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Good Chinese in Bellingham ?

We're going down to our home-away-from-home this weekend (long wknd for us 'Nucks .... grin). But this time my folks will be coming along, and while they're reasonably flexible in terms of different cuisines (but nay on Indian and Mexican), to them good ol' Chinese is total comfort food.

SO ...... I know B'ham is a black hole when it comes to good (or even okay) Chinese. I recall seeing some Americanized-Chinese joints on either Holly, State or Samish but never bothered going in (which may have been wise, since we're coming from Vancouver).

But I'd like to hear what are your best rec's ! TIA.

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  1. The weekend is over, so I hope you found someplace to eat. I don't think there is any reliably good Chinese food in Bellingham. We usually hold out until we head north and can eat in Vancouver! Where did you end up, and how was it?

    6 Replies
    1. re: laurachow

      We leave today (Monday) but won't be having dinner here. So my research on here and on Urbanspoons Bellingham yielded nothing solid. Ironically we're mere blocks from AW Asian Bistro which garners decent ratings, but wife and I had a bad service experience a couple of years ago and I'm still holding a grudge by boycotting them.

      We ended up going to Blue Fin Sushi on Samish Way. Good reliable offerings.

      Where do you guys like to eat when you're up in Vancouver ?

      1. re: LotusRapper

        I've heard good things about Blue Fin. My fav sushi place in Bellingham is WasaBee.
        http://www.wasabeesushi.com/
        Never had bad food there. We also are not fans of AW Asian Bistro. I have only been in there twice. Meh. Next time in Bellingham check out Man Pies on Railroad Ave downtown. Limited seating and small menu, but delicious and even your folks would probably be happy there.
        http://www.manpies.com/

        In Vancouver, we often end up getting sushi, too. Lately Samurai Sushi. So affordable! My daughter and I eat fish and seafood, but no other meat. Hubby is strictly vegetarian, so if not sushi we look for vegetarian restaurants, fresh noodle places or funky local organic fare like Aphrodite's. Had a favorite vegetarian Buddhist Chinese place but the neighborhood got increasingly sketchy and we stopped going there. Gun shots in the middle of the day. Not worth it!

        Long way of saying we are hit and miss with Chinese in Vancouver. Would love some recommendations, if you have any.

        Oh, we also like to hit the food booths at the Richmond Night Market but haven't ventured there in a few years.

        1. re: laurachow

          Hi Laura,

          Thanks for the tip on WasaBee, it's on our radar for our next trip, hopefully in November.

          Came across Man Pies at the farmers' market but we already bought our food from other vendors (India Grille was total meh ..... were there spices used at all ? Wife and my Mom got paninis from Bowl & Roll ....... quite good.). Also saw Man Pies' storefront on Railroad but didn't stop in. Next time ..... next time.

          BTW, how's the new Fairhaven Pizza Co. on 11th ?

          A sushi rec for you in Vancouver ...... Ajisai in Kerrisdale 'hood of Vancouver. Might have to go early or make reservation (forget if they do or not). A total gem:

          http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/14/180029...

          1. re: LotusRapper

            I haven't tried the new Fairhaven Pizza Co. yet, but they continue to be a fav with the south side locals. Currently, we're addicted to the Vietnamese pizza at Soy House (on the opposite side of town, but close to where I live/work.) So good and they have a Wood Stone wood-fired pizza oven. Always yields the best crusts!

            http://www.facebook.com/pages/Soy-Hou...
            http://www.woodstone-corp.com/

            I'll put Ajisai on our Vancouver list! Thanks for the recommendation.

            -----
            Fairhaven Pizza Co
            1217 Harris Ave, Bellingham, WA 98225

            1. re: laurachow

              This may be a matter of personal preference but I prefer Pizza'za for pizza in Fairhaven. Better sauce, better crust. Downtown, La Fiamma is good as is Cichitti's. Totally different vibes though between those two.

              1. re: sasha1

                Pizza'za ? Hope theirs don't give you ...... "gas" [groans]

    2. I wanted to jump in here, not because I know of any good Chinese food in B'ham (I don't), but because I want to encourage you to give AW one more chance. It won't blow your mind - frankly few things in B'ham will. But the mushu is pretty good and the sushi, I think, is better than Wasabi.

