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Authentic Food in NC Triangle Area

Anyone know of authentic places to eat around the triangle in North Carolina? These are what I have had so far that I find (or so I am led to believe) highly authentic:

Asian Aroma in Morrisville: They have a special menu that's written entirely in Chinese. I hear they're still tinkering around so you should not be too quick about coming to conclusions (I think they've been experimenting with the noodles in that menu since I ate the same thing twice but the second time was MUCH better). Their roast duck, Hong Kong-style wonton noodle soup ($1 for the first bowl!), fish cake/patty, stuffed vegetables, and salt-pepper squid are things to try! Only available during dinner and you might have to ask for this special menu... And it still seems to be expanding.

Sushi Tsune in Raleigh: High quality ingredients. Chef Tsune is very friendly and is actually Japanese (only sushi restaurant I know of whose owner is Japanese). The sushi listed on the whiteboard behind him isn't that great but everything else is absolutely amazing. Sashimi is very fresh and even the udon is cooked perfectly to al dente and well seasoned. Be sure to try the Uni too.

Don Jose Tienda Mexicana in Chapel Hill: Taco Bell has nothing on them, haha. They have a machine in the back that makes fresh tortillas (I assume every morning) and the tacos can be filled with things like lengua (tongue), chicharron (pork rinds), and tripa de res (beef intestines?) just to name a few. Of course, you can get "normal" fillings like chicken, beef, or pork. Just remember to squeeze some lime juice onto your taco, top it off with salsa, and enjoy. They have other things too but I need to make additional trips to try out their whole menu.

What have you heard (or thought) about the restaurants I mentioned? Any other recommendations? What authentic foods are you craving right now?

I'm hungry now...

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  1. If you're looking for authentic NC bbq, try Allen and Son on Hwy 86 between Chaple Hill and Hillsborough. It doesn't get any more authentic than that!

    1. We liked Neomonde in Raleigh for middle eastern food.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Lewes17266

        I've been to the Neomonde in Morrisville--the bread is quite tasty. I really enjoyed their beef-and-lamb _______. I can't remember the name. Shame.

      2. Bosphorus in Cary has authentic Turkish food


        Unaabi does a pretty good job on Afgan cuisine


        6 Replies
        1. re: blewgo

          Can a kabob from Unaabi actually be filling? Because what I'm picturing in my head is a skewer of meats for $8-9...or does it actually come with several skewers? Or something else?

          1. re: wallabunny

            I haven't had the kababs, but according to the menu they come with rice, a salad and Afgan bread. If you go with someone share the bolanee sampler platter before the kabab. It has two of each bolanee on the menu.

            The menu on the web site doesn't completely match the one they give you at the table, but it's close.

            1. re: blewgo

              I would hate to think that one would go to an Afghan restaurant and just get kababs instead of trying something more authentic and unique to the culture. Kababs are dime-a-dozen. Dishes like qabili pallau, aushak, mantu, boulanee, and kadu would be my first priorities.

              1. re: mikeh

                The Bosphorus menu is heavy on kabobs, but they have enough other stuff on the menu to make dining there an adventure. The patlican kizartmasi is one of my favorites. It is breaded, fried slices of eggplant covered with a fresh marinara sauce and surrounded with yogurt and garlic. The tomatoes in the marinara sauce are peeled and seeded. How often do you see that much care taken in food prep? On Sunday evening they have doner kebap which they serve several ways. Yes, it is kebap.

          2. re: blewgo

            EastWestCouple has been to Bosphorus tonight, and have a review to give:

            We liked the place almost immediately when we sat down. The restaurant was cozy, nicely decorated, clean, and unpretentious. Our waiter was warm and friendly and made us feel at home. We ordered Cigar Bourek as the appetizer, and the restaurant provided an opener of fresh pide bread with seasoned olive oil for dipping. We have a strong suspicion that this restaurant bakes its own bread, and it's absolutely delicious. I had the Bosphorus Salad, and he ordered the Kofta Kabob. All of it was fantastic! Without going into too much detail, the food can be summed up as being perfectly seasoned, crisp and fresh (the way Mediterranean food should be), aromatic, and delightful to eat. It's all very authentic, and on top of that, it's also done right. Of particular note, the rice pudding is really exceptional. It was brought to us nicely chilled and dusted with nutmeg and ground pistachio. At the end of a rich meal of spiced, grilled meats, the dessert was delightfully refreshing with just the right balance of sweetness without being heavy or syrupy.

