Asian Cuisine Ramblings

I'm kind of a vegetarian who likes limited non-veg like chicken/fish/eggs unless there's no choice. So after coming to the US where there aren't very many vegetarian options - and the non-veg options are mostly uncooked or half-cooked - I became a little miserable and whenever I found a place where there are good veg dishes I got really excited. Yes I find happiness in small things like finding a good veg restaurant. If you're a veg eating Indian who lives in US, you'll know why. It's not that I hate meat but it's a problem when I have to eat it raw and something other than chicken or seafood. I keep mentioning 'cooked' because people here seem to eat and like the raw and half cooked food and that is what you would find in most of the restaurants too. Sadly chicken is the only thing cooked everywhere so when I don't find any veggie stuff, I have to go for it.

I was never exposed to other cuisines much before I came to US, except for the Italian pizzas/pasta and Chinese noodles. Since it's a global market here we find anything and everything with respect to cuisines. So, I started cooking more at home and hunting for restaurants where I can find some decent cooked food. We could go to places like Dunkins/Subway but they don't have any real meals, if you know what I mean. McDs and other such places are not even an option for me. I want rice or noodles for lunch/dinner! Bagels, sandwiches, and muffins are snacks and junk food. Sure, there's the occasional yogurt and juice place too but that's still not a replacement for a meal.

Luckily I found a few Asian cuisine restaurants that seemed to have something to offer for me. As much as I like Chinese, and it would always be one of my favorite cuisines, I cannot get to terms with the usage of raw vegetables in most of their dishes. Yes I have a serious problem with anything raw in food, I need a proper 'everything cooked well' kind of a meal, maybe its because that's the way I was raised and that's the way I've eaten all my life. So, when I tried Japanese for the first time, I was like, what? people who eat raw fish with a fancy name actually have something cooked? Yes, me and the husband found some places where veggies in any dish other than salad are cooked properly and surprised that it was Japanese. One such place was Nori Japan, at the Lincolnwood Mall in Chicago. We ordered Chicken Teriyaki and Maki rolls (non-sushi) here, with rice options white/brown. And OMG! everything including the little amount of veggies they had was cooked well.

The other restaurant we tried was Wow Bao, downtown Chicago. We ordered veg Pot-stickers, and the chocolate/coconut custard bao which were amazing.

We also tried some fried noodles at an Asian restaurant called Noodles & Co., on Broadway street, Chicago which was yummm.

I'm not sure if only the dishes that we ordered had everything properly cooked or if it's the case with every other menu item but we were very pleased with our orders in all these places.

Chinese restaurants are mostly takeout places here in Chicago and there's one called Panda Express which is supposed to be Gourmet Chinese. I couldn't eat anything there other than tofu, and that too was very spicy for my tastes. How can anyone eat a huge piece of uncooked broccoli, its like shoving a rubber tube down your throat during endoscopy. Manchu Wok is another Chinese takeout place that we visited and it was OK too except for the raw veggies in some of their dishes. When we are ordering anything veggie other than salad we expect it to be cooked, but not here. Although I should say I loved their orange chicken which is their signature dish. We have one small takeout place near to where we live and thankfully that is the only restaurant as of now that is keeping me from hating Chinese totally. Love their Lo/Chow Mein with veggies and chicken, and their brown rice with fried shrimp.

Thai is another Asian cuisine I like, especially because of their use of coconut milk in almost everything. Pad Thai is is my fave apart from red and green curries. And these options are pretty much the same and really good wherever we tried.

I dunno if the 'raw thing' is because the Americans prefer eating mostly raw stuff or Asians (other than Indians) are used to eating everything raw too, but that's a serious issue with me and the husband. And we were so glad we found all these alternatives which didn't serve only raw food.

Hope you enjoyed reading my path of ramblings from being woebegone to finding a little bit of sanity in the USA with Asian cuisine.

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Ramesh said...

Yes, the "Chinese food" we know in India is not Chinese at all. No self respecting Chinese would even recognise it.

I was expecting to see Mexican at the top of your list since it is so close to Indian cuisine and mostly not raw. Surprised to see Japanese - there is so little veg choice in Japanese cuisine.

rads said...

Yeah I've never really liked Chinese in the US its like I've been introduced to the real Chinese cuisine...and I really like it, and I like Mexican too, but I never really found a lot of veg options in any of them, not even Mexican, maybe its coz the American population eats meat more than veg...Liking Japanese actually surprised me too...but it does have a lot of veg options in the restaurants I've mentioned and actually some of them have only veg...maybe its just that I'm not finding the right restaurants or maybe its this way in Chicago, I dunno...all I can say is as far as I've seen I'm liking Japanese cuisine, not that I hate others but I'm finding more options that suit me in Japanese restaurants...

Maya said...

Nice reading..
i thought i was the one like this, eating chicken and fish being non-veg person..,than meat,beef n other stuffs..good to see u having similar connections..
As u said outside India,most of the restaurants in abroad have half cooked or bread recipes..i wondered how they survive just by eating bread n bun all the time.
I do enjoy Thai cuisine similar to Indian having rice and curry.

rads said...

@Maya: Thanks for telling me I'm not alone. I guess all Indians living in US have this prob in the beginning...I don't like Thai becoz wherever I ate Thai it was always raw..Thanks for reading my ramblings :)