      No asian food here will top Vancouver, so you might just be patient till you get back! But we do have some decent non asian offerings here and there depending on your mood.

      Servers are mostly college kids doing this for a little pocket change. In a small town, you take the good with the bad, and let it slide (mostly) because it's such a mellow place to live.

      By the way, every time we head up to BC recently, we hit Crystal Mall for lunch. Someone in my fam is always getting Wangs (is that right?) xlb, Beard Papa, and the bbq pork. We'll rotate also between stir fries, noodle soups, stuffed buns and boba. Or we do a 180 and hit asian pretty hard down in Seattle (Top Gun is a favorite, as is Jade Garden).

      -----
      Jade Garden
      503 SW 3rd St, Corvallis, OR 97333

      7 Replies
      1. re: sasha1

        OK, you convinced me to drop my grudge and consider AW next time :-)

        But last weekend we also had a bad service experience at the Daisy Cafe, such that we joked we were getting typical Vancouver-style indifferent service.

        Done Taco Lobo. Pretty ok, for gringos (like us).

        Strangely, so many places we haven't been to in B-ham that's long overdue: D'Anna, La Fiamma, Casa Que Pasa, etc. Guess we really don't penetrate the downtown scene enough.

        As for CRYSTAL MALL ..... coincidentally I know that food court too well, having had my office (previous job) at Metrotown for 17 years until this past February. Wang's is now replaced with new owners and stall called Xu's:

        http://chowtimes.com/2011/03/21/my-lu...

        I've not been to Xu's, but reports suggest they're not quite as good as Wang's when it comes to XLBs.

        I do personally recommend another Shanghai resto on South Granville (near Richmond) in Vancouver called "The Place", whose XLBs are decent but maybe not top-notch compared to some Richmond restos:

        http://chowtimes.com/2011/04/06/the-p...

        As for BBQ pork (and roasted pig), the general consensus around here these days seem to point to HK BBQ Master in Richmond (#3 Road, in the parkade of Great Canadian Superstore at Leslie Rd:

        http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/14/141887...

        Bon appetit !

        1. re: LotusRapper

          Thanks for the BC recs! Next time you're in B'ham, give a try to Mount Bakery, which has the best croissants and pastries in town. Try for a Saturday, and have lunch at the Ethiopian stall in the farmer's market- the food is good, but she doesn't have a storefront. I always do the veggie plate, which compares favorably with Ethiopian in bigger cities. We also like Harris Cafe (fairhaven) for breakfast/brunch. Just some ideas...

          1. re: sasha1

            Hi Sasha1 - we always stay in the heart of Fairhaven village, alternating at one of the two hotels by the bay there. Again, for far too many years since the '90s we've generally stuck to the same places within walking distance to eat: Stanello's, Mambo Italiano, Skylark, Avenue Bread, Colophon Cafe, On Rice (and the Persian place that preceded it) and of course Win's and Haggen's deli. So it's embarrassing to even admit we've never eaten at Dirty Dan's, The Black Cat, Big Fat Fish and the Harris Cafe (but we ditched Dos Padres years ago) nor Milagro, not that I personally am in a rush to try Milagro.

            I almost ate at the Ethopian vendor at the farmers' market (see my post above) but settled for India Grill which was disappointing to say the least. I'll have to do that next time, as well as Mount Bakery.

            If you can put up with some heat, here's another Burnaby recommendation for you, called the Alvin Garden, just minutes from Crystal Mall. Specializes in Hunan fare:

            http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/14/143123...

            For more recommendations, hop on over to the Vancouver-BC board and you'll not get a shortage of suggestions of where to eat ! :-)

            1. re: LotusRapper

              Super - it's funny how the first thing we do when we decide to spend a weekend somewhere is to plan the meals, huh?

