I’m Korean-American, my Mr. is Taiwanese-American and we love Asian food. Asian food is important to us. That’s why when I think about moving to Santa Barbara, I start to get a little worried. There’s not a lot of Asian food in SB. Sure, there’s always a random Chinese restaurant wherever you go (read Fortune Cookie Chronicles if you’re interested in this topic) and I saw a tiny, slightly scary Asian grocery store somewhere but let’s face it, we’ve got it good in Boston. It’s no LA or NYC but there are H-Marts, mom and pop grocery stores and tons of Asian restaurants around here. I’m going to have to up my Asian cooking game once we’re in SB. We’ll also have to invest in a good cooler for Asian grocery shopping trips to LA. Oh gosh. What are we going to do… This week will be a parade of some of my favorite Asian restaurants in Boston. Farewell old friends. I’ll miss you so much.
First up, Blue Asia. Let me say right off the bat that this is not fancy, sophisticated dining. It caters to the college crowd in Allston so it’s cheap, fast, and homey. This is comforting, reliable, good food, a mix of Taiwanese with a splash of Korean. Perfect for us! It may not look like much and like I said, the menu is simple but it just makes me so happy. The Toyota dealership is right down the street so this place became a part of our oil change routine. I doubt anyone looked forward to oil changes as much as I did.
Menu items include a variety of soups (including beef noodle), Shin ramen (with extras), little appetizers and a huge selection of rice plates.
A must have is the Salt & Pepper Fried Chicken with Basil. Tiny bites of hot, juicy chicken coated in the thinnest breading, deep fried with basil and sprinkled with salt, pepper and five spice powder. It’s fried crack. Back at UIUC, we had a bubble tea cafe that sold this same dish. After a long night of bar hopping, we’d stop by for a bubble tea and gobble up plates of this stuff. Since then, I’ve searched high and low for a salt and pepper fried chicken as good as EVO’s. Blue Asia’s is the closest I’ve had. Each time I take a bite, I’m transported back to smokey bars, low rise jeans, honeydew milk tea, Green Street, blue hair and 606 parties. It’s magical.
My favorite is the General Gao’s Tofu over Rice. The sauce is sticky, sweet, salty and spicy all at the same time. I love the sides! I think it’s the sides that make it feel so homey to me. Corn and green beans are my favorite but sometimes you’ll get cabbage instead of the green beans which is tasty too.
My Mr. generally goes for the Fried Pork Tenderloin with Apple Curry over Rice. You get a huge amount of pork which makes my Mr. happy. Usually the rice plates come with a ladle of pork sauce over the rice but I always decline and they skip it on the curry plates since the flavors wouldn’t blend well.
The portions are great. We’re always wonderfully full and we have enough for lunch the next day.
Blue Asia is (from what I can tell) run by two women who work their butts off and are generous with their smiles and welcomes. I always feel so well cared for here and so do the students who fill the place. Watching them work, you get the sense that they want to bring in and take care of all the students who are far from home and their families and are missing comforting, familiar food.