Navigating San Antonio's Asian Restaurants 

click to enlarge PHOTO BY SARAH FLOOD-BAUMANN
  • Photo by Sarah Flood-Baumann

Ming's Noodle Bar When Ming’s Noodle Bar opened in mid-December, the small shop was taking a gamble on whether diners would latch on to this market staple. Six months later, as we sat slurping spicy coconut noodles in 97-degree temperatures, it’s evident Ming’s Noodle Bar has cemented owner Ming Qian’s grasp on our city.

Qian’s been a favorite since the days of the Quarry Farmers and Ranchers Market with the now-signature Sloopy pulled pork steamed buns. She and husband Hinnerk von Bargen, an instructor at the Culinary Institute of America-San Antonio, eventually added a booth at the Pearl Farmers Market. 

When Qian and co. finally launched Ming’s Noodle Bar in December, some of the menu items were already familiar, but San Antonio was ready for something more.

It’s hard to pass on the Ma La noodles, with sweet potato noodles and a Sichuan-style broth that grows spicier as you slurp. The kitchen achieves the layered broth with a house-made paste of chiles similar to arbol, Sichuan peppers, star anise, coriander, chile bean paste and whole, skin-on peanuts that are slow-roasted before going into the mix. The end result is fragrant, and finding the elusive peanuts adds texture to the bowl that contains broccoli, cilantro, scallions, shredded carrots, and meaty wood ear mushrooms.

The growing list of buns is a telltale sign and the creativity and freshness displayed on the German slaw and Mung Bean noodle bun (which play to Qian and von Bargen’s heritage) will keep us coming back for more. 5249 McCullough Ave., (210) 570-6318, mingsnoodlebar.com

click to enlarge KUNG FU NOODLES, PHOTO BY DAN PAYTON
  • Kung Fu Noodles, Photo by Dan Payton
Chinese

Golden Wok Sometimes you want tiny pockets of deliciousness in your mouth. Enter Golden Wok’s extensive dim sum menu, which helped propel it as Best Chinese in several of our Best of San Antonio readers polls. The hargau, tapioca skin stuffed with shrimp, are a staff favorite. Visit the Wurzbach location on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. for a dim sum house feel. Pick your poison from carts brought around to each table. Multiple locations, goldenwoksa.com.

HuHot Mongolian Grill Create your own stir-fry destiny at HuHot. Choose from seafood and meats, 24 different veggies and 21 house sauces. Feast and repeat as trips to the gill are unlimited. The line-up is flanked by a menu of soups, salads, appetizers and a boatload of dessert options. 12710 I-10 W., Suite 100, (210) 641-1288, huhot.com.

Kim Wah Chinese Barbecue Don’t be fooled by a long line of fan-drying ducks: You must order ahead. The duck is divine, wrapped in a puffy, dim-sum-like bun. As for the rest of dinner — order from the serious Chinese menu and the chalkboard where you’ll find such exotic treats as braised intestine. Yum. 7080 Bandera Road, (210) 520-2200, kimwah.com.

Kungfu Noodle The noodles, available in both stretched and thick ribbons, are hand-pulled by a pair of Chinese transplants, hailing from the Anhui province. Go for the spicy lamb noodles, stay for the pork and celery dumplings. 6733 Bandera Road, (210) 451-5586.

click to enlarge JESSICA ELIZARRARAS
  • Jessica Elizarraras

Lucky Noodle The Kungfu Noodle empire has expanded ever so slightly with the opening of Lucky Noodle, opened by the son of the KFN owners. The new location is almost palatial when compared to its predecessor off Bandera Road and features more than 1,500 square feet of seating and open kitchen area (so you can watch the noodles being pulled and stretched). 8525 Blanco Road, (210) 267-9717.

MJ China Bistro MJ avoids most Chinese décor clichés and tries hard to do the same on the menu — with mixed but promising results. House specialties such as the MJ Steamed Bass typify the approach — try it at lunch. 10103 Huebner Road, (210) 265-5800, mjchinabistro.com.

Sichuan Cuisine The OG Sichuan spot in SA is still going strong. Try the challenging sliced pig’s ear or duck tongues with jalapeño before retreating to the likes of the (also very good) stir-fried lamb with cumin. 2347 NW Military Hwy., (210) 525-8118, sichuansa.com.

Sichuan House Sichuan House delivers regional favorites hailing from Sichuan, found in the southwest of China. The menu is a bit daunting, but go for the handmade dumplings, smashed cucumber salad, tea-smoked duck, or eggplant. Remember to BYOB. 3505 Wurzbach Road, Suite 102, (210) 509-9999, facebook.com/sichuaneats.

