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My Favorite Asian Things (in the Monmouth Co area)

seal May 17, 2007 11:17 AM

I decided to put together s little "best of" list for my central nj / jersey shore roamings and I am starting with Asian cuisine.

West Lake Seafood - Wonton Soup, Beef, Black Mushroom and Chinese Sausage Casserole, Any Salt and Chili dish, any Whole Fish dish.
Chinese Food Mart (Crown Palace adjacent in Middletown) Chinese BBQ, esp the boneless pork and the duck.

Pad Thai - Chinese Sausage Fried Rice, Jumbo Shrimp and Avocado in Curry, any Garlic Sauce dish, Laab, and most things I've eaten have been as good as anywhere.
Thai Chili - Papaya Salad, Tom Kha Gai, any Tamarind Sauce dish.

Far East Taste - In my long association with this place, I have never had a bad dish. The Whole Fish dishes are sometimes the best.

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  1. bgut1 RE: seal May 17, 2007 11:34 AM

    Seal - Nice summary. Thanks. What about Shanghai Bun for the Spicy Beef Noodle Soup and Pork Buns?

    1. Deb Van D RE: seal May 17, 2007 11:52 AM

      This seems sort of pale after your list, but:

      Crowne Palace in Middletown, in the market, not the restaurant -- they sell a firm, spicy tofu in the refrig section, first aisle. I don't know what it's called, firm, spicy tofu probably, but I love it a lot. Kind of cut into long strings, like spaghetti, it is an addictive snack. Nice and zippy.

      1. val ann c RE: seal May 17, 2007 05:24 PM

        That's a good list.

        Far East Taste: Yes to the whole fish. I also like the dishes made with pieces of boneless fish filet -- with basil sauce or tracy sauce. I always get Tom Yam Vegetable Bean curd soup.

        Ditto on West Lake. I need to go back and try more dishes.

        Shanghai Bun. Soups with their homemade noodles -- noodles with pork and pickled radish, or pork and sour cabbage, Shanghai won ton soup. I like the steamed pork buns. Please note: The soups are better when they are not crowded. Best time is weekday lunch.

        Here's wild card... There's a Chinese restaurant in the bowling alley on Rt 35 in Middletown. Harmony Lanes on Rt 35 northbound between Harmony Rd and Cherry Tree Farm Rd. The Taiwan menu in the cocktail lounge has lots of interesting stuff. I've been pleased with the food. It's not on the level of West Lake, but it's good. They serve a whole fish, but I haven't tried it yet. (Be careful not to order lo mein or any americanized dishes. They are mediocre.)

        I really like Kyoto Sushi on Rt 36 in Atlantic Highlands. Their sushi bar is markedly better than Sono in Middletown. (I like Sono, but Kyoto's sushi is better.)
        But beware... at Kyoto anything that doesn't come from the sushi chef has proven to be lackluster. that includes soup, salad, tempura, oshinko. But their sushi and sashimi more than make up for it! (Thanks to the chowhound who recommended this place!)

        9 Replies
        1. re: val ann c
          Herm RE: val ann c May 17, 2007 11:22 PM

          Far East Taste - Chile Pork, It's not on the menu. It's one of Chef Richard's = Excellent
          The Market next to Crown Palace - Pork Buns from the Bakery section, the Curry Beef Buns are pretty good too. Spicy Beef Noodle Soup at Shanghai Bun, and of course my new fave Salt & Pepper Seafood from Westlake.

          1. re: Herm
            joonjoon RE: Herm May 21, 2007 09:18 PM

            I really love almost every pork dish at far east taste. :) And of course, can't go wrong with the fish.

            And once again, it's not exactly spectacular, but if you're in the mood for a noodle soup, there's a place in Eatontown on hope road that serves noodle bowl soups.

            1. re: joonjoon
              fershore RE: joonjoon Jun 7, 2007 07:52 AM

              Could you be more specific about the noodle soup place? Closest intersection? What's nearby? I love noodle soups.

              1. re: fershore
                joonjoon RE: fershore Jun 8, 2007 11:24 AM

                Hi fershore,

                Kwong Fong (aka Kwong Fat) is at 613 Hope Rd. in Eatontown. It's right by Rt. 36. Here it is on Google maps: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=l&h...