              So my take on your places - Dirty Dan's is one of those predictable dark steak and seafood places where everything is old school and more expensive than creative. I wasn't terribly impressed. Ditto Big Fat Fish (this place sucks imo). To be fair, we only went once, but my food and my husband's were both foul. They didn't know what the heck they are doing in the kitchen. Black Cat is ok - cool atmosphere. Go for fondue if you like communal eating. Harris Cafe is a great neighborhood joint. Good breakfast, good sandwiches at lunch, and all their coffee is from Tony's next door. In decent weather, they have a great courtyard. I live in Fairhaven and it is a lovely place to be and stroll. Try the fish and chips bus too on a sunny day. You can't beat the people watching, and the food is pretty tasty as well. I love their fried salmon, mostly because it is unusual for a fish & chips place to do salmon.

              -----
              Black Cat
              1200 Harris Ave Ste 310, Bellingham, WA 98225

              1. re: sasha1

                Roger that, we'll hit Harris Cafe next time and skip the other three.

                For +12 years Colophon was our de facto stop for casual brekkie or lunch (even dinner a couple times) until about 5 years ago when their prices began to skyrocket. I love the homey atmosphere and service (helping out all the WWU students) but we just couldn't bare paying > $10 for a half sandwich-with-small soup/salad, know what I mean ? 'Tho their peanut butter pies are still to die for :-) and Mrs. still loves the African Peanut Soup.

                So besides Colophon and Skylark (and Avenue Bread) we need another casual brekkie/lunch venue in FH ..... Harris sounds like the place.

                Fairhaven F&C ..... funny, we've only bevvies and ice cream there, never the F&C. Should try too :-)

                Thx again, Sasha1 !

                1. re: LotusRapper

                  Even better than the F&C at the double decker bus, is the chowder! Made fresh daily and it sometimes sells out. So good, particularly at this time of year when you crave something hardy and warm.

                  The new chef at Book Fare Cafe (top floor of Village Books) is an amazing person and a seriously committed supporter of local organic food. Check that out for lunch, too!
                  http://www.bookfarecafe.com/

                  Also new to Fairhaven and getting lots of positive buzz is Drizzle Tasting Room. I haven't gone in to check it out yet, for fear of blowing my entire food budget on tasty oils and vinegars, both things I love and use a lot of in my kitchen!
                  http://www.drizzletastingroom.com/

                  If you give AW a second chance, let us know what you think. I'm sure in a few years we'll give it another try, but we're more downtown people than Fairhaven people anyway.

                  But, really, don't forget how close downtown is to Fairhaven! On a nice day, you can even walk the lovely trail to get downtown.

                  1. re: laurachow

                    Thanks for the recs, Laura ! Never batted an eye to Book Fare [blush], again I only gotten coffees from them before, however the space and scenic view is precious.

                    Oh we used to walk between DT and FH often along S. Bay Trail, great way to scrub off calories between brekkie and lunch, hehe. That is before Junior came along in 2006. Now if we can even pause at Boulevard Park playground for < 30 mins we consider ourselves lucky !

      2. Is Kuru Kuru down by the waterfront (beside Hotel Bellwether) any good ? Not sure if I like conveyor belt sushi, but when we walked by one evening they were packed with customers.

        26 Replies
        1. re: LotusRapper

          I have not been there, I have heard a lot of people say they like it. Unfortunately, they usually preface that statement with "I don't usually like sushi, but..." Either that, or they comment that they love the floating boat gimmick. Which, to me, often means they like sushi with mayonnaise and krab. So I haven't been compelled to try it. I'd be very interested to hear, if you go, what you think.

          1. re: L.Nightshade

            Will do.

            We're coming back down at the end of the month, and this time staying back at Fairhaven instead of at the Bellwether. Junior likes sushi so we'll either hit AW Asian Bistro (I'm willing to give them another try) or Kuru Kuru.

            1. re: LotusRapper

              The first couple times we ate at AW, we were very impressed. I usually stay away from "Asian" restaurants that can't decide which cuisine they are serving, But the cook there clearly knew what he was doing. We've had a velveted, perfectly cooked chicken dish, a delicious ahi poke salad, a curried dish with sweet potatoes, and several other things we enjoyed quite a bit. We've had sushi there that was fresh and perfectly acceptable. We once sat at the bar and ordered various sushi and appetizers (not during happy hour) and were quite pleased. More recently we went there for happy hour appetizers, which were hugely disappointing. Standard, greasy, flavorless fare. But that may be a facet of happy hour. So we are planning to give them another chance. The staff seems to change a lot, lately I haven't seen the fellow who cooked the perfect dishes we had on our first few visits. In fact, our very nice waiter, who suggested menu items the first time we went, now seems to be cooking. BTW, we've always been treated quite nicely be all the staff there.

