One of the nice things about working in Asian Studies is that I get to find out from my colleagues and friends which Asian restaurants are the best in our area. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but these verified spots are more than enough to get you started on your Asian food tour of the Triangle!
Red Lotus in Chapel Hill (photos below)
This is the only place my colleague has been going to for the past several years. Red Lotus has an excellent Shanghai menu and lunch menu, and they also offer other Asian dishes like curries and Singapore noodles. Over the course of our visits, we’ve had the string beans, spiced fried fish with bay leaf, Shanghai tofu dish, sesame chicken, Thai curry, and Shanghai bok choy. I loved the spiced friend fish with bay leaf (admittedly I had to brush off the hot peppers to minimize the heat). I’ve also been told the pineapple fried rice is wonderful although we haven’t tried it, yet (another reason to go back!). And my mother-in-law absolutely LOVES the hot tea they served!!!
Gourmet Kingdom in Chapel Hill
When we first arrived in the area, we were told that this was the best Chinese restaurant in Carrboro. Gourmet Kingdom serves up some great Sichuan (Szechuan) and was rated by Indy Weekly as one of the best restaurants in the Triangle. We enjoy eating their eggplant with garlic sauce, Chinese spinach (kongxincai also called kangkong in Tagalog), beef noodle soup, dumplings, and sliced beef with green onion. My Chinese friend remarked that their sliced beef with green onion was tasty (I agree!).
Dragon Inn in Durham
While I’ve only been once with a colleague, we enjoyed eating a couple of their dishes. We’ve been told that their hotpot is also delicious. Hoping to return during the winter season!!!
Happy China in Durham
Another Sichuan-style restaurant in the area with a big menu. Try familiar dishes like sesame or orange chicken, or try something spicy like minced pork with vermicelli or fish fillet with spicy Sichuan sauce aka shuizhuyu (I love this dish, but instead of translating it to ‘sauce’ it’s more like a ‘stew’)! Just ask for plenty of water or tea to put out the fire!
Lime & Basil in Chapel Hill
We’ve been here a few times but what makes me love them is that on Valentine’s Day a couple of years ago, they gifted a plastic bag of chocolate candies on the table to their diners, so very Asian-cute! My colleague says that this is the best pho establishment. I love their beef pho as well as their Saigon street noodles and bubble tea. If you plan to dine on the weekend, just remember that they’re closed on Sundays….
Pho Super 9 in Raleigh
We were able to eat once at this place because we went shopping one day in Raleigh. I was pregnant at the time, so I think it might of been one of the few occasions I finished my whole bowl of pho! The three color dessert was also very memorable; gotta love beans in dessert!
I realize this is going to take a lot more thought for Japanese, Korean, Thai, and Asian fusion recommendations so that’s it for now. Stay tuned for Part II!