                1. re: joonjoon
                  tom porc RE: joonjoon Jun 10, 2007 01:25 AM

                  It's in the same shopping center as Redheads.

          2. re: val ann c
            joonjoon RE: val ann c May 21, 2007 09:14 PM

            Val - is the Chinese restaurant IN the bowling alley? I don't think I've ever seen a Chinese restaurant on that street...

            1. re: joonjoon
              val ann c RE: joonjoon May 22, 2007 12:54 PM

              The restaurant is in the same building as the bowling alley. The same kitchen serves the bowlers' snack bar and a cocktail lounge. The cocktail lounge has a Taiwan menu.

            2. re: val ann c
              wench31 RE: val ann c Jun 28, 2007 12:35 PM

              Hi Val Ann C, thank you so much for recommending the Taiwanese place inside Harmony Lanes. For years, I've driven past it and wondered how is the food in there but afraid to try it because I thought it was Americanized Chinese food. After your recommendation, I finally gathered the guts to try it today and it was great!

              The food is almost similar to that of Shanghai Bun but a little different. They don't have dumplings, though.
              I went to China Palace during lunch time, so they had all these noodles available. I have to try it for dinner one day. Do you know what time they close on weekends? I tried going one Sunday for lunch a while ago and it turned out they weren't to open until 4 that afternoon. I plan to go there for dinner again soon. I even got their dinner menu. Thanks again for discovering this place and recommending it!

              1. re: wench31
                val ann c RE: wench31 Jun 28, 2007 01:30 PM

                Glad to hear you liked China Palace. One would never guess there is worthy Taiwanese food at a bowling alley. Sorry, I don't know their hours. Will check on that next time I go.

            3. j
              joonjoon RE: seal May 21, 2007 09:16 PM

              They don't exactly have awesome Korean food, but I like Fune when I'm really craving something korean and don't feel like making the trek. Try their Hwe Dup Bap (sort of like Korean chirashi). Sushi's not bad either.

              18 Replies
              1. re: joonjoon
                wench31 RE: joonjoon May 22, 2007 04:38 PM

                joon joon, where is Fune? Also what is the name of the noodle place in Eatontown. My daughter loves noodle bowl soups!

                1. re: wench31
                  bgut1 RE: wench31 May 22, 2007 07:44 PM

                  Fune (which I always thought was Fume) is located in the Cobblestone Village on West Park Avenue in Ocean Township. Its in the same shopping center as Piccola Italia.

                  1. re: wench31
                    joonjoon RE: wench31 May 31, 2007 11:10 AM

                    Hi Wench,

                    It's not really a "noodle place" - more like a hole in the wall chinese joint that also serves noodle soups.

                    It's called Kwong Fong and their address is 613 Hope Rd. in Eatontown, across from Applebees.

                    Disclaimer: There's is absolutely nothing special about their noodle soups - I just felt it was worthy of a mention since it's the only place I know of where you can get noodle bowl soups within a 30 minute radius here. Same goes for Fune.

                    By the way, in my experience Fune has some of the finest service for a restaurant of its type in the area, and even if you go for just sushi they'll give you a lot of extra goodies like korean banchan..

                    1. re: joonjoon
                      bgut1 RE: joonjoon May 31, 2007 12:22 PM

                      joonjoon - I'm somewhat surprised by your comments on Fune. I live really close by and I am routinely in that shopping center for various takeout (less likely now that it looks as if Magic Rice was sold). The few times I bought sushi from them, I was not impressed with the service from the counter (nor the quality of the sushi for that matter). However, I'm always on the lookout for decent Korean food so I'll try and give them a shot with their sit down service.

                      1. re: bgut1
                        joonjoon RE: bgut1 May 31, 2007 12:26 PM

                        Hi Bgut - I realized right after I posted that I may be biased since I'm Korean and they may be giving me the special Korean service..

                        But try their Hwe Dup Bap. It's a real treat when you live in Eatontown. :)

                        1. re: joonjoon
                          seal RE: joonjoon May 31, 2007 12:37 PM

                          If you notice on my original post, there are no Japanese or Korean places listed. I know I am picky, but I just will not eat at any of the local sushi places and afaik there are no Korean choices at all.