Tang Street This outpost serves unique northeastern Chinese fare, executed simply but exceptionally. Adventurous diners should look out for sauerkraut braised pork intestine and a cucumber needle mushroom dish. Others may find steamed pork buns, stewed lamb or traditional noodle dishes more their speed. 16111 San Pedro Ave., (210) 490-1788, tangst.com.


Filipino

Lily’s Philippine Restaurant From whole-cooked fish to fragrant stews to chicken adobo to biko and cassava cake, Lily’s is your go-to for life on the island. 8210 Glider Ave., (210) 674-7007.

My ChockDee Oriental Market Nothing is labeled, so it’s helpful to learn a few of the dishes before visiting (unless surprise stewed blood is your dinner goal), or dive into fried pork belly, kare kare stew, longanisa or lumpia, all found at this buffet. 115 E. Lindbergh Blvd., Universal City, (210) 566-2210.

Sari-Sari Filipino Restaurant Likely one of the few spots in town to offer halo-halo, or Filipino shaved ice, Sari-Sari also offers an extensive list of soups, starters, entrees, all-day breakfast and baked goods. 5700 Wurzbach Road, (210) 647-7274, sari-sari-satx.com.

Susie’s Lumpia House This buffet-style restaurant in the city’s far west side offers freshness and a rotating list of dishes. Stop in for lunch for under $12. 8923 Culebra Road, Suite 106, (210) 616-4354, facebook.com/susieslumpiahouse.



click to enlarge ERIC GUSTAFSON
  • Eric Gustafson

Japanese

Fujiya Japanese Garden Servers in traditional attire, a long list of sushi rolls to choose from, and a collection of Japanese bites (get the katsudon) have made this a favorite in the city since 1972. 9030 Wurzbach Road, (210) 615-7553, fujiyajapanesegarden.com.

Godai Sushi Bar and Restaurant Fusion sushi with a Western flair is the vibe at Godai. Classic sushi rolls, sashimi and yakisoba are all on the menu. Don’t miss wine specials during Spurs games and always take a look at the specials board. 11203 West Ave., (210) 348-6781 godaisushi.com.

Kai Japanese & Asian Cuisine Colorful plates with matching taste, this authentic Japanese restaurant serves affordable lunch specials and bento boxes. Try the shrimp tempura and a sake-rita. 2535 NW Loop 410, (210) 340-8888, kaisushisa.com.

Kimura San Anto's first noodle house came by way of chef Michael Sohocki, which means authentic as can be ramen, seasonal sides in a bar setting. 152 E. Pecan St., Suite 102, (210) 444-0702, kimura.com.

Koi Kawa Japanese Restaurant A bright dining space near the San Antonio river is the setting for creative sushi, tasty sashimi and warm katsu don. Noteworthy menu items include the  green tea and tempura ice cream. 4051 Broadway, (210) 805-8111.

Nama Ramen If you are extra hungry or with a group, the okonomiyaki fries are a crowd favorite. Topped with kewpie mayo, okonomiyaki sauce and bonito furikake, they’re truly a must-have. The ramen and sushi (the latter features weekly specials) are popular so get there early or risk waiting for a table to open at this intimate spot. 6565 Babcock Road, (210) 641-2888, namaramen.com.

Niki’s Tokyo Inn Don’t let the outside fool you. Inside is masterful sushi, fresh and simple. Some even say it’s the most authentic Japanese food in town. Sit at the sushi bar and watch your sushi being delicately formed. Western-style and Japanese-style seating are also available. Don’t miss the tempura dinners or ramen. 819 W. Hildebrand Ave., (210) 736-5471.

Osaka Japanese Steak & Sushi The bright red sign begs a visit to the Broadway or Bandera location. Warm kitchen dinners vary in flavor and price providing diners with options and sashimi is served fresh. Customizable sushi bento boxes make a great lunch or try a kitchen bento for something fresh-fried. Multiple locations, osakasteaknsushi.com.

Rock San Thai + Sushi Bar Rock San brings something different to the San Antonio sushi scene with “appethaizers,” Thai dishes and a very local USAA roll. Try the Prince of Thais with pan-seared salmon and asparagus or fish tacos with minced snapper. 5238 DeZavala, Suite 124, (210) 561-0011, rocksanrestaurant.com.

Sumo Steakhouse & Sushi Bar Dinner and a show is done well here with a variety of dinner options, house butchered beef, a pleasing sushi menu at reasonable prices and stellar cocktails. Try the fruity fuji mai tai, sumo margarita or Zen cooler.  8342 I-10 W., (210) 541-8100, sumosanantonio.com.

