mmm-yoso is a food blog usually written by Kirk, sometimes written by Cathy, but today written by ed (from Yuma).
Except for chain restaurants, I am usually willing to try any dining establishment at least once. But I do have a certain skepticism about restaurants that try to do too many things. I've never been tempted, for example, to stop into the Mexican Greek restaurant I see somewhere on the east side of San Diego County. Places that promise "oriental" or "Asian" food always make me want to ask if the chef is from somewhere close to the capital of Asia. In any case, that's my excuse for not going to Asian Star the first month or two that it was open. Better late than never.
I've already posted about the Chinese food at the restaurant, so this post is going to look at the other stuff available, such as this lunch sized order of pad thai ($6.55):
Overall, pretty boring. The sauce reminiscent of a sweet and sour sauce. The noodles and chicken also nothing special. Not nearly as good as the same dish at Highway 95 Café.
Mildly spicy, the dish has a true Thai basil flavor. The vegetables add crunch and variety. I would happily order it again.
It is really good. For one thing, look at all the chicken. This isn't curried vegetables with chicken; the focus is on the numerous tender slices of chicken. At the same time, strips of onion add flavor and crunch. Just enough peapods, carrots, and mushrooms in the background. The curry sauce is excellent – balanced spicy creamy flavors. And just enough sauce to flavor the entire dish without becoming soupy or goupy.
The broth usually has a good flavor with some depth and I am always impressed by the number of tofu cubes, seaweed pieces, and green onions slices. I have been served much worse in San Diego.
Though the mini mollusks have little flavor in themselves, their slightly chewy texture is nice and the tangy sauce is also pleasant. It just gives me a good feeling that I can order something this weird in Yuma.
The cynic in me noticed that a huge plate was being used to present the amount of poki that a Hawaiian would put in a small bowl. And a lot of daikon and slivered cucumber for the amount of tuna. But once I started eating, my cynicism melted away. The tuna was absolutely fresh. This was not the sashimi from three or four days earlier that had been marinating in the refrigerator. The ponzu sauce was nicely balanced. Tina and I loved the appetizer down to the last thin thread of radish.
While the California roll is decent, many of the other items in the box are pretty ordinary. I really do not like the lettuce with the flavorless gloppy dressing. The deep-fried shu mai are meh and the eggroll contributes little beyond crunch.
On this occasion, the salmon and tuna were perfectly adequate, and the tilapia was very fresh. By the standards of Yuma, Arizona, this was good raw fish, particularly for a bento box.
I was impressed. The sake was rich and flavorful, and the tuna tasted like decent sushi bar maguro.
On another visit, I decided to put Asian Star to a real test. Without looking at the raw fish case, I ordered some random items from the sushi menu. The few times that I have ordered sushi by the piece at other restaurants in Yuma – from fancy fine dining locations to Japanese chain restaurants – the results have been pretty disastrous.
The mackerel was quite good; better than I expected. The pale pinkfleshed fish was also very tasty, perfectly fresh and clean flavored. It was not, however, hamachi – at least not like any hamachi I had ever eaten before. Instead, it looked and tasted like light tuna (shiro maguro). My guess is that the sushi chef simply made a substitution without telling anyone. I suppose I could've gotten upset, but the fish was quite good, and it was being served to me in Yuma.
It is not greasy and the portion is adequate. On the other hand, notice that the shrimp have a different coating, more like a panko, from the vegetables. Overall, though, a pleasant enough dish.
The broth is very light in flavor, but the noodles are perfectly cooked and wonderfully juicy. The soup also contains shrimp, fish, and bay scallops, along with the noodles, fake crab, and poached egg.
This udon is very far from the best I've ever had, but it is the best I've had in Yuma.
The menu specials also include something called "Amazing Veal Chops, Korean Style" ($15.95). That puzzled me because I have never seen veal listed on any Asian menu before. Usually, veal dishes are native to countries with a strong dairy tradition – like Holland, Italy, Switzerland, and Austria. Not Korea. So I had to order it, of course:
This is dang good. The chop is large enough to be a beefsteak, more substantial than any vealchop I've ever seen in a local supermarket. Although this picture does not show it, it is cooked to a perfect medium rare – with a nice pinkish interior. The Korean barbecue sauce and the sliced peppers and onions add flavor. I can't imagine a steak loving carnivore not enjoying it. And in Yuma, most families include at least one steak loving carnivore.
Overall, I understand why Asian Star has become a very popular restaurant in Yuma. The prices are fair. The chefs tackle a wide range of Asian dishes and don't embarrass themselves. Some things, in fact, are quite good. Many are the best you can find locally. If you're in San Diego, don't hop in the car and drive over for this food. But if you are living in Yuma, like me, this is a restaurant you will enjoy.
Asian Star Oriental Cuisine, 276 W. 32nd St, Suite 1, Yuma AZ 85364, 928-317-9888, Open daily 11 am - 9:30 pm