East meets Wild West--quelling our yen for exotic fare is easier (and tastier!) than ever, thanks to an abundance of Asian cuisine in Albuquerque.
By Laura Marrich and Steven Robert Allen, Christie Chisholm, Amy Dalness, Marisa Demarco, Hillari Straba, Jennifer Wohletz
Fanciest Asian Restaurant
Funny how Asian food can be inexpensive cart-style or white tablecloth, depending on your needs and wants, but we’re still waiting for cheap sushi. OK, maybe that’s a bad idea. In the meantime, Chow's Chinese Bistro takes the rice cake with a fine dining atmosphere with reasonable prices.
1. Chow's Chinese Bistro
2. PF Chang's
3. Azuma Sushi and Teppan
4. Japanese Kitchen
5. Tie: Eurasia Bistro, Japengo
Best Everyday Chinese
Our beanie hats are off to the University area staple Kai's Chinese Restaurant, because they give us good, they give us filling, and best of all, they leave us with the shirts on our backs at the end of our meals. Try the eggplant in the garlic sauce—it’s breathtaking.
1. Kai's Chinese Restaurant
2. East Ocean
3. Chow's Chinese Bistro
4. Tie: Chen's Chinese Food Restaurant, Fu Yang
Best Asian Vegetarian
Vegetarians are pretty picky to begin with, so when you chose Fei Health Café as your favorite place for animal-free Asian cuisine, we sat up and took notice. Not only do they leave out sneaky verboten ingredients like fish sauce, they've got fake meats that actually taste good, yummy combination plates and exciting Asian beverages to choose from. The only thing that's cruel about this place is that they're not open later.
1. Fei Health Café
2. Tie: India Kitchen, Siam Café
3. Tie: Annapurna Ayurvedic Cuisine and Chai House, Orchid Thai Cuisine, Thai Tip
This soup can definitely be called “everything soup” because the combination of broth, shaved beef, bean sprouts, lime juice, basil, rice noodles and about half a bottle of hoisin sauce (give or take) is everything that is good in the world. Your vote says May Café does it best, and who wants to argue with awesome?
1. May Café
2. Pho Linh Vietnamese Grill
3. Que Huong
4. Saigon Restaurant
Watching chefs in those tall hats throw things in the air never gets old, and watching them break the egg on the knife blade like that brings out the teppan kid in all of us. Who gets first prize for Japanese grillin’ it right in the 505? Japanese Kitchen, but you already knew that.
1. Japanese Kitchen
2. Azuma Sushi and Teppan
3. I Love Sushi and Teppan Grill
4. Samurai Grill and Sushi Bar
If there were an award for “best concept,” then Nothing But Noodles would probably take first place there, too. Their name tells you all you need to know, and for a few measly dollars you can feast on fettuccine or slurp down stroganoff.
1. Nothing But Noodles
2. Tie: Crazy Fish, Que Huong
3. Tie: AmerAsia, Bangkok Café, Teriyaki Queen and Thai Cuisine Buffet
Orchid Thai Cuisine might be the best-kept secret in Albuquerque that isn't a secret. If the Alibi hosted a curry cook-off, Orchid Thai's pineapple curry (with chicken or tofu, your pick) would be the blue ribbon winner. It ... is ... delicious. Full of wonderful chunks of potato and pineapple, this creamy sauce comes served straight out of the hallowed shell of a pineapple. The dish is complete with a fresh orchid adorning your plate. Incredible.
1. Orchid Thai Cuisine
2. Taj Mahal
3. India Kitchen
4. Siam Café
5. India Palace
Best Fried Tofu
OK, all you negators out there, let’s clear this up once and for all. Tofu is nutritious, delicious and lends itself just as well to being deep fried as it does to any sauce. Orchid Thai Cuisine gets the top props for building the best bean curd.
1. Orchid Thai Cuisine
2. Siam Café
When the gods invented Indian food (a happy day indeed), they must have taken special care with the structure and piquancy of naan. Robust enough to hold its own as a side dish, yet sturdy and balanced enough to complement creamy entrees like channa pindiwala and baigan bhurta, naan is the delicious glue that holds a perfect East Indian meal together. Alibi readers say Taj Mahal boasts the most flavorful naan this side of the Sandias. Their garlic naan dipped in saag paneer is our personal favorite.
1. Taj Mahal
2. Tie: India Kitchen, India Palace
3. Bombay Grill
Some people just don't get kimchee. It's their loss, but we can't really blame them. For the unfortunate uninitiated, kimchee is cold, fermented vegetables, with a briny heat that comes from a long soak in go chu jang, or fermented red chile paste. At Fu Yuang, it's served cold in one of several little side dishes that accompany a traditional Korean meal. We think it's damn tasty, but others, who would confuse its pungent, intoxicating aroma with rotting produce, would disagree. Yeah, some people just don't get kimchee, and that's fine. More kimchee for the rest of us.
1. Fu Yuang
2. Korean BBQ House
3. Yen Ching
Best Pad Thai
The thing about pad thai, says Alibi Managing Editor Christie Chisholm, is that it must be perfectly balanced. Not too much fish oil, nor too many green onions. It takes a distinct talent to make a masterful pad thai, and Orchid Thai Cuisine has the gift. They don't just throw a bunch of rice noodles in a pan and fry them up with some peanuts and call it pad thai—they put a little bit of their soul into each dish. It's Thai soul food, after all.
1. Orchid Thai Cuisine
2. Bangkok Café
3. Tie: Siam Café, Teriyaki Queen and Thai Cuisine Buffet
4. Thai House
5. Tie: Thai Ginger, Thai Tip
Best Asian Barbecued Item
Barbecue is a universally adored food, from the beef clubs deep in South America to the highest inhabitable plans of the Himalayas, where yak is favored. But for a taste of exotic meat that's closer to home, you head to Korean BBQ House in Nob Hill. They've got meaty little shortribs, scallops and shrimp, plus chicken and pork cooked on tableside grills that look like something from a science fiction movie. It's like barbecue for the new millennium.
1. Korean BBQ House (landslide)
Never underestimate the latent power of a really good plate of raw fish, rice and seaweed. Yes, we really love raw fish here, and yes, you really think Shogun Sushi makes it better than all the other places. Get some yellowtail, fondle some hot unagi, or make sweet, sweet love to a dish of pickled plum rolls--don’t let Congressmen have all the fun.
1. Shogun Sushi
2. Sushi King
3. Tie: Azuma, I Love Sushi and Teppan Grill
4. Crazy Fish
5. Japanese Kitchen
Best Boba Tea
Bubble tea mania hit the Duke City this year, and up cropped a number of boba and bubble tea establishments—the good, the bad and the ugly. There's no pulling the tapioca pearls over our eyes, we know good boba tea when we see it, and Euphoria Smoothies is the place Burque goes to suck balls. “Honey Dew Heaven,” “Creamy Avocado,” “Purple Oreo” and “Green Tea Bliss”--just toss in some boba, grab a thick straw and get to sucking.
1. Euphoria Smoothies
3. Boba Tea Company
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Annual Plant Sale at Albuquerque Garden Center
Browse various plants at reasonable prices. Proceeds support the educational efforts of the council of the Albuquerque Garden Center.
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