Monday, January 9, 2012

Asian Palace Fusion in Columbia

Roti canai at Asian Palace Fusion
I'm the last guy who should be writing, "We were shocked to find such an interesting restaurant in a shopping center," but I have to admit that it's the truth.

Asian Palace Fusion is a new restaurant tucked into an office building near Howard County Hospital.  It's a stretch to say "city restaurant," but it's a sleek and modern layout with a sushi bar, cascading water, and the sparkly look of neon, metallic cloths and cool lights.

It's not exactly a fusion restaurant.  They're not rethinking one cuisine in light of another.  Instead, they're creating the pan-Asian menu that seems more and more popular these days -- sushi, Chinese, and a touch of southeast Asia.  In this case, the touch seems heavily Thai.

Asian Palace played to the HowChow by offering an appetizer that we had never seen before -- roti canai, a Malaysian or Indonesian flatbread with Indian influences.  The flaky, fried bread was interesting, but the curry dipping sauce made this a must-try.  Maybe coconut?  It's a rich, strong flavor, and I wouldn't let them clear the bowl.  I poured another serving on white rice with the main courses.

Our main courses were split like the menu -- one sushi roll and one Thai stirfry.

On the Thai side, we tried the Bangkok basil with chicken.  It's a winner.  Long slices of white meat served with a strong taste of basil and tender vegetables.  Thick slices of onion, zucchini, and pepper weren't popped frozen from some food service pack.  They're fresh vegetables cooked through, but still crunchy.  A thin brown sauce brought the dish together.  I have no idea if this is authentic somewhere, but it's delicious.

On the sushi side, we went with the naruto roll.  We're fans of big multi-ingredient rolls, and Asian Palace enticed us by wrapping three kinds of fish and avocado in slices of cucumber.  It's pricey at $13 for five pieces, but it's beautiful and unique.  The cucumber is an integral part of the roll, slices thin enough to bend but thick enough to crunch.  They balanced the fish, and they gave a contrasting texture -- a crispness like tempura but fresh and light instead of fried.

In the end, Asian Palace is worth a drive even past your local Chinese joint.  Asian Palace aspires to be more than a neighborhood place, and it has the decor and the menu to be something special like Jesse Wong's Asean Bistro.  I'm eager to try some of the Thai dishes like penang or green curry.  There are also dozens of sushi rolls ranging from basics through multi-ingredient monsters.

Asian Palace is especially worth a drive for a group of people who want different foods.  A bunch of you could split sushi while the outlier enjoys a Thai dish.

Has anyone tried the lunches?  Asian Palace is just south of the hospital and Rte 175.  This is pretty convenient for people who work near the hospital or the Columbia Mall.

Asian Palace Fusion
10801 Hickory Ridge Rd 
Columbia, MD 21044

NEAR:  Asian Palace is in the first floor of a commercial building at Hickory Ridge Road and Cedar Lane.  We get there by turning off Cedar Lane.  It's the same building as Mad City Coffee.

Asian Palace on Urbanspoon


stephanie said...

the place looks great, the menu is way cool but i have eaten there twice and not been impressed - -foods were greasy and not strong enough flavors, sushi was ok but so the new Katana in Hickory Ridge - just didn't live up to expectations - -i might try it one more time

Alicyn said...

I ate there all of the time when it first opened and I now frequent
every now and then - since I live down the street from it.
- Tuna Dumpling - was great but I definitely played the dish out by
ordering it too much. avocado, tuna, tempura, and crabmeat with mangon
- Tuna Pizza App - Awesome! Thin slices of tuna on a tortilla with
avocado, scallions, and a balsamic.
- Their version of Bang Bang Shrimp appetizer needed more flavor the first time and since then has improved.
- Seaweed Salad - Very large and great flavor!
- Tom Yum Soup - good and enough servings to feed at least two people.
- Pad Thai - usually very good but seems to be inconsistent. Sometimes
it is too greasy and lacks flavor.
- Red Plum Roll - Pretty good from what I remember.
- Crazy Tuna Roll - very good roll
- Matsuri Rol - my favorite - Lobster with pink seaweed, eel sauce, and toro
- Alaska Beauty - had it a while ago and I remember it tasting fairly good.
- They do a pretty good job with General Tso's too

I like the ambiance of the restaurant, the staff is nice, the food is decent , and it is convenient to my house. Sushi Sono is still the go to sushi spot, hands down, but we don't expect anyone to give them a run for their money really. At least I don't. So for a quick and less
crowded alternative, this can be it - ESP if you are with a non-sushi lover. If you sit at the sushi bar, they will usually have you try out something that is not on the menu yet.

