photography Douglas Merriam

Miyake, Portland
Ceviche Roll. Owner-Chef Masa Miyake.

Miyake

How would you describe your cuisine?
Miyake is a Japanese restaurant. There are a lot of traditional Japanese preparations such as sushi, sashimi, binchotan grilled meats and fishes and Japanese menu styles such as our lunchtime bento box and tei shoku menu and dinnertime omakase tasting menu. While the menu is ultimately Japanese, Owner-Chef Masa Miyake was also trained in Italian and French cooking, so you will sometimes see those influences in some of his dishes. While Miyake does offer some “Miyake-style” rolls, you will not find some of the more popular Americanized sushi rolls like the California Roll or the Spider Roll.

What are your three most popular dishes?
Some of our most popular dishes are the Yaki Buta (braised Miyake Farm pork belly), the Gindara (miso-marinated grilled black cod), the Super Toro and Lobster Rolls and, of course, our omakase. Also our lunchtime bento box.

Miyake
468 Fore St.
Portland
(207) 871-9170
MiyakeRestaurants.com

. . .

Empire Chinese, Maine
Lobster Longevity Noodles.

Empire Chinese Kitchen

How would you describe the Asian cuisine at your restaurant?
Our menu is mostly Cantonese cooking, with some nods toward Szechuan and Indo-Malaysian styles as well. We get creative with some fusion dishes like the Empire Eggroll (with pastrami, peppered cabbage and asparagus served with honey Dijon), but we mostly stick to traditional recipes.

What are your three most popular dishes?
Since day one, the wok-fried Garlic Green Beans have been our best-selling dish by a landslide. Also incredibly popular among customers and staff are the Honey Walnut Shrimp. The crispy jumbo shrimp with citrus Kewpie mayonnaise and crunchy praline walnuts are decadent enough to have as a meal finisher. Last, you can’t beat the comfort of our Kung Pao Chicken—saucy stir-fried chicken, with just the right amount of heat, on a bed of waxy egg noodles with charred bean sprouts. And an honorable nod goes to our juicy Pork Pot Stickers.

Empire Chinese Kitchen
575 Congress St.
Portland
(207) 747-5063
PortlandEmpire.com

. . .

The Honey Paw, Portland
Fried Smoked Beef Tongue with wild rice noodles, dried shrimp, cilantro, curry peanut and preserved radish. Chef de Cuisine Lars Taylor.

The Honey Paw

How would you describe your cuisine? Is it fusion?
I would say that most American restaurants could fall under the category of fusion. The cultural diversity of this country has ensured that we have developed a vast repertoire of culinary influences, drawing from many different places. The term itself has developed a negative connotation over the years, possibly because many restaurants have failed to merge different cuisines in a thoughtful manner. At The Honey Paw, we strive to draw inspiration from previous knowledge and experiences to create dishes in which the ingredients work well together in new and exciting ways.

What are your three most popular dishes?
I would say the Lobster Wontons, Vietnamese Masa Crepe and the Khao Soi are our most popular dishes. The Lobster Wontons are our handmade wonton wrappers filled with lobster and scallop and served with miso dashi and pickled kombu. The Vietnamese Masa Crepe is a play on Bánh Xèo, a savory pancake made with rice flour and turmeric. In our version, we substitute local masa flour for some of the rice flour and serve it with a spicy tomatillo sambal and fried Bangs Island mussels. The Khao Soi is our take on a Northern Thai classic. We take whole lamb from nearby North Star Sheep Farm and smoke and braise it in a stock made from the bones. We then build the base of the curry with that same stock, coconut milk and a fragrant chili paste. The smoked lamb and coconut curry is then ladled over handmade egg noodles and topped with fermented mustard greens and crispy fried noodles.

The Honey Paw
78 Middle St.
Portland
(207) 774-8538
TheHoneyPaw.com

. . .

Lemongrass, Brunswick
Chef/Co-Owner Alan Hoang. Bun Cha Hanoi: Grilled barbecue pork, noodles, bean sprouts, pickled carrots, daikon and mango.

Lemongrass

How would you describe your cuisine?
Fresh, flavorful traditional Vietnamese cuisine with a few twists.

What are your three most popular dishes?
Pho, Lemongrass Coconut Peanut Delight and Hanoi Barbecue Pork.

Lemongrass
212 East Maine St.
Brunswick
(207) 725-9008
LemongrassMe.com

. . .

BaoBao Dumpling House, Portland
Owner-Executive Chef Cara Stadler. Bang Bang Chicken with cucumbers and scallions with a sesame chili dressing.

BaoBao Dumpling House & Tao Yuan

How would you describe the Asian cuisine at your restaurant?
We dabble in the cuisines of many countries and regions. Sometimes we lean heavily toward one genre if we’ve recently visited the country, or if we’re really into one style of food at the time. The only time we aim to be true to regional dishes is during our Sunday dinner series that we do January through May at Tao Yuan. BaoBao tends to be more Chinese, but there is definitely wiggle room on the menu to introduce flavors from other places; that can mean really fun American influenced buffalo chicken open faced buns, or something classically French or Japanese.

What are your three most popular dishes?
Asian Slaw, Grandma Tang’s Roast Pork Buns, any of the dumplings.

BaoBao Dumpling House
133 Spring St., Portland, (207) 772-8400
BaoBaoDumplingHouse.com

Tao Yuan
22 Pleasant St., Brunswick, (207) 725-9002
Tao-Yuan.me

. . .

Sichuan Kitchen, Portland
Sichuan Poached Fish. (photo Jake Berube)

Sichuan Kitchen

How would you describe your cuisine?
We serve authentic Sichuan food with an emphasis on traditional flavors.

Is your cuisine seasonal? What ingredients are featured?
I wouldn’t say that it is seasonal. When most people think of Sichuan food, they think of chili oil and peppercorn. If that is all that you are tasting in all of your dishes, I would say that is “unauthentic” Sichuan cuisine. We have a limited menu of 20 items and focus on all of them. Each has its own unique taste. So far, the Zhong Dumplings, the Fish with Pickled Greens and the infamous Double-Cooked Pork have been well received.

Sichuan Kitchen
612 Congress St.
Portland
(207) 536-7226
SichuanKitchenPortland.com

. . .

ZEST also recommends:

Anju Noodle Bar
Asian-style cuisine
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(207) 703-4298
AnjuNoodleBar.com

Tempo Dulu
Southeast Asian cuisine
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Portland
(207) 879-8755
TempoDulu.restaurant

Boda
Thai cuisine
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Portland
(207) 347-7557
BodaMaine.com

Best Thai I
Thai
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Damariscotta
(207) 563-1440
BestThaiMaine.com

Green Elephant
Vegetarian Asian Fusion
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Portland
(207) 347-3111
GreenElephantMaine.com

Laan-Xang Café
Laotian/Thai
19 Main St.
Belfast
(207) 338-6338
LaanxangCafe.com

Long Grain
Thai cuisine
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(207) 236-9001
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