              1. re: LotusRapper

                Do the sushi there for certain. We've mostly stuck with maki, I can't vouce for the sushi sushi. When in B'ham there are few better options (which is sadly not saying much). They do a good job with the fish although they can't roll a roll properly, the nori is always coming apart. In any case, I don't really like their cooked offerings, except the mu shu. For absolutely everything that they try that is Thai, On Rice is a better bet.

                1. re: sasha1

                  Which On Rice do you go to sasha? We've been a few times, only to the one in Barkley. I think everything is edible, but overly salty, and the seasonings are one-dimensional. Maybe another location is better?

                  1. re: L.Nightshade

                    Primarily the one on Samish and sometimes the Fairhaven branch. Rarely Barkley. I love salt so unless it's egregious, you probably won't find me complaining!

                  2. re: sasha1

                    Thx Sasha. You're talking about AW I presume ?

                    On Rice (on Harris) we've been twice and were underwhelmed. Maybe that's not giving them a fair shake since we are in Vancouver (not that Thai food here is mind-blowing, other than Maenam on 4th Ave). But I agree with LNS in that I find On Rice's seasoning "flat" tasting, and soy sauce dominates the sauces.

                    1. re: LotusRapper

                      AW. Re Thai, I don't know of a better place in B'ham. Again, take that with a grain of salt (tongue in cheek here).

                      1. re: sasha1

                        Hehehe :-)

                        We've eaten at Busara (up by REI) a long time ago, honestly can't remember if it was good or not.

                        Never been to:

                        - Poor Siamese Cafe (downtown)
                        - Thai Garden (up by Fred Meyer/Airport)

                        Any thoughts ?

                        1. re: LotusRapper

                          Lotus - I haven't been to Poor Siamese, but thought you might be interested in this thread:
                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/811464

                          1. re: L.Nightshade

                            Like Shaggy says ..... zoinks !

                            Thx LNS, warning heeded.

                          2. re: LotusRapper

                            Yea, I've heard things about Poor Siamese that made me steer clear. I've not tried the other 2. But there was/is a place across Meridian from the mall in the Denny's plaza that we went to several times and I don't recall liking it much.

                    2. re: LotusRapper

                      We've been to Kuru Kuru. It was fine. Not our favorite sushi in town. At work I sit in on cooking classes and a local foodie, formerly the chef/owner at Pacific Cafe, recommends Blue Fin Sushi. It was purchased by a young, hot sushi chef a few years ago and I sat in on a class that Fong and the Blue Fin chef held. He certainly knows his stuff and is buying top notch fish. I haven't been there yet, but plan on going one of these days. http://www.bluefinbellingham.com/inde...

                      For Thai, we eat different things at different restaurants. On Rice generally has very good basil fried rice. Although we just had it on Valentine's Day from Barkley and it wasn't nearly as good as usual, but they were swamped. It's always a mistake to eat out on Valentine's Day. They also have a tofu satay that we love. Such a treat for us non-meat eaters to have satay. Supon's used to make a great Pad See Ew, but I haven't been to their new location yet. http://www.supons.com/welcome

                      Both Thai House (the one near Denny's) and Asian 1 (formerly Pad Thai) near Costco have some good items on their menus, too. Thai House was the first Thai restaurant in Bellingham and we've been going there since they opened but less frequently over the years. The owners would always greet us, they knew us before we had a baby and watched her grow up, so for a long time we had a sweet spot for them. But, in the past several years the food has been more hit and miss.

                      1. re: laurachow

                        Thx Laura. Always appreciate your insights !