            The restaurant has a cozy, relaxed "family feel", and in fact, my fiance has spent some time in Turkey and thought it was really like stepping into a neighborhood favorite there. The dining room is tiny, about 10 booths and tables total, with some outdoor seating, all of which only adds to the charm.

            We were so impressed that we felt it warranted a recommendation on Chowhounds for everybody. Cheers!

            1. re: eastwest_couple

              The bread oven was brought in from Turkey several years ago and they use it everyday to make the bread and pide.

          3. After your recommendation of Asian Aroma, my fiance and I went to try it. We second your opinion on the authentic Chinese menu. You never would have been able to tell from outside...we had driven past the place several times in the past and chuckled at the name, but didn't think to try it until reading your post. Being from the West Coast and having lived a big part of my life in Taiwan, I was happy to finally find a place with real Chinese dishes.

            The beef noodle soup was very good in my opinion (its main plus being authentic), and the salt and pepper squid was deliciously spicy and salty. There is a Chinese menu but it is also translated into English so that you can order from there too. The dinner crowd was almost all Chinese.

            yum yum! :)

            1. I really liked the Caldo de Res (beef soup). I've been wanting to try Caldo Camaron (shrimp soup), but they've been out every time I've gone back there. It seems like they have it on Thursdays, so if anyone gets to try, tell me if you like it? I've also had the Pupusa and while the curtido was only ok, the pupusa was made fresh, like everything else I've had there. It was very nice and hot, with that crunchy crust on the outside. yumyum. I've had a bit of a problem at first, though, 'cause the staff doesn't seem to speak much english, if at all. But a little research or a background in spanish will not disappoint you. :)

              Hmm...I had the costilla (ribs) and I don't think I like it very much, but I'm not the greatest judge of how it's supposed to taste, so don't really take my word on it if you've had the dish before and is just looking for a place to eat good food. My friend and I have wanted to try chiles rellenos (stuffed peppers) for so long, but it seems like they only have it on a certain day also. Simply put, the tacos are the best things there, hand down. Sopes, huaraches, etc...are ok, with the huarache being slightly off my list for the beans. Nothing against their beans, since I'm not a beans person and I like the beans there as a side dish, but the huarache was a little too heavy for me.

              5 Replies
              1. re: applegravity14

                What restaurant are you referring to here? There is no clue. Don Jose Tienda Mexicana mentioned by OP????? Please try to provide context when you post.

                1. re: TerryG

                  yeah....sorry about that. I was so excited that someone else has eaten there. Most people I know don't know that it exists. It's Don Jose Tienda Mexicana.

                2. re: applegravity14

                  Can I get a confirmation on this place please? I went in there for the tortillas (which are available down the street at Weaver St. Mkt) and all they had were some trucked in from Ga. Can I purchase tortillas here, is this the right place (Hispano-greek mural on the west side, blue awning)?

                  My spanish is muy poquito, but tortilla is tortilla, so I don't think that was it.

                  1. re: Big_Mac

                    That is the right place. They sell the fresh tortillas from a cooler behind the counter until they're gone.

                    1. re: brokegradstudent

                      This article makes reference to a restaurant in your area that makes their own corn tortillas.

