HOME > Chowhound > Southeast >


Is Good Asian possible in Charleston SC?

Having recently moved here from DC I am suffering from all things asian withdrawal! I love chinese,dim sum, thai, and vietnemese food. I have had some luck buying ingredients and cooking myself at H&L market. Also enjoyed Basil and Dragon Palace(although both seem overpriced a bit). Any hidden asian hotspots out there?Help!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. For Chinese I like Red Orchids in West Ashley. It's a bit higher-end than the typical Chinese take-out place. Basil is definitely my favorite Thai place, but it is a bit pricy and gets very crowded. I've heard Jasmine Thai, on James Island, is very good, but I haven't been there. Another place you might try is Party Kingdom Bistro, for pho. It got an incredibly good review in the City Paper:

    1. I will second the Jasmine and Party Kingdom recs. Eat in at Jasmine though, I am always disappointed when I get it to go. There is also a good take-out chinese place near Ion off Shelmore Blvd in Mt. Pleasant, this place is better than others with a great fried eggplant dish. Unfortunately, thats about all we have! No dim sum or authentic Chinese. For that, you are going to have to do it yourself! The boyfriend and I frequently lament the lack of good Asian food here in charleston! I have a cousin who will not move here due to the absence of Dim Sum. Very sad indeed.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Jessica Laurel

        I have felt your pain. I moved here from DC in '96. While there are some ok places, Basil being my favorite, I think you must learn to love shrimp and grits. You'll get used to it.

      2. Anyone try KIM'S Japanese/Korean place?
        1716 Old Towne Rd
        Charleston, SC 29407-5035

        I may go myself this weekend but any input would be great!

        2 Replies
        1. re: MyNextMeal

          I have not tried Kim's, but I have always been intrigued. The parking lot is always full, but yet I don't know anyone who has eaten there. The City Paper did a write up not too long ago, it might give you some insight. If you go you must post, this is one review I would really look forward to.

          They also have a website: http://www.kimsasianrestaurant.com/

          Back to the OP. I also like Basil, Dragon Palace and Red Orchid. I have also had a good meal at Taste of Thai in West Ashley on Orleans Rd. I found their Pad Thai to be every bit as good as Basil's. I will say that I have never eaten in the restaurant, only carry out, but the staff seems very friendly. There are also a lot of places in North Charleston, you just have to drive around and look for them.

          1. re: lizzy

            For cheap Chinese food buffet, I like the C&W buffet on River Rd. For a six dollar Asian buffet, I have to believe it's as good as you'll find. Basil is obviously quality, but it is too expensive. There's now a new WOK place downtown, anyone had that?

        2. Try Pho Bac in North Charleston, located by the ice rink. Great Vietanemese food.

          1. Basil is very good but overpriced and difficult to get a table. It's the only reasonable option downtown, though. The best Thai I've had in Charleston is Tasty Thai in a strip mall on Orleans road across from Citadel Mall. It's worth the drive. Sadly, there is no other decent Asian that I've found here. There is a new upscale Sushi place by Brett McKee going in on Upper King. Also, Carolina Crew are redoing the Boathouse on Eastbay into an upscale Asian place. I'd be satisfied with a ripoff of P.F. Chang's (or even Pei Wei), but hopefully it will be even better.

            2 Replies
            1. re: tennreb

              Tasty Thai just opened another location downtown, where Little Thai Too used to be.

              1. re: tennreb

                I visited Taste of Thai again this past week and once again had just an okay experience. So far, I have found that the only dishes that are consistently done well are those composed of noodles. The appetizers are always bland (I have tried the stuffed shrimp, egg rolls-- which are technically fried spring rolls--- and steamed pork & shrimp dumplings). Soup is bland, duck overcooked, curry portions small. Basil may be a little pricier (and not much) but the atmosphere is ten times better and I have never received a bland dish in the years I have been frequenting the restaurant. Also just to reiterate, Jasmine on James Island is consistenly tastier than the Taste of Thai, in my opinion at least.

              2. W.O.K. (World Oriental Kitchen [?]) is a new installment on lower King, inhabiting an Industrial-Asian type space with a basic menu of noodle and rice combinations produced by a line of chefs working before the eponymous cooking vessels. The scene is far outside the normal Charleston situation, with a sleek space reminiscent of a glossy chain instead of the brainchild of a locally raised business student, who has founded his concept on the idea of "clean and green", resulting in an environmentally-conscious production area of napkins, utensils, and serving vessels, and locally-produced and sustainable food. This amounts to something of a haute environment, complete with its own self-promoting television, where one typically selects a noodle or rice base (that comes with onions, cabbage, and carrots), adds in one or more meats or vegetables, and finishes it with one of eight sauces. The resulting combination is put forth in a sturdy pint-sized takeout container in a dining area punctuated by a bamboo-like planting and ringed by ecologically sound wooden tables and very comfy chairs. The lo mein noodles are very fresh with a pleasant al dente bite and the sauce - I had black bean garlic - wasn't exactly reminiscent of black bean, but had a sweet citrus pungency which was as pleasant. The broccoli add-on was scarce, and the dish lacked in being properly mixed, with oiliness being foremost, but no doubt it was an impressive concoction for a $6.50 price point. Will the demand support the Asian-ecological concept? Hard to say, but no doubt they are giving it a strong effort.

                7 Replies
                1. re: observor

                  I like the concept, but both times I tried it, the food just wasn't that flavorful. I'll go back and give it another shot. Maybe the problem was eating out of cardboard container. I'd appreciate a plate and proper presentation. Also, they need more items on the menu other than food that you have to build yourself. At least some house specialties and some appetizers.