Sushihana Appetizers are as simple as edamame or as elegant as seared scallops, but sushi is the real standout here. Take in the careful attention to detail and presentation from the sushi chefs, and try assorted nigiri or a specialty roll. Don’t forget to check out the sake list. 1810 NW Military Hwy., (210) 340-7808, sushihanasan.com.

Sushi Zushi With four locations around the city and a usual winner during our annual Best Of San Antonio readers poll, Sushi Zushi is a San Antonio favorite. Texas flavors influence this menu with the spicy LIR roll and spicy tuna roll. The warm katsu curry comforts the sushi averse. Pair it with a strawberry gingertini or blackberry smash from the bar. Multiple locations, sushizushi.com.

Tenko Ramen Quealy Watson flew the coop and opened up his own ramen shop inside the just-unveiled Bottling Department Food Hall. The karaage is an early hit, as is the chicken katsu atop a bowl of tonkotsu. Slurp! 312 Pearl Pkwy., Building 6, tenkoramen.com.

Uni’ko Sushi Uni’Ko is a modern Japanese restaurant betraying Mexican influences and featuring elaborate rolls and presentation. 17830 La Cantera Terrace, Suite 1101, (210) 239-6610.

Yellowfish Sushi With two locations and another one on the way, SA has made it perfectly clear they love Japamex. Temaki rolls are tacos, and yes, you can enjoy a spicy sushirrito here. Multiple locations, yellowfishsushi.com.

Yummi Sushi Nigiri, sashimi, and a list of special rolls like the Black Tiger, with shrimp tempura, cucumber, eel and spicy mayo keep diners happy. Multiple locations, yummisushisa.com.

click to enlarge COURTSEY OF ILSONG GARDEN
  • Courtsey of ilsong garden


Korean

Arirang Korean Restaurant Get ready to try some Korean snacks, or pan chan, at this spot — there’s at least 50 items on the bilingual menu and traditional soju, a rice-based distilled liquor, on offer. We’re a fan of the pa jeon, green onion pancakes stuffed with seafood, and anything with octopus, but there’s also plenty of kimchi and Korean barbecue. 2154 Austin Hwy,, (210) 650-3845, arirangkoreanrestaurant.net.

Ilsong Garden This café introduced many San Antonians to Korean cuisine and has been rewarded with the top spot in the Best Korean category of our annual Best of San Antonio readers poll for many years. Homemade kimchi and the superior bulgogi continue to entice diners. 6905 Blanco Road, (210) 366-4508, ilsonggarden.com.

Kiku Garden Go interactive with Kiku Garden’s unique cook-it-yourself Korean BBQ experience. Start off with a platter of bulgogi and wang kalbi and let the good times roll. 4527 Goldfield, (210) 662-6699, kiku.com.

Thai

Bangkok 54 This SA sibling of a Washington, D.C.  establishment serves unusual and pleasing Thai variations. Try the soft-shell crab with basil and very capable favorites like yum talay and Massaman curry. 2515 Nacogdoches Road, (210) 822-5454, bangkok54restaurant.com.

Jasmin Thai Begin your meal with spring or summer rolls, then move on to Jasmin’s specialties: green papaya salad with dried shrimp and a bowl of noodle soup. Finish off with a plate of sticky rice with mango. 4065 Medical Drive, (210) 615-6622, jasminthai.org.

Mon Thai Bistro and Sushi Mon Thai offers sushi and Thai cuisine, including spicy drunken noodles and signature dishes like Devil’s Chicken and Angel Shrimp (get it?), but don’t overlook the sushi. Polish it off with fried bananas or tempura ice cream. 4901 Broadway, (210) 822-3253, monsthai.com.

Sarika’s Thai and Sushi The Pad King or the Pad Thai are safe bets, but don’t be afraid to try the sirashi bowls or curries. The sushi ain’t bad either. 9620 Huebner, Ste 109, (210) 877-0888.

Thai Chili Curries, fish and noodle dishes in over 30 authentic varieties make this Thai spot, with locations off Thousand Oaks and Stone Oak, the ultimate in healthy pan-Asian cooking. Try the Phad Prik Khing, or Tod Mun Pla. Multiple locations, thaichili.net.

Thai Dee Always a contender of Best Thai in our Best of San Antonio readers poll, Thai Dee serves up what we once described as “ridiculously good, huge dishes at rock-bottom prices.” Check the specials for truly authentic dishes and remember to BYOB. 5307 Blanco Road, (210) 342-3622, thaideesa.com.