                        We're coming over next Sat/25 for the wknd. We have at least 1 brekkie, 1 lunch (or 2 depending what time we arrive) and 1 dinner. So our candidates include:

                        - D'Anna's (couldn't book in on New Years Eve when we were last there)
                        - Blue Fin (or Kuru Kuru)
                        - Supon's
                        - AW Bistro (redemption time ?)
                        - Mount Bakery

                        Any others we should keep in mind ?

                        1. re: LotusRapper

                          I haven't been too excited about Bellingham restaurants lately so it is hard to think of any recommendations. Meh. Maybe someone else will have places they're excited about.

                          Mount Bakery is no longer serving dinner, so it'll have to be a breakfast or lunch option.

                          People who love meat, love the big meaty sandwiches at Old World Deli.
                          http://oldworlddeli1.com/

                          The new hot spot in town is Dashi but open Mon-Fri for lunch only: http://www.facebook.com/dashinoodleba...

                          Prospect Street Cafe is popular for splurge diners, but I never have the money to eat there. There are some out-of-town places that might be worth a drive during better weather.

                          Something different would be an Incognito Dinner at Ciao Thyme, but probably not fun for your daughter and you need advance reservations: http://www.ciaothyme.com/index.php#s=...

                          1. re: laurachow

                            I agree with your "meh" Laura, it really is hard finding a recommendable restaurant in Bellingham (the main reason I started our supper club!). Thanks for the insider tip on Blue Fin.
                            We like the Prospect Cafe, but mostly for a special night out. I haven't tried one of their tapas evenings, they might be more reasonable.
                            I love the Old Word Deli for shopping, don't really eat there much, but buy their cheeses, meats, house-made sausages, olives, etc. Great quality and wonderful people.
                            We used to eat at D'Anna's about once a week, after a class we were taking downtown. The last three times we ate there, everything was overly salted and extremely oily (and I am not a person who dislikes salt or olive oil). Mr. Nightshade wants to give them another chance, but I may have reached my threshold. It may depend upon who is cooking.
                            Some general notes, not specific to Lotus's stay in Fairhaven (more just keeping the Bham restaurant conversation going):
                            One surprise for us was Giuseppe's. A friend took us to dinner there, and my expectations were low, as they usually are for the big theme-park waterside restaurants. But we had a lovely meal there, several dishes and no complaints whatsoever. This is saying quite a bit as we were fairly recently returned from cooking school in Tuscany, and lots of great dining in Rome and Florence.
                            We like La Gloria for pretty authentic Mexican. They've recently expanded their seating area. Good things in their market also.
                            The Fork at Agate Bay is worth a try, although they seem to have their ups and downs.
                            It's especially hard to come up with recommendations for someone coming from Van, where the dining is far superior!

                            1. re: L.Nightshade

                              Hmm, we'll keep Giuseppe's in oru back pocket too, thanks L.NS.

                              1. re: L.Nightshade

                                Haven't been to Guiseppe's since they moved. They've been around a long time but I've only gone a few times. Last visit was not great, but it was at least a few years ago. D'Anna's has been up and down for us, too. Same for Pepper Sisters, which most folks really love. Meh!

                                If Man Pies would get some new veggie options on the menu, we'd be there more often. I'm so bored with the same two veggie pies that they've had on the menu for months.

                                1. re: laurachow

                                  Driven by Pepper Sisters to many times but never peeked in. Are they SW Tex-Mex ? Why "meh" ?

                                  1. re: LotusRapper

                                    Sometimes Pepper Sisters is great. I should probably remember to go more often! My meh is aimed more at the overall hit/miss nature of Bham restaurants.

                                    http://www.peppersisters.com/PepperSi...

                                    1. re: laurachow

                                      As hard as it is for us to find restaurants we like in Bham, it must be even more difficult for a vegetarian, or even a pescatarian. Especially someone like you who has food knowledge and discerning taste! I sympathize!

                                      1. re: L.Nightshade

                                        Reminded me I saw this story in our local culture vulture rag, Georgia Straight, and it might be useful to LauraChow (and/or others) next time she's up here in Vancouver:

                                        http://www.straight.com/article-59597...

                                        1. re: LotusRapper

                                          Thanks. Shared on my vegetarian supper club Facebook page.