MarkM said...

I told you a few months ago, when it opened, that you would like it and should try it. I have seen people actually taking pictures of their meal before digging in!

MarkM said...

The location, for all the older locals, is the site of the former China Chefs. It has been totally renovated and is a beautiful environment for a delightful meal.

anita b. said...

it's ok, it's not the best. I still favor Sushi Sono and Sushi King.

Mike said...

The atmosphere is very cool, I'll give it that; however, my wife and I got takeout and tried one of their Thai dishes when it first opened (I believe it was their version of drunken noodles) and it was disgusting to put it nicely. The noodles were a bland, gelatinous mold of the takeout container and the only distinguishing feature was what was called "chicken" but could've more aptly been described as thin, slimy meat product slices. We were extremely disappointed especially since the dish was quite pricey and we were looking forward to a good Asian place being right around the corner from our house. Instead, we still make the 20 min drive up to Thai Aroma in Ellicott City to fulfill any Thai cravings.

Jennifer Diamond said...

My husband and I have been there quite a few times as it's in walking distance from our house. We really like the food and the staff is very friendly. The Matsuri Roll is definitely our favorite sushi roll. The seaweed salad is enormous compared to other restaurants. Their General Tso is very tasty with quality pieces of meat. We've brought our 11 month old baby there 2 times and they were very accommodating, which is nice considering the decor and ambiance is more adult looking.

I've gone for lunch and the food has been just as tasty (and the price is fantastic - about $8 for their lunch specials).

HowChow said...

@MarkM -- The great part of the blog is that I get all these recommendations.

@Mike -- What are your favorites at Thai Aroma? I have only been once. I should try it again.

@Anita -- Just your comment made me want to go get a roll at Sushi Sono! This isn't Sono or Sushi King. Those are still Tier One. It's amazing that there are probably four tiers of sushi restaurants around -- from "the best" to "creative places worth driving" to "neighborhood joints" to "supermarket/fast food fish." You will get a fine meal at any of them depending on your need/mood.

Alicyn said...

Thai Aroma is good...Tom Yum Soup, Fried Tofu, and Pad See Ew. I also tried the Thai place a couple of months ago in Oakland Mills which was pretty good.

Anonymous said...

I feel like Asian Palace sushi is as good as Ichiban. I think people may have given this establishment too much credit on taste cuz they play up the flare aspect, sure they have decor and use fancy lighted ice cubes and pizzaz in their sushi over ice shanningans. The food is ok, really it's just OK. It's edible. That's all I gotta say.
I do love that R&R joint, I tell them How chow recommended everytime I see Rodriguez(?) I'm going to take my mom sometime this week. SHe's not into the hole in the wall experiences.

Mike said...

@HowChow -- our usual at Thai Aroma is the Thai Basil with Chicken and Drunken Noodle with Chicken. I'm not a huge fan of spring rolls in general, but I love their's and their steamed dumplings are delicious too. If you have room for it, the mango and sticky rice makes a light but satisfying dessert.

heidi said...

I went with a friend and ordered pad thai and it was awful. My friend's dish was good and while the pad thai looked pretty, it was sickingly sweet. I'm hoping that it was just a bad night since it's so close to my house and I really want to like it.

Anonymous said...

Re: Thai Aroma, try the Larb appetizer.

Basically, cold minced chicken (or tofu or beef or pork or ...) with Thai basil, cilantro, lime, red onions, some kind of other flavoring (fish sauce maybe?), depends on the establishment how they gussy it up but its delicious.