Thai Pikul Restaurant A Medical Center favorite, Thai Pikul scores with the homemade curries and Koanom Jeeb dumplings. The spice-heat runs 1-5; go with 4 unless you plan to add condiments, such as chile-laced fish sauce. 5136 Fredericksburg Road, (210) 524-9440, thaipikul.com.

Thai Spice Don’t go hungry at the Forum. The soup, generously endowed with rough dumplings of ground chicken, is unusually good — especially if you sneak in a little chili-spiked fish sauce when the waitresses, all clad in traditional garb, aren’t looking. 8327 Agora Pkwy., (210) 658-1665, thaispicesa.com.

Tong’s Thai Restaurant Eclectic, upscale tiki atmosphere welcomes you to this Alamo Heights fave. Tong’s Thai offers several vegetarian dishes, a critically acclaimed lemongrass curry, a large beer and wine selection, and a funky bubble tea room. 1146 Austin Hwy., (210) 829-7345, tongsthai.com. 

Yaya’s Thai Restaurant and Sushi Bar This eatery has branches off Potranco, McCullough and Callaghan. The Thai pantheon stands out by virtue of its Panang curry with New York strip, the veggie-packed pad woon sen and fresh, well-seasoned apps like the lemongrass-packed fish cakes and the crisp, carefully fried spring rolls. Multiple locations, yayasthai.com.

click to enlarge Pho Ha Long - LIZ WARBURTON
  • liz warburton
  • Pho Ha Long

Vietnamese

4 Star Vietnamese and Chinese Known for their large portion sizes, 4 Star’s kitchen serves up heaping helpings of fragrant pho and lemon chicken. The restaurant isn’t afraid to cross borders, as evidenced by Chinese and Thai dishes — particularly their popular pad Thai option. Multiple locations, pho4star.com.

Berni Vietnamese Service is speedy, and servings are massive at this spotless Vietnamese joint off Wurzbach that ends your meal with a warm bowl of tapioca. 8742 Wurzbach Road, (210) 485-5982.

French Sandwiches Tucked away in the same shopping center that houses India Palace is French Sandwiches with its hearty, leafy French Vietnamese sandwiches and excellent soups and salads. Don’t miss the grilled pork sandwich or the French onion soup. 8448 Fredericksburg, (210) 692-7019.

Heavenly Pho Big appetites should go for the No. 1 with beef noodle soup with eye round steak, brisket, rare flank, tendon, tripe and meatball. Settle in for a bit of cloud 9. 19178 Blanco Road, Suite 305, (210) 545-3553, heavenlypho.com.

Lien Hung Don’t expect much out of the atmosphere but try the roasted meatballs, the No. 8 pho with wonton dumplings, shrimp, pork and more, and indulge your adventurous side with frog legs in lemongrass with garlic and chili. Don’t forget to bring cash! 280 Remount, (210) 599-7075.

Pho Cong Ly Adventurers who dare rub lips with a little “soft tendon” in their bath of noodle soup (found under “fortifying combos” on the menu) will be rewarded with a tongue tingle worth remembering. But there are also “safe” dishes to choose from, so there’s something for every palate. 300 W. Bitters Road, (210) 499-5572.

Pho Ha Long It seems that Pho Ha Long’s found a secret formula for keeping Alamo City slurpers happy. We’re particularly partial to the No. 10 with round eye steak, lean flank and chewy tendon, but if you’re looking for a spicy variation, dining companions recommend the No. 45 bún bò huê with spicy beef soup. Wake up with one of their Vietnamese coffees. 6424 NW Loop 410, (210) 521-4507.

Pho Kim Long Get the giggles out of the way before you head to Pho Kim Long. The joint carries pho favorites in massive bowls, vermicelli bun and Vietnamese sandwiches on soft bollilos. The lunch game is on-pointe. 4230 McCullough Ave., (210) 829-8021

Viet Nam Restaurant Albeit a name change in recent years, Viet Nam went back to the original moniker and continues to offer clay pots and banh xeo for the purist, and decadent spring rolls and richly accessorized pho for mainstream Asian dabblers. 3244 Broadway, (210) 822-7461.

Suck It The Restaurant Vietnamese, Japanese, Chinese, and a dash of puro San Anto make up this Medical Center eatery that wows guests with over-the-top teas.  7220 Louis Pasteur Drive, Suite 125, (210) 560-2113, Facebook.com/suckittherestaurant.

Viva Pho Vietnamese Cuisine and Teabo Lounge In the way of pho, Viva presents 10 variations of the much-loved comfort food. Hearty portions of the civilly priced soups come with filet mignon, brisket, tendon, tripe, meatballs, flank steak, or eye round, plus a few combinations of these. 2114 NW Military Hwy., (210) 525-8388, vivapho.com.



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