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Suddenly it's all about Asian. And we love it

August 11, 2017

All you have to do is blink here at the beach and things change. A restaurant opens; one closes; another one moves; a building dissolves into the salty breeze; a chef stalks out the back door ... and the band played on! One of the latest concepts to explode here at the beach is the Asian-inspired menu. Whether it's Thai, Vietnamese, a combination of both, "pan-Asian" (whatever that means), Japanese, Chinese ... it's all about kicked-up flavors and particularly pleasing presentations. 

We must first acknowledge our pioneers who ventured into that arena long before it was foodie-fashionable to do so. Entrepreneurs like Susan and Rob Wood opened Cultured Pearl many years ago; now it's all about rooftop sushi dining - suspended over a lake! Danielle and Shawn Xiong have been bringing traditional Chinese favorites to Rehoboth for many years - and it's all prepared fresh to order at Confucius. (If you like spicy-hot, tell Shawn. He'll have you hallucinating.) 

Saketumi and Stingray are two popular sushi-based mainstays here at the beach. In fact, Stingray was just purchased by our very own Big Fish Restaurant Group who did not want it to disappear after the sad loss of Stingray's founder. Up on the Highway, Saketumi is also a popular spot - so popular, in fact, that owner Tammy Wang ventured slightly south to team up with former Saketumi host Jeong Hoon Kim in a brand new restaurant centered around ... wait for it ... ramen noodles! By the time you read this, Miyagi Ramen Bar will be up and running in the Safeway center on the Highway. Don't miss the spicy miso ramen and the chashu steam buns. 

Longtime denizens of Rehoboth will remember Seaside Thai (where Semra's Mediterranean Grill is now) in downtown Rehoboth. Now there's a pioneer! After many years of serving up delectable Thai favorites, Lily Thamibutra (the owner's sister) moved around the corner to open her very own Lily Thai. Thai food lovers are not disappointed by Lily's authentic spices and flavors. Lily is next door to the original Nicola Pizza on N. First. Lewes recently acquired location No. 2 of Dover's Bangkok Thai near Pat's Pizzeria in Mariner Plaza. I like the huge selection of appetizers there. 

But wait! There's more! Just a few weeks ago the Cape Region rolled out the red carpet for its very first Vietnamese restaurant, Minh's Bistro at the intersection of Route 24 and Coastal Highway. Owner Thinh Pham (a talented actor and singer in his own right) puts his own twist on a great list of appetizers, a large selection of Pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) and some of the most well-constructed spring rolls I've had in a while. I call them summer rolls to distinguish them from the fried variety popular in Chinese/Thai restaurants, and I think (hope) that Thinh has chosen to find that charming. 

Longtime Rehoboth-area chef Mary Gaffney has teamed up with two equally talented Cape Region mainstays - Roy Fowler and Penny Reid - to work their kitchen magic at Deirdre Smith's new A Different Kitchen at Paynter's Mill in Milton. This dedicated quartet has assembled a particularly interesting menu that includes their own brightly flavored takes on Pho, noodle bowls and slightly more traditional main courses - all with an Asian accent. If there's indeed an actual meaning to "pan-Asian," this is probably it. Milton is not that far, and I don't think you'll be disappointed. 

So dig in to the noodles (cellophane, funny, crispy or otherwise), steam buns, rolls, wontons, sushi, stir-fry delights, crispy fish, rice (fried, crispy, sticky, in a bowl or otherwise) and all the rest. The business of eating is getting even more diverse here in the Cape Region, and we're all better for it.

  • So many restaurants, so little time! Food writer Bob Yesbek gives readers a sneak peek behind the scenes, exposing the inner workings of the local culinary industry, from the farm to the table and everything in between. He can be reached at byesbek@capegazette.com.

    Masthead photo by Grant Gursky. Used with permission from Coastal Style Magazine.

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