                  1. re: tennreb

                    Yeah,. it's pretty limited in its scope and it is strange eating take-out you don't take out, particularly in what I found to be a nice design (minus the TV). But for a quick fix, it seems to do alright, considering you don't have to add any meat or vegetables and can get stir-fried noodles or rice with minimal veggies at 5 dollars. Still, you get more food for the money at Chopsticks downtown.

                    1. re: observor

                      I love WOK. Its brand new to Charleston and i think it's a great addition to the city. It definitely has had its kinks (much like all restaurants STILL do) and they have seemed to have worked them out. They always are trying different sauces as a "special", adding new tapas, happy hour, weekly giveaways (per their Facebook page), new flavored teas, soups, and weekly specials. They also have "pre-chosen" menu items, known on the menu as "Protein Packed", "Health Special #1, #2, or #3" or the "Chef Special" which are already "made up your choice" meals to order. I think it's a great concept- you can build your own with what you want exactely instead of "substituting or leaving out" but still having to pay full price for those missing items. Obviously since I have been going there (a couple times a week now), I haven't eaten out of a cardboard box and have ordered from those "pre-chosen" menu items, so maybe you all should try going back to see if things have changed for the better since you have last visited- I think you would be impressed.

                    1. re: Sue in Mt P

                      Isn't Calhoun the dividing street?

                        1. re: Sue in Mt P

                          Then I believe it's on Lower King.

                  2. New place will open south of Calhoun called Finds, or something... "Thai, Chinese and sushi"

                    Party Kingdom wll become a sushi kind of place. Until that happens, pho there is excellent ($8), fresh, large, and hot, with all the traditional accompaniments.

                    1. I certainly don't know about how good any of them are but North Charleston/Summerville has *countless* Asian spots. I haven't tried many of them, but at least in a lower price point C&W on Rivers Ave. does alright, as stated,


                      1. Party Kiingdom is okay.I love Pho and like my mint,shoots, etc to not be wilted.That is usually what happens.Try the Pho at H&L.Also, their Duck soup is wonderful.It seems like Pho Bac has been up and down lately.Don't know why?

                        1. "Fish" on King St. has Dim Sum, don't know what it's like.

                          1. C&W on River's food is pretty low quality. You are better off spending a couple more dollars and putting something good in your body. Plus eating at at buffet during flu season probably isnt the smartest thing to do. Id vote for Majestic on KIng.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: foodseller

                              Sadly, Majestic Grill on King Street closed last week. I echo praise for Red Orchid and Basil.

                              1. re: foodseller

                                I don't think there is a 6 dollar Chinese buffet that is of high quality...but for this type of food, if you go on a weekend where high food use keeps the food new, then I think it is OK.

                                1. re: observor

                                  What happened to Emperor's Garden????

                              2. Party Kingdom is "rebranding" itself as Quyens - although the kiddie amusements will remain. The new menu looks good (mostly Thai and Viet dishes with Sushi). I'd be happy to eat my way through it.

                                While it won't be *stellar* Asian food - what I've had is pretty darn good. The Pho is decent (though the broth could use more anise and overall depth), the spicy beef lemongrass soup is great, and recently I've ordered the tamarind/seafood hotpot which was really top notch and the Vietnamese Crepe (banh xeo) which was above average - good enough to satisfy my need for my favorite Viet dish though not the best version I've ever had (but far from the worst).

                                They are adding a big lunch buffet starting next week. The service is friendly and pretty prompt. I'm plugging for this place to stay around!

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: MyNextMeal

                                  The lunch buffet was $9.99 today, Saturday, and it was delicious as well as beautifully presented. I didn't try the sushi (at least a dozen kinds), but the goi ga (chicken salad) was wonderful, as was the papaya salad. The hot dishes were all very good--seafood combo, chicken with various sauces and vegetables, beef with several sauces and vegetables, and two or three curries. I've eaten Vietnamese food for years, and I'm glad to have a VN/Thai/Asian restaurant on James Island. This was my fourth visit, and I plan to return. It's hard to find--they need a bigger sign. You have to know that it's in Party Kingdom to find it. The children's area is in the back, and did not detract from our experience.

                                  1. re: whitekayak

                                    They seem to be sampling a variety of prices...I found the food quite varied but rather on the cheap side of things.

                                2. RED ORCHID

                                  Called a "China bistro" (don't know what that is) the surroundings are pleasant enough and the food seems to be well made. I had the vegetable moo shu that was nicely prepared, though the vegetables were a bit too finely shredded and they don't make the pancakes for you as I have seen. My partner had beef with asparagus and said the beef was a bit too well cooked for her. Also perturbed that a tiny pot of tea runs $3.50. But service was good, prices reasonable, and food seems well prepared.

                                  1. QUYEN: $12 lunch buffet

                                    Quantity definitely rules over quality at the new luncheon spread to be found at Quyen. 18 faux Asian dishes dotted with cheap meat marks the one end, the other made up of 8 cold salads and about two dozen sushi rolls and nigiri sushi, loudly colored and lacking in much recognizable seafood (there's also soup and an artifical dessert section). The sushi is what you would expect at this type...rubbery, muted, and bedded on, or wrapped in, gunky rice. The hot items greasy and substandard. Not recommended.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: observor

                                      So I guess the answer to the OP is no. I'm not sure that "good asian" and "chinese buffet" should be in the same category.

                                      1. re: Sue in Mt P

                                        Not if you look at the post previous to the one you have responded to.