BUFFALO, N.Y. (Buffalo Rising) | When I first heard that Street Asian Food was opening on the 500 Block of Elmwood, I was cautiously optimistic. The city of Buffalo has a tough time landing good Asian food for some reason. Most of the places around are the typical dumbed down Chinese restaurants that are old and tired, and very uninspired. Street Asian Food has taken up residence in a small, limited seating restaurant at 516 Elmwood Avenue.
Since the eatery is mainly geared for take-out, I figured that was exactly what I would do. Seeing that we hadn’t eaten much that day, I decided to take the ordering into my own hands for myself and my wife. This was going to be a true test, because honestly, I couldn’t handle any more underwhelming Asian food in my neighborhood. So I called in for an order of beef samosa (3), Vietnamese phở soup (veggie), a General Tso’s chicken (hot), a Burmese fried rice (veggie – medium hot), a ginger salad, and fresh spring rolls (2).
Half an hour later, I swung by the restaurant to pick up the order. The interior of Street Asian Food is actually quite nice, compared to a lot of the other uninspired Asian joints throughout the city, which pretty much all look, and taste, the same. Not this place. First off, the woman behind the counter was extremely pleasant, and greeted me with a nice, warm, welcome smile and hello. Off to a good start. There were a couple of people eating in, but most of the orders were delivery. I grabbed my two bundles and headed out the door.
Upon unpacking the food, I could tell that we were in for a good dinner, thankfully. Everything looked so good, that we decided to not eat out of the take-out containers. Rather, we scooped everything onto plates, and into bowls (except for the sauces). Once everything was set, I looked at all of the plastic, and thought, “How will this planet ever survive?” Thankfully, most of it could be reused and recycled. In the end, we had a wonderful looking, and smelling, feast in front of us.
Right off the bat, I could not help but notice that the General Tso’s chicken appeared to be glowing a fiery color. I was hoping that that was a good sign, and it was going to pack a little heat, but that was definitely not the case… at all. While the dish was flavorful and delicious, no fat or grizzle, not overly sweet, with perfectly cooked broccoli, there was not a smidgen of heat. I even asked for it spiced at the “hot” level. Oh well, at least it was tastier than most General Tso’s around town. I will try it again and ask for it super hot, to see if they can eek out a semblance of heat.
For my wife, the winner was the Burmese fried rice. While I did not warm up to it because it smelled like pad Thai (that pungent fish sauce), she swooned over it. The rice was a big hit. It was not dry, which can usually be the case. There were lots of different ingredients (flavorful onion, green bean, red bell pepper, zucchini, cabbage, and egg) to entertain the palate, and it was perfectly cooked… but once again, there was zero heat.
As for the spring rolls, they were good, but if you’ve had them once, you’ve had them a thousand times. The real winner here was the samosas (beef, potato, and pea with an awesome homemade dipping sauce). They were probably the best that we have ever had in Buffalo. The flavorful and warm curry-tinged filling was out of this world, served steaming warm, and not overly fried. Perfection.
I thought that the ginger salad was pretty darn good too, but my wife wasn’t in the mood for it. Typically I would not go for something that was heavy in the lime category, but this was different. It was very refreshing, and nicely citrusy – the play on the various textures of crunch was a welcome addition to our spread. I especially liked the shredded fresh ginger, which went well with the lime, and balanced out the palate cleansing salad, nicely.
As for the Vietnamese phở soup, my wife said that she liked it, but was not crazy about it. She said that the noodles were overcooked for her taste, and were pretty much a tangled, gummy mess. She noted that the broth was indeed clean, but not overly flavorful. As she was in the mood for something soupy, it was a welcome addition to the table. Finally, the meal came with everyday sticky white rice in a Chinese take-out container.
Ultimately, I would have to say that Street Asian Food is a big win for Elmwood, and for the city. I am very interested in sitting down at a table next time, because I want to try their black sushi rolls. I’m not a fan of ordering sushi to go because it’s always better served super fresh. And since the owners, Than Oo and and his wife Kapru Paw (Karen people of Burma), have some experience in this realm (Oo was a chef at Sun Restaurant for six years), I bet that the sushi alone is worth a visit.
If Street Asian Food can bring the heat next time, I might just have a new favorite place to eat in Buffalo.
Monday: 11 AM – 10 PM
Tuesday: 11 AM – 10 PM
Wednesday: 11 AM – 10 PM
Thursday: 11 AM – 10 PM
Friday: 11 AM – 12 AM
Saturday: 11 AM – 12 AM
Sunday: 4 PM – 10 PM