                3. I've also happened to have Sushi Tsune. I went there with my sigfig weekly. We were becoming regulars, so (what seemed like) the head waitress was *very* nice to us. She gave quick, quality service and while she didn't talk much, she seemed to have noticed and tried to keep our dinner routines. We also got complimentary mochi ice cream (mmmmmm, i love mochi) and some salad and soup (separate times). The chef, I heard, has only been in the US for 4 years, he's very friendly and a bit playful. We ordered the firecracker roll one time just to try, and asked for it "extra spicy" just to be mischievous. He asked if we were sure and played around with us a bit. Sitting at the bar is definitely enjoyable if you are good at conversation. The guy is cool. It's a shame it's not opened between 2 and 5? I think (it's been a while), 'cause I would definitely like to go for a light supper thing sometimes, seeing as how my schedule doesn't really allow much time for dinner anymore.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: applegravity14

                    sorry for spamming, I just realized I haven't really recommended anything....the Uni, like the OP said, is awesome. Nice and creamy, served at the right temperature for me, which is room temperature or a bit under. Another favorite of mine is the Hamachi, which I love and like to order in most sushi restaurants. This one served fresh hamachi every time, very buttery and delicious. The salad is ok, the dressing makes it a lot better. The tempura is light and not too oily, which i appreciate, being someone who can't stand grease; they've had their off day, though, but most of the time, it's pretty good about having a light batter. As for the udon, I agree with the OP, and I'd like to add that I really liked the accompanying spice jar thing, with some chili peppers and black sesame seeds.

                  2. Clyde Coopers in Raleigh has good BBQ. Indian well you can take your pick just not Azitra. Saffron, Udupi, Sitar and Mint all seem to get good followings. You can go with Locopops for something different. Don Jose is one outlet in Chapel Hill, but there are several Taco trucks and quite a few places located in Durham that I'm sure people will pipe up about. As far as Greek I'm not sure where it goes from being authentic to something you could find at any other Greek place.

                    1. Durham abounds with authentic joints:

                      Numerous tacquerias: Los Comales, La Vaquita, Super Tacqueria, and more.

                      French: Rue Cler, Vin Rouge

                      Peruvian: Mami Nora's

                      Vietnamese: Saigon Grill

                      Dim Sum: Hong Kong

                      Bon Apetit!

                      1. You could also check out Coquette in North Hills. Where are some places that make their own pasta and do it well? Does Bella Monica? I would have to add Watts Grocery for local sourcing (although several places do that) and Neil's for making his own Pastrami/Corned Beef. I guess what may need to be answer is what is meant by authentic? Are we speaking strictly ethnic cuisine?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                          Good point:

                          Watts Grocery authentic contemporary southern cuisine using local ingredients

                          Piedmont: same deal only less specifically southern

                          Toast: authentic Italian paninoteca

                          Backyard BBQ 1 &2: authentic cue

                        2. Mexican - Los Cuates, Super Taqueria, Taqueria Mi Pueblo.

                          Vietnamese - Pho Cali, Pho Far East.

                          BBQ - Backyard BBQ, Allen & Sons, Clyde Cooper's, Holden's.

                          Hot Dogs - Shorty's.

                          Doesn't get more authentic than that.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: whitehackle

                            La Vaquita as well. Really the Mexican places are all over... some are better than others I would assume.

                          2. There is a new authentic Chinese restaurant in Morrisville called C&T Wok; we ate there tonight and found a traditional Szechuan menu that looks to be fairly authentic. We tried the Pork w/ Szechuan Radish Soup and the water-boiled beef (classic szechuan dish) and both were excellently done. I (the eastern counterpart) feel that this restaurant may become my favorite Chinese place in the triangle area, but will have to try more from it before I make that decision.

                            2 Replies
                              1. re: Suzy Q

                                It's in the same shopping center as Tower in the old MaWa location.

                                I've been twice and really enjoyed the Thai food: Tom Yom, Basil Chicken, and a glass noodle dish that I can't seem to remember the name of right now.

                            1. Pancho Villa on Chatham St. is about as authentic as you can get for mexican food. Speaking spanish is almost a requirement. Their pozole is delicious, and you can get any of their tacos with a variety of meats, including tongue. Then you can always go next door to the mexican grocery store and get a fresh paleta.