Asian Dining in Salem

~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.


Amecameca said...

Some good observations here, but why even bother with Salem Chinese/American food? If you know the real thing, isn't it basically inedible? It is for me. Fortunately you can get in your car and drive for an hour to the new Chinatown in Portland (82nd St.) and enjoy the real thing at places like Ocean City, Shenzhen, Good Taste Noodle House, etc. Or better yet, go for a long weekend to Richmond and Vancouver BC and eat yourself silly. We are less than a day away by car or train from some of the best Chinese food in North America.

Anonymous said...


Beka said...

I think inedible is a strong word. That usually means something that is not really meant for human consumption in my mind. Then again, Chinese/American food may taste inedible to people who are expecting authentic Chinese food. It really needs another name altogether so that it isn't confused with actual Chinese food. If what you are looking for is deep fried meat or some kind of basic vegetable/meat mixture, then Chinese/American might be completely edible to you.

Anonymous said...

Salem is sadly lacking in any type of Asian food. Even Eugene has more diversity in Asian food than Salem. It's not even worth critiquing the Asian food in Salem.

The tastebuds in Salem, like most of small town America, are bland. They can't handle the spiciness of "authentic" Asian food. Chinese food is a very diverse category and most Salem-ites probably can't tell the difference between Hunan, Szechuan, Taiwanese, Cantonese, et cetera, et cetera. Why bother when the overly sweet starchy fried carb is all that the consumer wants? It's unrealistic to expect "foodie" choices from struggling restaurants when the majority demands the sugar and oil.

Jia said...

I'm going here for lunch today. I'm very excited!

Amecameca said...

In reply to Anonymous 1/26: There are a few "Asian" restaurants in Salem that are not terrible --

Momiji (good miso soup and sushi)
Saigon Kitchen (good bahn mi and Pho)
Thai Beer Restaurant (used to be better, but still okay if you have a real hankering for Thai)