroe Center. I usually only come here for sushi. Half-off Tuesdays is an incredible deal.
Little Bangkok- Great atmosphere and awesome Thai food. Small family run business in the Cascade area.
Bangkok Taste- Small restaurant in a strip mall in Jenison. Very nondescript joint, but good Thai food.
Those are my most notable Asian restaurants in the Grand Rapids area. What are yours? I am always looking for more great places to visit. Just for reference, here are all the other restaurants I have eaten at that didn't make my list- Great Lakes Chinese Restaurant, China Buffet, New China, Asian Garden, Stir Fry Express, China One, Magic Wan, Empire Buffet, Ming Ten, Oriental Forest, Tea Garden, Sweetie Thai, Bangkok View, Chicken 'N' Eggroll, Maru.
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