#152: Asian Bliss

Some time ago I noticed that Mongolian Bliss had been replaced by a new restaurant called Asian Bliss.  I thought it might be the same restaurant with a branding change, but it looks to be something entirely different.  They conveniently kept the “Bliss” portion of the sign and added “Asian” with a little sun to make up the extra space since Mongolian was much longer, and the color changed to green.

I met up with my parents for dinner at 6PM tonight.  We headed inside and it was clear that they had very minimal work to do in changing over the dining room, as in almost none.  It’s basically identical.  The kitchen is a different story.  I imagine removing the circular grill and changing out the buffet counter for a regular one took a little effort.  We were the only customers when we entered, and just one other person came in briefly to pick up a to go order while we were there.  Very, very quiet for a Friday night.  We were greeted immediately by pretty much the only employee I saw.  I caught a quick glimpse of someone back in the kitchen once, but other than that it was just the four of us up front.  He had us sit anywhere we liked and we took a booth near the front.  He brought us waters in neon-blue plastic cups and my dad asked about the beer selection, which he listed off quickly.  They had about 4 or 5 to choose from, half domestic and half Japanese, all bottled I believe.  Back past the counter you can see a series of shelves with one of each on display.  He went with a Kirin, which was brought out quickly in a cold glass.

The menu is quite small, evenly divided between appetizers, small plates, full entrees and rolls.  A lot of it is on the Japanese side of the Asian spectrum, with Udon noodles, Teriyaki, Bento boxes and rolls.  They have a few other items like Korean BBQ, Thai chicken and a Mongolian dish.  We pretty quickly decided on our entrees.  We ordered an appetizer of mixed tempura[$8.95] which he got started immediately, then returned for our main food order.  The tempura arrived within 5 minutes and was very hot, as it usually is everywhere.  A massive onion ring topped a selection of veggies and shrimp.  Potato, carrot, squash and broccoli were found., maybe one or two others.  We thought initially that they didn’t serve it with dipping sauce, but he returned immediately with the little dish.  As with most places that serve this, it was pretty solid.  It’s hard to mess up tempura (I’m guessing).

Ten minutes later he brought out salads.  My parents each ordered a roll and a side salad[$2].  I had ordered the Korean BBQ[$12.95] which included the same side salad.  Like Blue Nami or other sushi places, the dressing was creamy, yet light and sweet.  This consisted of crisp lettuce, cucumbers, carrots and broccoli.  It was great.  The rolls came out at about the same time and were relegated to the center of the table while the salads were worked on.  My Korean BBQ came about a minute later and I ate them side by side.  My parents both said they really liked the rolls.  They were the RedRose Roll (Crab meat, avocado, cucumber, carrot, spicy tuna with sauce and green onion)[$11.45] and the Dragon Roll (Crab meat, cucumber, avocado, smoked shrimp with sauce and tobiko)[$11.45].  I had a few bites of the Dragon roll which was pretty good.  The smoked shrimp seemed just like regular tempura shrimp to me and had a nice crunch to it.

My Korean BBQ was kalbi – marinated and grilled short ribs.  Served up with a side of rice, this was a pile of thin sliced beef on the bone.  Eating this with chopsticks served to be quote a challenge, and I ended up picking up each piece by hand, grabbing it by the bone.  It was messy, but much easier.  The very first piece I picked up had some fairly tough, chewy bits on it.  Every piece after that, however, was incredibly tender and mostly came right off the bone with very little effort.  The meat was fantastically flavorful and had a sweet but savory, teriyaki-like flavoring to it.  The rice was not as soft as I expected.  A little soy sauce over top and this was a nice side.

Overall we were pretty impressed with this little restaurant.  Our server was on top of things (as you would expect being the only customers), refilling waters and checking up on us routinely.  I think it was just a touch on the pricey side, but that’s really the only small negative I can think of.  It’s sad to see a somewhat different yet tasty Mongolian place disappear, but this is a worthy replacement.  I hope they get some more customers and stick around for longer than Mongolian Bliss!

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