Four new favorites for Asian cuisine

New hot spots offer an infusion of flavors, experiences
Broad Leaf West Side. Photos by Tylee Shay

Muleler? Muleler?
There are a slew of new restaurants dotting the GR landscape, many – if not most – serving Asian fusion cuisine. A standout amongst them, not only because of the bao buns on the menu, but because of the craft spirits and beer they serve and the stellar 443 Bridge St. NW location, is Broad Leaf Westside.

Broad Leaf’s Ferris Muleler and appetizers. Photo by Tylee Shay

This progressive craft brewery offers award winning gin, cocktail slushies, burgers and so much more. It’s the third bar/restaurant for the team that brought us Brewery Vivant and Broad Leaf Brewery & Spirits in Kentwood (which also serves some fine Asian fare). For those unfamiliar, bao buns (or simply “bao/包”) are steamed doughy creations made of wheat flour and filled with savory or sweet fillings. Broad Leaf’s pork belly bao with pickles and a spicy sauce recently served as a fantastic happy hour snack to go along with my favorite new beer, a golden stout called Peppermint Element. If it’s a stiffer drink you’re after, the Ferris Muleler is the best mule I’ve had yet in GR.

Dim sum and then some
In the space formerly occupied by Foo Yen, 2230 Wealthy St, in East Grand Rapids, which offered an extensive menu of traditional Chinese food years, Pink Piggy promises to fill its shoes and then some. In addition to well-known traditional Chinese fare, the menu offers a load of trendy boba teas, Vietnamese coffee, Malaysian MILO and a host of menu items that deviate from the norm. For example, the scallion pancakes are served with a Peruvian-inspired creamy cilantro dipping sauce. Other eclectic items include lumpia (Filipino style spring rolls), Piggy Rangoon (sans the imitation krab), house special potstickers (delicious and the owner’s mother’s recipe) and some curiously monikered sandwiches served on bao buns called, “Piggy Pillow Talk.” The menu also features cold Beijing noodles and a half-dozen or more familiar chicken entrees: sweet and sour, orange, sesame, General Tso’s, Kung Pao. The EGR establishment’s menu also includes a decent selection of braised beef and pork offerings.

For the love of fusion
With a name like Noodle Pig, is it any wonder that when this ramen restaurant, located at 601 Bond Ave. NW in the North Monroe Business District, opened its doors to the public, it sold out so quickly it had to shut its doors for a beat to regroup? This beloved noodle shop offers sit-down service and noodles to go, but if you want them to-go you have to answer a couple of questions first. One is, “Are you going to eat them right away?” If the answer is no, then you’ll be asked, “How far are you going to travel before eating them?” This info is used to determine how the order is packaged to preserve the integrity of the meal. You’ve got to love that commitment to quality. Ramen noodles are not meant to soak in the broth for too long, lest they lose their desired consistency. For some traditional Japanese ramen try the Shio 42. To experience fusion at its finest, the shop boasts as its flagship dish, “Zessan Tonkotsu, where Japan meets the Midwest.” My personal favorite is the Mexican inspired Pork Pozole. All noodles are house made and the various dishes can be spiced up for those who like it hot.

Fire! Fire!
While many lovers of Italian cuisine may be saddened to see Osteria Rossa go, a new hibachi style steakhouse that took over the 16 Monroe Center NE location promises to provide restaurant goers with a new experience in downtown Grand Rapids. Nagoya Hibachi Steak House & Sushi offers the type of spectator driven food preparation that has generally been relegated to the outskirts, near the shopping malls. The word, “hibachi” literally means “fire bowl” in Japanese and refers to a method of preparing food in a ceramic vessel filled with wood or charcoal. In modern restaurants electricity is generally used to heat the grill, but the name stuck. If you’ve never been to a hibachi restaurant, the setup is pretty neat. Guests are seated around a grill that serves as a stage, of sorts. A chef offers each guest a feast for the eyes, as well as the taste buds, with performances that can include cracking an egg over a metal spatula in midair, and always, as the name suggests, includes plenty of dazzling flames.

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