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Restaurants & Bars 11

Asai, Belmont

ErstwhileEditor | Jul 1, 2004 02:53 PM

I have driven by Asai for many years and have been curious about it. I picked up a menu a summer or two ago and thought it looked similar to Asiana Grille in Arlington. Unfortunately, today we decided to try this restaurant.

My daughter ordered her usual Teriyaki Chicken lunch special, which said it came with salad, rice, dumpling, and hot and sour or miso soup. I ordered the Tidbit Satay appetizer (chicken and beef satays, dumplings, spring roll, and shrimp kebab). I was taking notes as the things arrived and as we ate....

The first thing that arrived was the Hot and Sour Soup. It was ominous looking. It contained tofu, egg shreds, baby corn, capsicum of various colors, tomato, carrot, onion, and tiny flecks of chile pepper. The smell was no less ominous. Indeed, it tasted almost like something Campbell's Soup might come out with--but much worse. It was a travesty--the only good thing I can say about it is that it was colorful.

The teriyaki lunch special came with the aforementioned items plus one tiny piece of orange and two pieces of sushi (California Roll)--however, the dumplings were nowhere in sight. Instead there was a small chicken nugget and a small patty of mashed potato, both dredged in panko and deep-fried. They were relatively good, compared to most of the rest of the offerings. My daughter said the teriyaki chicken was not what you expect when you order teriyaki chicken, and she would know, since she does order this a lot. Rather, it seemed to her to be more like a heap of satayed chicken chunks swimming in sauce. I tasted it and found it barely edible. The rice had a texture that suggested it was old--or even left-over. The salad dressing also had a stale taste.

On to the Tidbit Satay. This consisted of two skewers each of beef satay and chicken satay, one skewer of shrimp alternating with pieces of vegetable, a spring roll, two fried gyoza, and two dipping sauces. The spring roll, filled with cabbage and shrimp, was crispy and fresh tasting. The gyoza were a bit odd and mushy but good relative to the rest of the meal. The beef satay had a soft, flabby texture, and what little flavor it had was a bit sickening. Ditto for the chicken. And ditto for the shrimp, although the shrimp were firm. The thin dipping sauce was bad, and the peanut one was even worse. Does anyone remember the first frozen Chinese meals that tasted and smelled sort-of like garbage? This fare reminded me of that, but it was even worse.

We ate virtually nothing of this meal, and I am not exaggerrating when I say I felt slightly sick to my stomach when I left. It was just awful. I cannot think of a less-palatable meal I have had in my decades of restaurant-going. My daughter says they needed a bucket near the door... Or the bathroom should be relabeled "vomitorium".


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