                                          I have to say, being a vegetarian is pretty easy in this area. There are always menu options, beyond the standard veggie fettuccine (which used to be the only option in lots of restos back when I was a strict veg!). I feel pretty luck to have so many inventive vegetarian menu items to choose from. When we travel, it can be more difficult.

                                          1. re: laurachow

                                            So ........ one learns to throw out any pre-planned dining ideas and well, go with the mood of the moment.

                                            Mrs. LR felt like eating Indian tonight, whereas I had hoped to scope out D'Anna's or Supon's. So Indian it is. Checking Urbanspoon (and seeing crappy reviews of India Grill downtown), we headed north on the Guide and found Cafe Curry in a non-descript mall plaza off of Kellogg. Ambiance felt more like a commissary at first, but the aromas were much too arresting to not stay otherwise. The owner and his daughter were busily cooking away 'tho the resto was empty when we arrived. A very small and simple menu allowed us to choose two "very hungry" (as named on the menu) dinner combos: butter chicken with chole (spicy chickpeas curry) with basmati rice, naan and salad. Mrs. LR had the chicken tikka masala and mutter paneer, also with the same sides. Food took a good 20 mins to cook (cooked to order) & arrive, and it was worth every minute of waiting. We wolfed everything down with alacrity, luckily within sight of no other patrons. With two large (approx. venti-sized cups @ Starbucks) hot cups of chai and a milk for Jr., our tab incl. taxes was $22. That's less than a lunch tab @ The Colophon Cafe, or possibly McD's these days. Turns out the owner and fam lived in Surrey for awhile before finally getting their greencards to move into the US. Exceptionally nice folks who seem to take great care in their food preparation and customer hospitality. Don't let the fast-food casualness fool ya. I told them our dinner was better than a lot of Indian fare in Vancouver at twice the price ....... no small feat

                                            Laura, they have a few veggie options you might like. Their prices are better than fast-food chains too:

                                            http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cafe-Cu...

                                            Tomorrow's goal for me is to snag some bacon maple bars @ Rocket Donuts before they sell out ......

                                            1. re: LotusRapper

                                              We have been really happy with Curry Cafe. I just hope they have enough money set aside to stay open until it catches on. It is never busy when we're there. The Fusion Bistro around the corner has been more up and down for us, they were still refining their menu last time we tried it. Had a great first meal there, then a not-as-great second visit and the dish we liked most on our first visit was no longer on the menu. Westside Pizza in the same place has some pretty good pie, for Bellingham. We like it! This is our neck of the woods, so we go to these places fairly often. I work at the Co-op that is one roundabout south of there.

                                              Next time you are in the north part of town, try Soy House in Bakerview Square. Get a Vietnamese wood-fired pizza with the cilantro pesto sauce, two stars. We, of course, get the tofu veggie but my friend gets the chicken and she loves it, too.Our fav take-out dinner is fresh rolls and pizza from Soy House. Soooo delicious! Mmmm, making me hungry. We're absolutely addicted to that pizza. I'd have it every week, if I could. It is not to be missed!

                                              1. re: laurachow

                                                Thx for the tip (re: Soy House). I saw it on the Urbanspoon list for B-ham restos, was misled by the name thinking it's a Japanese teriyaki place. But any wood-fired pizza that has cilantro + pesto gets my vote.

                                                The Fusion Bistro ...... is it also called Goji ? I saw their sign, walked over to peek in the door, seeing an almost empty resto, so we decided to go back to CC. How is TFB (or Goji if it's the same place) ?

                                                Tonight's dinner ended up being at Mambo Italiano. Wasn't my first choice, but tonight there was something relaxing about going to an old standby. Had a very decent portabella fettuccine that was enhanced with anchovy with no compromises. Service was attentive and friendly as usual. A good supper to send us off home northward, into the cold.

                                                Will be passing through B'ham during spring break on our trip to/from Portland.

