Yum Yum Noodle Bar’s Pork Tan Tan Noodles. Photograph by Jennifer May
It’s a culinary universe so ancient and intermingled that it’s hard to trace where one cuisine ends and another begins. Yet each of the national varieties of Asian food has its own distinctive taste.
Here in the Valley, as elsewhere, Asian food is on a roll. Whether this is a result of our ready access to New York City or the influx of Asian immigrants — due, in part, to the local tech culture — we’re seeing exciting new eateries opening up.
It seems that chefs, Asian and non-Asian alike, are smitten by this cuisine’s seemingly endless combination of spices and ingredients, inspiring them to play and explore and throw out the rule book. Noodle bars are springing up with inventive menus; Korean food has gone mainstream, as evidenced by the popular PBS show The Kimchi Chronicles; dim sum has come to Beacon; and dumplings — the real, super-fresh ones that are less about the dough than the delectable filling — have taken center stage. Ingredients are also increasingly available: Asian markets are everywhere and area supermarkets are stocking more Asian items, so home cooks can take a stab at preparing these unique recipes.
If your experience with Asian food begins and ends with hole-in-the-wall Chinese take-out and the occasional chicken-on-a-stick Japanese offered in the mall, then get ready — you are in for an eye-opening culinary experience.