Team Y tries the Asian Restaurant – an eatery that aims to offer the best of the East.
On the face of it, The Asian Restaurant in Azaiba is only one among several eateries serving a blend of cuisines from culinary powerhouses such as China, Thailand, India, Mongolia, and Japan.
The trend, it seems, lies in fusing food styles from different parts of the Eastern world. However, any sense of taste can often be denuded as a result, and the diner loses out on sampling the true flavours.
Thankfully, this restaurant, which seems to have anchored itself in what must be the busiest spot in the city, has got it right. In truth, The Asian Restaurant flourishes in what it does best: offering delectable dishes at nominal prices.
Having said that, we walked into the restaurant on a Sunday evening expecting the post-weekend crowd to pepper much of the area – but that was not to be. In fact, we were almost exclusively attended to by our waiter from the moment we got there.
Courteously showing us to our seats, our waiter immediately handed over three different menu cards – for the drinks, sushi, and the dishes.
After ogling the menu for a bit, we opted for a Hurricane Punch and a Spring Breeze – both mocktail coolers prepared with a blend of various syrups, crushes, and sodas; and a plate of Shrimp Tempura Roll and California Roll to set the tone for the evening.
The dishes took a good 10 minutes to arrive but the result was two delectable plates of sushi – eight pieces each.
The Shrimp Tempura rolls were the star among the two, with a very generous dose of shrimp, wrapped around sizeable Nori (seaweed), and stuffed with cucumber and avocado, and finally garnished with a dash of Teriyaki sauce.
Meanwhile, the California rolls were, well, remarkably American – even more so than what we’ve had at other places. It’s also remarkably unique, when compared with those at other restaurants.
Heavy on mayonnaise, and filled with a slice of mango, cucumber, and crab, the California rolls were definitely on the heavy side. Still, the freshly-steamed rice, along with the Tobiko (fish eggs) and the sweet contents were refreshing, to say the least.
For our main course, we decided to see if we could take it up a notch. So, we ordered a plate of Spicy Red Pepper Noodles, a mixed fried rice and a bowl of Mongolian BBQ Chicken.
The dishes arrived just as we were polishing off the sushi plates but we didn’t hesitate to dig in right away.
Sadly, however, the noodles and the fried rice were prepared with the Indian and Pakistani expat crowds in mind, so the style of preparation was Indo-Chinese. Even so, the noodles were well-steamed and seasoned, with a strong punch of spice owing to the bell peppers.
The Mongolian BBQ Chicken, though, was a let-down. Doused in a ketchup-based gravy, the strong overpowering scent of tomato ketchup took away the zest of any of the dish’s core ingredients. Even the thin, long slices of succulent chicken weren’t enough to shift our focus away from the ketchup.
That said, the bland mixed fried rice was not much to write home about, either.
Even though we were replete by this time, we decided to order a fried ice cream and a chocolate brownie with caramel sauce.
The two puddings arrived in less than five minutes – and while the fried ice cream was quite sizeable and tasty with its crushed cornflake coating, vanilla ice cream core, and strawberry side; the winner was clearly the chocolate brownie.
Presented at the table on a hot metal plate, the waiter proceeded to pour hot chocolate sauce over the freshly-baked slice of soft brownie and glazed it with caramel chunks and sauce. The result was truly phenomenal – with us declaring it the delicious brownie pudding we’d ever eaten.
Needless to say, it didn’t last too long on our plates.
Even if our experience at The Asian Restaurant was wildly mixed, we thoroughly enjoyed the night.
There’s something exceptionally quirky about an Oriental-themed (décor) restaurant, blaring American pop music, and serving a wide variety of dishes from all over Asia. It’s not something we see here in Oman often, and for that very reason, this eatery aces it – if you stick with the sushi, mocktails, and puddings.
Do you have a favourite restaurant that you’d like to see reviewed? Let Y know at email@example.com