~Post by Asia Guy
I also had a good experience at Smile BBQ, and agree with Chuck's review. The only addition I would add is, not unlike with Super Pho, I am very pleased to see some local Asian restaurants serving Americans their traditional dishes. They will succeed in doing so! If we could only get the Chinese restaurants to do the same instead of offering Chinese/American foods that they think Americans will like, or have liked in the past. I know that Mr Kwan knows how to cook the "real stuff", but we would rarely see that kind of food on the Kwan's menu. I dont know why.
Perhaps it is because there are not enough Asians to frequent the local Chinese restaurants to justify this type of cooking, or maybe it is as a result of not preparing authentic dishes that causes the Asians not to go. I do not blame them. Kind of the chicken and the egg thing. I do know that as we were leaving Smile BBQ last eve., some Korean couples were entering for dinner, and I consider that a very good sign of authentic food. My rule number one for judging a good an Asian restaurant is to check out what percentage of Asians are eating there. If there are lots, you have found yourself a gem, if there are none, or a low percentage, get out of there- quick!
That also creates a challenge for me in reviewing Chinese restaurants in Salem (the Vietnamese places in town are exempt from this challenge because, for the most part, they serve food similar to what you might find in Vietnam.). Do I review them for what they are(Chinese/American food) and rate them on that, or do I give them "both barrels" and blast them for not having the real thing. Bit of a problem, that.