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great south-east asian restaurants (except japanese)

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the city has some great japanese places. by great, i mean, they're basically better than the average stuff you can find in japan. i can vouch that, ignoring price difference, places like yasuda, sakagura, kyo ya, aburiya kinnosuke, all fall into that category. by no means better than the best you can find in tokyo.. but above average. which is very nice.

but what happens to the rest of the asian places? chinatown is alright. but people go there mainly because it's cheap, not because it's good. occasionally there are dishes that almost resemble the real thing - e.g. yee li's cantonese bbq, nyonya's steamed fish with ginger and scallion - but beyond these occasional dishes, that's about it.

so my question is, are there non-japanese asian restaurants that really impressed you with the quality of the food overall ? i mean quality, as compared to the real deal. it doesn't have to be 100% authentic but at least it's not ridiculously americanized i.e. not huge portions of deboned white-meat chicken covered with sweet "exotic" sauces that costs five bucks!

sadly, the only one i can think of right now is fatty crab (UWS). i'm very biased here. i'm from hong kong and don't know malaysian food that well. it certainly isn't authentic but to me it's not so dumbed down. it's interesting and has complex flavors. i also live in UWS so maybe that's why too.

anything else? korean, szechuanese, shanghainese, vietnamese, dim sum...etc, anything would do!

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  1. I'm confused by your title. Typically I see "South-East Asian" to mean SOUTH of China, EAST of India meaning the countries of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, etc. but you're asking about Vietnamese, Korean, and Chinese food?

    Given that you're from Hong Kong, it's no wonder you're not impressed by a lot of Chinese places in NYC, right? :)

    Are you limiting your search to JUST Manhattan? I think that Rhong Tiam (FKA Kurve) is pretty good for a Manhattan Thai restaurant, but for Korean, Szechuan, and dim sum, I'd go to Queens, first.

    -----
    Hong Kong
    78 5th Ave, New York, NY 10011

    6 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      ah, right! your way of using SE asia is more precise. shame on me. ;-p actually i just meant to say asian pacific, i.e. asia but not central asia where food is so different

      thanks for the the Rhong Tiam suggestion. will check it out soon.

      yeah since i live and work on the UWS going to queens is a bit far. but maybe i should do it more

      1. re: another_lau

        UWS to Penn Station, then a 20 minute LIRR train ride, will get you to downtown Flushing and smack dab in the middle of a bunch of Chinese restaurants, including some more obscure regions (Dongbei, Tianjin, Xian) as well as Hunan, Sichuan, Cantonese, Taiwanese, etc.

        1. re: kathryn

          totally irrelevant, but isn't the 7 quicker (change at time sq)

          1. re: another_lau

            Where are you coming from on the UWS?

            The 7 train has been doing off and on construction for a while now on the weekends and can be totally messed up sometimes, so if you want to take the 7, look up the schedule on mta.info before hand.

            I also find the MTA's schedule for the 7 train to be totally off because the train slows down after it gets out of Manhattan and goes onto the elevated track (maybe it has to do w/ the construction). Sometimes it feels like I could walk faster to Flushing than the rate it's going.

      2. re: kathryn

        Kathryn is spot-on. Honestly I've never been really impressed with Korean restaurants in Manhattan. But here are some spots that I do like and frequent: Gan Mi Oak for sullungtang (ox-bone soup) and Arirang for dakdoritang (spicy chicken soup.) BCD Tofu serves a pretty good soondooboo and their grilled fish banchan is awesome. Mandoo Bar for dolsot bibimbap, Madangsui or Don's Bogam for BBQ. And of course Mad for Chicken for Korean fried chicken, though I haven't been since the name change. All these spots are fairly authentic. However to get REALLY good Korean food, you've got to travel to Queens or Jersey.

        -----
        Mono+Mono
        314 5th Ave, New York, NY 10001

        Madangsui
        35 W 35th St, New York, NY 10001

        Mandoo Bar
        2 W 32nd St, New York, NY 10001

        Don's Bogam
        17 E 32nd St, New York, NY 10016

        Arirang
        32 W 32nd St, New York, NY 10001

        1. re: kathryn

          Good point, but Vietnam is also in South-East Asia.

        2. I like Jaya (in Chinatown) for Malaysian food. I've visited my mother's family in Malaysia and I would say the food at Jaya is as close as I have come to replicating that experience. My older brother, who was raised in Malaysia, is quite happy to eat at Jaya when he visits me in the city. Their renditions of traditional dishes like mee goreng and mango chicken are very good.