There are limitation and challenges in bringing foreign cuisine to the local restaurants. Exotic ingredients and traditional equipments are essential in imitating the genuine flavors of the food. However, one of the biggest challenges of the restaurant owners is to understand the local’s taste. How the locals perceive and approve of other cuisine’s flavors is important to the survival of the restaurant. And this is why many restaurants have to compromise in terms of authenticity and flavors in food. Many dishes have to be forced to be customized to suit the local palate.
Asian Express is a fast food restaurant in Mariplex Mall in Kalyani Nagar that serves Southeast Asian, Chinese and Japanese food. It’s one of very few restaurants that find the balance between maintaining the quality of the original dishes and adjusting them to the local preference. Though Asian Express doesn’t proclaim to serve authentic dishes of the cuisines it offer, but the menu and the quality at the restaurant are quite impressive.
Last Saturday, Asian Express invited my food gang, Pune Foodiez, to try out their menu. The restaurant was very keen to get the feedback from the foodies. We were very honest, and the restaurant was very open to hear our suggestions and how we liked the dishes that we have tried.
First of all, let me tell you about the menu at Asian Express. From tangy soup like Tom Yum to Spicy Papaya Salad, to the mouthful Japanese Potato Cake, to gyoza, momo, spring rolls, stir fries, rice bowls, noodles, Thai curries, and the list goes on and end with the delightful desserts. For beverage, lemonade and soft drinks are served. The service is spontaneous, the restaurant is chick and lively, and the price is very reasonable.
Chicken Satay was well-seasoned and quite flavorful. The dipping sauce we had was slightly runny but the restaurant told us that it could be improved. I intend to go back and try it again.
Thai Paneer Satay is the vegetarian option. Unfortunately paneer fell to capture the flavor of satay marinade.
I enjoyed how Thai Lemon Grass Prawn was tender and succulent. I would love the flavor of lemongrass to shine through a bit more.
Japanese Potato Cake, panko potato cake with wasabi mayonnaise was quite nice. The crispy crust was lovely and inside was hot and filled with aroma. I wished there was more flavor of wasabi in the mayonnaise though.
Japanese Yakitori was succulent and smeared in rich dark sauce. It would be perfect if it was infused with smoky scent from the grills.
I love Sriracha Chicken Wings. The wings were crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, the sauce was sticky, spicy with a hint of fresh coriander. Very addictive. Thai Chili Fries is a must try. The fries were hot and crispy. The citrus-y chili flavor really came through.
We suggested Tom Kha Soup needed more aromas. Fresh galangal and a hint of lime juice would have lifted the dish up beautifully.
I found the Spicy Mushroom Momo wrapper to be quite doughy and dry. But the dipping sauce was fresh and flavorful.
Raw Papaya Salad is one of my favorite dish of all time. This dish is perfect when it is paired with bbq chicken. Raw Papaya Salad at Asian Express was quite sweet and was too overwhelmed by garlic flavor. A little adjust in flavor would make the dish very good.
For main course, we tried Thai Curries (both red and green) with Basil Rice. The rice was perfectly cooked and aromatic. The curries were subtle and fragrant. We were very impressed by these dishes.
Burmese Biryani, though one of the most popular dishes at the restaurant, tasted like simple Indian Biryani.
Burmese Khow Suey was rich and delicious. I can honestly say that it’s the best Khow Suey I had in India. I love the smoky chili flakes on top. The noodle was soft and perfect, and the gravy was packed with flavor. The only suggestion we had was to serve fresh condiments along with the dish.
Pad Thai, the famous Thai stir fried noodle with sour-sweet sauce topped with peanut, was quite alright. I would love a little less soy sauce in the noodle. I never like too much colorful vegetables like carrots and broccoli in Pad Thai. A humble Pad Thai noodle with just bean sprouts and chives would be perfect.
For Dessert, we had Mango Spring Rolls. I liked the flavor of the sauce and the filling, but the wrapper was a little undercooked. There is also chocolate version. I would definitely like to try it later.
But what was really a star of the dessert was this Thai Coconut Patties with Crispy Potato Crust in thick coconut cream and palm sugar syrup. The patty is warm and filled with coconut. I love a little saltiness against the lovely sweet and rich coconut cream syrup.
Asian Express is definitely my kind of restaurant. Having fast, hot and delicious food from many countries under one roof, I can see my family visit the place quite often.
Tes (tweet to me @Testerfly)