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Food recs: Kansas City's best Asian and Asian-inspired food

Chewology chef Katie Liu-Sung focused on handcrafted gyoza as her entrance to the Kansas City food scene because it was part of one of her fondest childhood memories, according to the Taiwanese street food restaurant's website.
Chewology chef Katie Liu-Sung focused on handcrafted gyoza as her entrance to the Kansas City food scene because it was part of one of her fondest childhood memories, according to the Taiwanese street food restaurant's website.

Whether it's Indian biryani, Chinese dim sum, Filipino lumpia, or Korean bibimbap, Kansas City’s diverse Asian food scene has you covered.

Kansas City might be known for its barbeque, but that’s not all this cow town has going for it. That’s especially true when it comes to the city’s diverse selection of Asian restaurants.

“There's probably an Asian restaurant of some sort in every single corner of this city,” said Jenny Vergara, columnist for IN Kansas City Magazine. “I heard somebody say once that Kansas City has about one of everything in terms of international cuisine, so I think that certainly holds true here.”

Carlton Logan is the co-administrator of the Kansas City Eats, Kansas City Eats Around the World and Kansas City Eats: Home Cookin’ Facebook pages. He told KCUR’s Up To Date on Friday there’s more than just Americanized Asian food here, too. Sometimes, he said, it pays off to ask (kindly) for a specific dish while dining out.

“It may not be on the menu, or they may have it on a separate menu,” he said.

Below Vergara, Logan and Natasha Bailey, executive chef of Thelma’s Kitchen, share their favorite spots to get South, Southeast and East Asian food in Kansas City.

Jenny Vergara, Hungry For MO:

  • Hong Kong Star Roast Duck. Hong Kong Star is a small but busy place that walks the line by offering Chinese-American dishes and what they call “authentic Chinese” dishes. Get the Roast Duck, served with housemade duck sauce, rice and vegetables for an extra charge. You can order a whole or half duck depending on how hungry you are.
  • Chewology — Taiwanese Beef Noodle. Chef Katie Liu-Sung serves her signature Taiwanese street food along with a playful list of cocktails. I get her pork and cabbage gyoza dumplings to start, then her Taiwanese Beef Noodle Bowl, with slow-cooked beef shank, pickled mustard relish, bok choy and a chili bomb for spice.
  • Chosun Korean BBQ — Haemul Pajeon. They cook traditional beef, pork and seafood on grills set into your table. Go for the Korean barbecue experience, and start with the Haemul Pajeon, a savory seafood pancake packed with scallions or green onions and bits of shrimp and octopus.
  • Chingu — Bossam. This cocktail-driven, full-service restaurant and bar serves Korean street food, barbecue, and home cooking. The Bossam is a family-style platter piled high with napa cabbage and pork belly; guests can make their own wraps.
  • Sichuan Dynasty — Dry Hot Pot. This spot is known for its strategic use of spice (it comes from a combination of chilies, garlic, fermented bean paste and a spicy peppercorn that can numb your tongue when you first try it), and its signature dish comes to the table in a large bowl of stir-fried ingredients meant to be shared. Unlike regular hot pot there is no broth.
  • Sushi U.N.I — Spicy Crab Salad and Assorted Sashimi. They have a large selection of maki or sushi rolls, but I keep things simple and get the Assorted Sashimi platter that comes with the chef’s choice of sliced fresh fish. They also like to drop off a free crab salad during busy hours that I enjoy almost as much as the dinner.
  • Sohaila’s Kitchen — Chicken Biryani. Chef Sohalia Humayon serves Pakistani and Indian dishes. Fridays and Saturdays she makes her famous Chicken Biryani. It features basmati rice flavored with exotic spices, all layered in a thick gravy with chicken. Served with their Mint Yogurt Sauce.
  • Shagan’s— Thali. Shagan Bajwa now has two locations serving her delicious northern Indian thalis — metal plates with compartments for rice and two entrees. Her flavors are really good and she uses quality ingredients with both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes available.