                          1. re: seal
                            bgut1 RE: seal May 31, 2007 02:31 PM

                            Seal - I think there are several sushi establishments in Monmouth County that make very acceptable sushi. Far from the best that I have ever had but very passable especially when the craving hits. As far as Korean is concerned, as joonjoon noted Fune (and its predecessor) serves Korean although I believe they are primarily a Japanese restaurant. If joonjoon says the food is good I will have to defer to him. However, I will give it a try myself and give you my honest opinion. :)

                            1. re: bgut1
                              joonjoon RE: bgut1 Jun 1, 2007 11:44 AM

                              I think bgut1 said it best - in Monmouth I'm not looking for awesome, but something "passable especially when the craving hits."

                              The restaurants I mentioned (Fune and Kwong Fong) aren't going to wow anybody - and depending on what you order you might even be disappointed. But when you're in the mood for something specific and you don't feel like driving 40 minutes...it's all we got. Sad but true.

                              1. re: joonjoon
                                bgut1 RE: joonjoon Jun 1, 2007 12:51 PM

                                Better than nothing at all .......

                                1. re: bgut1
                                  RGR RE: bgut1 Jun 1, 2007 01:13 PM

                                  So, bgut1, what happened to the belief you stated on another thread that life is too short to eat mediocre food? lol (Which, as I said there, I happen to agree with.)

                                  1. re: RGR
                                    bgut1 RE: RGR Jun 1, 2007 01:35 PM

                                    Wow RGR ... Good pick up!!! :) I don't normally get caught talking out both sides of my mouth. Let me clarify my earlier statement. Life is too short to eat mediocre food ..... unless you have a really bad craving for [insert type of food here] and are too lazy to drive 40 minutes away to a quality restaurant. ........ ;)

                                    1. re: bgut1
                                      RGR RE: bgut1 Jun 1, 2007 02:20 PM

                                      Hey, bgut1, I was hoping you could tell I was just having some fun with you. But that addendum is perfect! :-)

                      2. re: joonjoon
                        Barbarella RE: joonjoon Jun 1, 2007 12:57 PM

                        I believe the place you are referring to is called Kwong Fat.

                        1. re: Barbarella
                          FoodDude2 RE: Barbarella Jun 1, 2007 01:54 PM

                          How do people feel about the noodle soup places inside the "Hong Kong Supermarket on Park Avenue in South Plainfield."

                          1. re: FoodDude2
                            bgut1 RE: FoodDude2 Jun 1, 2007 02:27 PM

                            Obviously outside of Monmouth County. See my comment above re: mediocre food and 40 minute drives. :) Really though, while I'm sure its authentic and good I have never tried it. Sorry.

                          2. re: Barbarella
                            joonjoon RE: Barbarella Jun 1, 2007 02:19 PM

                            Same place Barbarella - Kwong Fat has changed names to Kwong Fong. I like the old name better...but oh well!

                            1. re: joonjoon
                              fershore RE: joonjoon Jun 7, 2007 07:54 AM

                              I stopped going to Kwong Fat/Fong years ago because it became a grease-fest. Has it gotten better?

                              1. re: fershore
                                joonjoon RE: fershore Jun 8, 2007 11:25 AM

                                Hmm...I've only been going to KFat for a couple years now I think. Aren't most chinese restaurants grease fests? :D

                    2. a
                      alielle RE: seal Jun 6, 2007 06:35 PM

                      Don't forget Saigon II. It's not the best Vietnamese place I've been to, but it does satisfy a craving unless I want to take a long drive. The food used to be pretty bad, but has gotten better after the renovation.

                      The Taiwanese place in the bowling alley is also one of my favorites. I can tell you for certain that their dishes are authentic Taiwanese dishes. Some things on the menu are not in Chinese restaurants like the steamed meat bun thing (not sure what it's called on the menu). It is flat, and has a rice flour outside. It can be steamed or fried and has bamboo, meat, mushrooms, etc. inside. Usually served with a hot and sweet sauce. There is also a gooey noodle soup with oysters.