                  3. Well we got into town in good time for a Friday afternoon. Despite my hopes of hitting the Soy House, family outvoted me for AW Asian Bistro. At least AW has a decent view (holy lightning & thunder storm, Batman !). Well the meal was rather meh to be honest. Service was slow, seemingly outnumbered by a busy Friday night clientele. We got some tidbits of nigiris and makis for Jr., I had the mu shu pork with wraps (how interesting ....... tortillas being used here), and wife had the AW special maki (cucumber, smoked salmon, etc). The mu shu was bland and "under-stir fried" (felt more steamed than stir-fried) and only helped along by the hoisin sauce on the side. But it was filling and felt healthy. Wife's AW special roll ...... I can think of much better ways to spend $11 than that mediocrity. 'Nuff said. Jr's Japanese assortment was typical and nothing outstanding but no epic fails there. Last dish we added was the calamari, which I'm still trying to forget about ...... a small, lukewarm plate of fried squid that did not taste fresh (but of the Sysco variety) and simply looked pitiful and sad on the plate. Another $8 lesson learned.

                    So there we have it. Two out of two mediocre experiences at AW in three years. Good thing there are new places popping up in B'ham regularly these days.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: LotusRapper

                      Sorry you didn't like it. I know you went with some of my recommendations. I think the mushu is among their better options, for what that's worth. A lot of the other dishes are too gloppy for me. The sushi rolls are decent too - fish quality wise - but I don't know why they alway unroll. Clearly not someone with 15 years of sushi training making those...

                    2. Still holding fond memories of our first couple visits to AW Asian Bistro, and ignoring our happy hour experiences, we tried it again last night. We ordered some of the same dishes we had enjoyed a few years ago, for the sake of comparison. We shared the ahi poke salad, which was perfect the first time we were there. Last night it was just OK: an unartistic mish-mash on the plate, fairly soggy with too much dressing. The Vietnamese curry with sweet potatoes and chicken was decent. If I had made it at home, I'd happily eat it, but it was clearly not produced by the fine hand that made the perfectly cooked version we had previously enjoyed. We also had garlic noodles with Korean style steak. The noodles were fine (I'm easy to please with garlic and noodles), but the steak which we ordered medium rare, was at least medium, and completely flavorless.

                      The entire atmosphere seems to have slid a bit also. The staff was mildly inattentive, the menus were sticky, and raucous music, not conducive to dining in my opinion, was playing on the sound system.
                      All of the above makes it sound worse than it was; it was just a let-down from our earlier memories.

                      In spite of a disappointment at our last visit to Dragon River, I'd eat there again long before I return to AW Bistro.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: L.Nightshade

                        I wonder what's led to the changes/decline ? Change of ownership ? New staff ? Poor business ?

                        1. re: LotusRapper

                          I don't know, really. And I don't know how long they had been open when we first started going; maybe they put more into it earlier on. I couldn't see into the kitchen much this time, but I'm sure the fellow who was cooking the first time we went hasn't been cooking the last few times. We have seen our first waiter doing the cooking on a couple earlier visits.
                          We should really get into Van more frequently to satisfy our Asian food needs.

                          1. re: L.Nightshade

                            One word: Nexus :-)

                            If/when you come up, post in the Van/BC board and we might join you !

                            I only recall AW started sometime < 2004, during the period when Mrs. LR and I were doing a lot of back & forth to/from Seattle.

                            1. re: LotusRapper

                              We definitely do Nexus! We're soon heading for our wintry storm-watching in Ucluelet (not a food paradise, especially in the winter, so we cook a lot).
                              I'll certainly post in the Van board before our next trip there!

                              1. re: L.Nightshade

                                I'm in the minor leagues in our foodie-sphere here. A local chowdown with a few of the local big leaguers (Fmed, Georgia Straight, Waylman, Clutterer, Eatrustic, El_Lobo_Solo, BetterThanBourdain, etc) would be cool if you guys are up for it.

                                1. re: LotusRapper

                                  That sounds great; we'd very much be up for that. My email is in my profile if you ever want to try to arrange something.

                                  1. re: L.Nightshade

                                    And my email is in my profile. Just give me a holler a week or so before you come up, or post in the VAN/BC Board telling us what you two are planning to eat/where to go, and I'm sure there'll be hungry CH-ders trailing after you :-)