Feast from the east
Off Steamboat Parkway, next to the Starbucks, is a paradise for Asian cuisine, including Thai, Chinese, Japanese and Korean food. This upscale eatery is the creation of Tony and Amanda Chang, who moved to the U.S. from Taiwan in 2008 and relocated from northern California to Reno, opening Asian Paradise in November 2012. The restaurant has a very nice décor and ambiance with padded booths, dark wood tables and chairs, and a bar that will hold a dozen.
There’s a lot on the menu ($9-$19), including standard Chinese fare, but there’s also a very creative and original special menu that caught my eye. Under the appetizers, a moon shrimp cake ($8) was a combination of shrimp, pork and cilantro in an egg roll skin sliced like a small pizza. I dipped it in a very elegant plum sauce and got a savory, minty sweet mouth full of taste bud pleasure.
Another special menu item I tried was the spicy fish fillet ($16). It was a Basa fish from the Mekong Delta of Vietnam, and it was a firm but flaky morsel that was coated with an amazing hot sauce. Besides red, yellow and green peppers, it was cooked in hot oil and the fish was dusted with black peppercorns. Ginger and those little crimson peppers about the size of the end of your pinky added a kick that made your mouth take notice. I can’t get over how well the fish held that savory hot flavor, and the consistency was really a treat for the palate—a black peppery satisfying sizzle for the saliva glands.
Changing direction on that special menu, I went for the Peking sauce pork ($13) because it was a sweet dish. The pork sits atop a bed of julienned green scallions and is wok fried with a Peking sauce. The dish originated from Beijing, China. Unlike Peking duck, it consists of boneless pork strips that are marinated in a sweet red sauce. The pork was firm and very moist, with a slightly sweet glaze that does not overwhelm the tenderness of the pork. You put the meat and some onions in rice flour pancakes and eat it mu-shu style. It was mildly sweet and savory and very satisfying. Tony Chang takes pride in the fact that many of the items on his menu are unique to his restaurant.
There is a small wine list with some nice reds and whites ($18-$25), and everything is sold by-the-glass ($5.50-$8.25). But it was a warm day and a cold beer always goes well with Asian food. All the beers are imported—one Mexican, the rest Asian—($4-$6). Four are on tap ($5-$5.50). There are also three sakes ($15-$28) and a plum wine ($14). I had a pint of the draft Asahi black from Japan ($5.50), a super dry, lager-style quaff. Its barley flavor and crisp aftertaste was a great choice for this food. It’s one of the driest beers I’ve ever had and I found it easy to drink and extremely quenching without being filling.
This diverse menu can facilitate anyone from a vegan to a carnivore, and there’s no MSG in any of the food. They’ve been doing take-out business and will deliver to a lot of the South Meadows
I finished with some red bean ice cream ($3). It’s a small, dark red adzuki bean from Japan and has a sweet, nutty flavor. This was creamy and had a caramel/vanilla taste, a very pleasing ender. Just when you’re bored of Chinese restaurants that are all chow mien and fried rice with no substance, this place might be your remedy. You’ll definitely find some razzle-dazzle on your plate.