                      11 Replies
                      1. re: alielle
                        wench31 RE: alielle Jun 6, 2007 06:42 PM

                        After hearing so much about the Taiwanese place in the bowling alley, I am going to give it a try. I've always wanted to go in there but was afraid because I was worried the food wouldn't be authentic. How's the bowling by the way? :)

                        1. re: alielle
                          val ann c RE: alielle Jun 7, 2007 06:55 AM

                          I agree with your words on Saigon II in Lincroft. It's not great, but it's just fine if you don't want to travel far. I usually get the pho with sliced steak. It nicely satisfies the craving for pho. I wish they provided lime wedges instead of lemon.
                          The improved decor is nice.

                          The bowling alley Taiwanese place serves their own version of pho. I have not tried it yet.

                          1. re: val ann c
                            joonjoon RE: val ann c Jun 8, 2007 11:26 AM

                            I loved Saigon II but stopped going there after a bad experience. Maybe it's time to give em another chance..? I miss local pho.

                            1. re: joonjoon
                              val ann c RE: joonjoon Jun 8, 2007 11:53 AM

                              Saigon II: The owner is the same, the place was recently redecorated. The menu is somewhat different -- fewer items, slightly higher prices. The prices are moderate.

                              We stopped going for a few years, due to a drop in quality. Based on two recent visits, quality seems to have improved. The pho is just good enough to keep me from driving all the way to Edison. :-)

                              1. re: val ann c
                                RGR RE: val ann c Jun 8, 2007 12:50 PM

                                As you may recall, we tried Saigon II once several years ago, and I thought the food was awful. You say there has not been a change in ownership, but the food has improved? The only way, in my view, that could happen is if there's a new chef. I've always presumed it was a chef/owner operation. Of course, I could be wrong, or maybe he spent the time off while they redecorated taking some cooking classes....? But, as the King of Siam in the person of Yul Brynner said, "'Tis a puzzlement!"

                                1. re: RGR
                                  FoodDude2 RE: RGR Jun 8, 2007 02:30 PM

                                  Even though I live in Marlboro, the Pho in Edison on Rt 1 makes the 25 min drive worth every second.

                                  1. re: FoodDude2
                                    val ann c RE: FoodDude2 Jun 8, 2007 03:45 PM

                                    I assume you are referring to Pho Anh Dao in Edison. Last time I was there, all the food was great -- very much better than Saigon II. I go to Saigon II because it's convenient and the only Vietnamese in our area. The food is good enough if you want to stay local.

                                    RGR -- I don't know if the chef is new. I think the food is better now than it was a few years ago. Not different recipes, just better prepared.

                                    1. re: val ann c
                                      RGR RE: val ann c Jun 9, 2007 03:29 PM

                                      Hmmm... I'd prefer to drive 25 minutes to Edison if the food's so much better. Where exactly on Route 1 is Pho Anh Dao?

                                      1. re: RGR
                                        aacharya RE: RGR Jun 11, 2007 07:50 AM

                                        A good place closer to us, but technically in Middlesex County (South Amboy) is the old Taste of Vietnam on Route 9 south near the McDonald's and Bourbon Streeet. Excellent pho, and the best squid I've ever had.

                                        The new name escapes me, though.

                                        From my house in Aberdeen, it's less than 15 minutes.

                                      2. re: val ann c
                                        heathergt RE: val ann c Jun 10, 2007 04:30 AM

                                        There's a new boutique type Vietnamese in Sea Bright, has anyone tried it? The menu looks good. I am blanking on the name right now.

                                        1. re: heathergt
                                          fershore RE: heathergt Jun 13, 2007 03:19 PM

                                          It's called The Palm. Sadly, it's getting negative reviews at this thread:


                                          I may try it anyway...

                          2. j
                            jsfein RE: seal Jun 11, 2007 08:33 AM

                            I'm totally unfamiliar with Korean cuisine, but was wondering whether any of the places mentioned (or not yet mentioned) serve Korean bbq in the Monmouth area.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: jsfein
                              joonjoon RE: jsfein Jun 13, 2007 10:28 AM

                              There's no tabletop Korean BBQ in Monmouth that I know of...but I keep telling myself I should start one. :D

