Chef Tai Tok, owner of StreetFood Asia and StreetFood Market, is making quite a culinary splash these days by bringing an Asian concept never seen before in my taste trek wanderings. A native of Malaysia, he introduces a medley of Asian cuisines into one inclusive though extensive menu.
Whether Malaysian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai or Vietnamese, he keeps the cuisines distinctive, tasty, and authentic to this region of the world. How does he do it? By offering 7 different wok Asian broths, 3 different Asian curries, and 6 different wok Asian flavors. And when it comes to lobster – a house specialty – you can have it steamed and served with butter or coconut-battered in addition to 16 other flavorings. That’s a lot of food flavors, seasonings and choices.
StreetFood Asia is located in the trendy neighborhood of Nob Hill, the cultural and voguish hub of Albuquerque. With large picture windows overlooking Old Route 66, the Asian bistro serves up sumptuous and generous portions that easily make for another take-home meal. If this is your first visit, the best way to try the different ethnic dishes is by ordering the appetizers or samplers.
The diverse menu almost guarantees that there’s something for everyone – so it makes for a great venue for large group celebrations. The menu can also be customized for vegetarians and gluten-free eaters. Just let your waiter know before you order. Plus, if you have an aversion to an ingredient like I do with green bell peppers, just let them know. Likewise for substitutions.
Also, after browsing the menu it will be obvious that the different city streets indicate the different Asian foods. From Beijing Street (Chinese), Kuala Lumpur Street (Malay), Tokyo Street (Japanese) Seoul Street (Korean), Bangkok Street (Thai), to Saigon Street (Vietnamese), they are easily labeled on the menus and identified with the specific ingredients and cooking style. That translates into great Asian street food dishes such as Vietnamese pho, Korean BBQ, Malay satay, Japanese udon, and Chinese stir-fry. And you can have any of them conveniently in one place.
Don’t be alarmed by the voluminous menu offerings. Focus instead on whether you want to order a seafood specialty, small plates, dumpling bar, wok fried noodles, noodle soup, curries, Kuala Lumpur Street satay bar, or salads.
Though I didn’t have room to try any of the salads, each of the four menu items were equally inviting: Saigon street vermicelli salad, Bangkok street papaya salad, Kuala Lumpur street tofu salad, and Tokyo street salad. As if that isn’t enough, the four different salads can have different protein choices cooked in the street style of preference. Four different reasons why I need to come back.
StreetFood Asia also has daily features such as orange sesame chicken, sriracha chicken, Mongolian beef, grilled chile tofu and Portobello, grilled spare or short ribs, and fried coconut chicken.
1. Dumpling Sampler – From the streets of Seoul and Beijing come vegetable and chicken dumplings that can be steamed, pan seared or crispy along with grilled beef bulgogi bao, shrimp cilantro, BBQ pork, and chicken bao.
2. Char Kway Teow (Kuala Lumpur Street) – This is a wok-seared fresh wide rice noodle dish with a mixture of eggs, garlic, and rice wine. Vegetables are yellow onions, bell peppers, bean sprouts, green onions, spinach, and tofu with seasonings that include Malay sambal tamarind, spicy chili paste, Thai chilis, kecap manis, basil, and lemon grass. The House, otherwise known as the special edition, includes shrimp and Chinese Lap Cheong sausage. The dish presented with a textured yet layered profiled. I absolutely loved the dish but wasn’t as wild about the Chinese sausage.
3. Malay Curry Laksa (Kuala Lumpur Street) – This award-winning soup is a tantalizing mixture of Chinese vermicelli rice noodles, spicy Malay coconut curry chicken broth, basil, spinach, bean sprouts and cilantro. The house version comes with the addition of shrimp, calamari, and stuffed shrimp tofu. The flavor profile is complex, sensuous, with a distinctive depth to each ingredient.
4. Grill Sampler – Inspired by streets in Bangkok, Beijing, and Seoul, the sampler is a meat-eater’s delight with chicken wings, pork spare ribs, and beef short rib kalbi – all grilled to perfection. (The chef let me in on a secret that a mutual celebrity chef we both know from Santa Fe loves to dine on the specialty ribs!)
5. Seafood Lobster Combo – A house specialty and fan favorite, the seafood medley includes lobster tail (or whole if preferred), salmon, jumbo shrimp, calamari steak strips, clams, and mussels. My combo was fresh, succulent and bursting with a sapid profile. The dish can be made with 16 different flavors and prepared steamed and served with butter or coconut-battered. The choices are yours to make.
As might be expected, specialty drinks are available from a separate menu, including their house famous lemonade. (They also have a delicious freshly-made limeade, my favorite.) Also, an extensive selection of green, black, herbal, white, and oolong teas make sure you don’t leave thirsty.
Save room for dessert, as the hot sesame balls with red bean paste are absolutely divine – the best I’ve ever had, and believe me, I’ve had a few. (Sesame balls should always be eaten while they are warm as they do not reheat well).
If in Albuquerque, do yourself a favor by trying the six Asian flavors at StreetFood Asia. As Chef Tai Tok says, “Nobody does what we do anywhere in the country, so you need to come here.” Your taste buds will thank you.
3422 Central Avenue, SE
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87106