Carlton Logan, Kansas City Eats:

  • Princess Garden is a favorite of many locals. Owned by the Chang family, the restaurant has been at its current location since the 1980s. Standouts on the menu include the pine nuts, steamed dumplings, spiced shredded beef Szechuan style, and pork with black bean sauce Hunan style.
  • Jasmine Garden — Lunch Specials. It’s important to locate a favorite Chinese restaurant close to home and work. For me, that’s Jasmine Garden. The lunch special comes with an entree, soup and egg roll or crab rangoon. I also like ordering the steamed dumplings and dragon rolls — think: crab rangoon meets shrimp.
  • Bo Lings — Steamed Soup Dumplings. Also known as xiao long bao, these purse-shaped bits of dough are filled with soup and pork meatballs, so be careful with the first bite!
  • Tao Tao — Springfield Cashew Chicken. Chef Annie Der and her family have been in business for 50 years! She and her daughter Tina are warm, friendly and appreciative of their customers. Consider trying the savory and sweet rangoons.
  • Manila Bay Express serves authentic Filipino fare like pancit noodle dishes, a pork and chicken dish called sisig, broasted chicken and lumpia, which resemble spring rolls.
  • 92 Chicken andCM Chicken Korean fried chicken. Both of these restaurants serve Korean fried chicken, which comes in various flavors and seasonings: original, sweet and sour (with gochujang), soy, green onion and honey.
  • K Street Hotdog in Overland Park serves Korean-style street food, including corn dogs, mozzarella sticks, crab Rangoon, Tornado Fries and more.
  • Thai House — pad thai. The fried calamari is served in bite size pieces. Spring rolls are presented beautifully with two sauces. All versions of their pad thai are wonderful, and the creme brulee cheesecake is delicious.
  • Anousone — Banh Mi and Khao Poon. The Bahn Mi sandwich is stuffed with fresh vegetables including cucumbers, carrots, cilantro, jalapeños and fast-pickled cucumbers. The Khao Poon has pulled pork in a red curry broth. It’s served on a bed of vermicelli noodles with shaved cabbage, long beans, banana blossoms and fresh herbs.

Natasha Bailey, Hungry For MO:

  • Waldo Thai — tempura shrimp tossed with garlic, black pepper and scallion. Head Chef Pam Liberda was just nominated for a James Beard Award. The menu serves northern Thai cuisine and includes shareables, so family-style is ideal. My favorite time to go is for Small Plate Wednesday.
  • Jun’s Restaurant— Salmon. This is a family celebration go-to with a wonderful happy hour. My favorite is the seared salmon topped with grilled shrimp and a lemon garlic butter miso sauce. Also the grilled yellowtail collar with a citrus ponzu sauce.
  • Kimchi and Bap — Bibimbap. When I go to Lenexa Public Market I get chef Lisa Hamblen’s japchae, bibimbap, kimchi, and anything else she has fermented — you name it, she’s got it!
  • ABC Cafe — dim sum. Growing up across the street, this restaurant has always been in my life. ABC Chicken, soft shell crab and all the dumplings are good options. Don’t forget the chicken wings.
  • Ting’s Filipino Bistro — Chicken Adobo. I could eat my weight in their lumpia — ground pork, garlic, onions, shredded carrots, wrapped in rice paper and deep fried. The Chicken Adobo has garlic, vinegar, and soy sauce, which makes for a delicious chicken dish.
  • Vietnam Cafe — Vietnam Cafe’s Style bun. This is a super casual place that’s great for groups and kids. My favorite dish is the Vietnam Cafe’s Style bun, a combination of pork, shrimp and egg roll on a bed of rice noodles with pickled veggies, herbs and crushed peanuts. This is my first stop when I’m not feeling well.

Listener recommendations:

  • Cozy Thai features a relaxed vibe with great food and friendly service.
  • Brookside Sushi offers an extensive menu of Japanese food in an airy space.
  • Blue Koi has a unique menu with items that can be hard to come by. A go-to is the Ginger Basil Chicken over noodles.
  • Thai Orchid specializes in massaman and panang curries and has many vegetarian options.
  • Fortune Wok offers wok-roasted shrimp and chicken, with large servings.
  • China Star serves Mongolian Beef, pepper steak, shrimp fried rice and more.
  • Kin Lin has casual dining and offers an extensive Chinese menu, including Cantonese, Taiwanese and Szechuanese dishes.
  • Spices is Asian fusion food with a modern feel.

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