                            2. r
                              Rogsmom RE: seal Jul 6, 2007 09:51 AM

                              Thank you, thank you, thank you for this thread! I moved into Aberdeen three years ago from Old Bridge and I had no clue how some of these restaurants are in my area especially West Lake Seafood. I've heard many glowing reviews but have been afraid to try. I've been going to Crown Palace in Marlboro for dim sum and dinner. I think I'll head over to West Lake this weekend for dim sum.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Rogsmom
                                jsfein RE: Rogsmom Jul 6, 2007 10:28 AM

                                I don't want to discourage you from trying West Lake for dim sum, but as someone who also frequents Crowne Palace for dim sum, I found West Lake's dim sum to be a bit of a let down. I still haven't made it to West Lake for a dinner off the regular menu, but based on the reviews it seems that this is where the restaurant shines, especially the hot pots and the head-on prawns (when available).

                              2. wench31 RE: seal Jul 6, 2007 12:07 PM

                                Has anybody been to Peking Pavilion on rte 33 yet? I'm not sure if it's opened but from what I've read in other threads, it sounds like it is. Also, I've tried the branch in Red Bank many moons ago and they had the all you can eat dim sum buffet. Does anyone know if the Peking Pavilion on Rte 33 have that?

                                1. DJMarilyn RE: seal Aug 31, 2007 07:30 AM

                                  Hey can someone tell me EXACTLY where Sono Sushi is in Middletown. I already have the address, but what is it next to? What are some landmarks or other stores. I know Rt. 35, but I'm not up there all that often and I have never seen where this joint is. Any help is appreciated! I'd like to try it tonight.

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: DJMarilyn
                                    val ann c RE: DJMarilyn Aug 31, 2007 07:56 AM

                                    Sono Sushi is on Rt 35 Southbound. It's in a strip mall with Blockbuster and a WOW! fitness center. It's across the highway from Pathmark.

                                    I like Sono Sushi. The food is reliably good. The staff is very nice. However, you will get better, fresher fish at Kyoto in Atlantic Highlands. But I've found Kyoto's cooked dishes are not that good.

                                    If you plan to eat sushi only, go to Kyoto.
                                    If you plan to eat a combination of sushi and cooked dishes, go to Sono.

                                    The strip mall where Sono is has a couple other good places:
                                    -- a little candy store -- Suzi's. She has a great selection. It's good old-fashioned American-style chocolates.
                                    -- the Italian bakery is quite good.
                                    -- the Italian deli is good -- especially the chicken salad.
                                    -- On the other side of Blockbuster, next to the liquor store is a really nice dog boutique -- "Cosmopawlitan".

                                    Enjoy your evening!

                                    1. re: val ann c
                                      DJMarilyn RE: val ann c Aug 31, 2007 08:31 AM

                                      Yeah, we're really big on sushi, special rolls, and especially sashimi! So you think we should check out Kyoto instead, eh? I think I read in another thread that Kyoto is located on Rt. 36 in the CVS shopping plaza. Could you be more specific for Atlantic Highlands as well? I've only been up there once. ;)

                                      1. re: DJMarilyn
                                        val ann c RE: DJMarilyn Aug 31, 2007 10:22 AM

                                        I would hate to steer anyone away from Sono. It's a good place. But I feel the sushi fish at Kyoto is markedly better.
                                        Kyoto is located on Rt 36 northbound (going away from Sandy Hook) in a CVS strip mall. At the intersection of Rt 36, Navesink Ave, and Orchard St. Near Mt Mitchell Overlook.

                                        1. re: val ann c
                                          DJMarilyn RE: val ann c Aug 31, 2007 11:54 AM

                                          Val Ann,

                                          Thank you so much for the information! I will certainly let you know how our visit was! Thanks again.

                                          1. re: DJMarilyn
                                            DJMarilyn RE: DJMarilyn Aug 31, 2007 05:36 PM

                                            Well, per your suggestion, we went to Kyoto. It was pretty good. We both had soup and avocado salads to start, and then the sushi and sashimi for two. We also enjoyed tempura green tea ice cream and a mochi ice cream sampler. Yummy.

                                        2. re: DJMarilyn
                                          taste test RE: DJMarilyn Aug 31, 2007 11:40 AM

                                          I agree with val ann c. Kyoto is better for sushi but not good for cooked dishes. I went last week and they had two specials- fatty tuna and giant clam. They were pricey but a nice treat along with the usual selection.

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