For three decades, Chef Wong dominated a busy corner on Trindle Road and Sporting Hill Road in Hampden Township, satisfying the cravings of young and old with familiar Chinese dishes. When the owners of the eatery announced their retirement in December 2018, many feared that the area would never get a suitable replacement.
That is, until Tri Asian Taste moved into the building this past October.
Last Thursday around 6 p.m., my friend and I decided to give it a “tri” and easily found a parking space in its ample lot. Standing at the front of the restaurant welcoming customers was owner Nyunt Win, who runs the place with his wife Than, who serves as chef.
The 70-seat BYOB, with the bright, cheery décor is guaranteed to elicit a smile no matter how gloomy the weather may be outside. Bright yellow walls are festooned with scenes that remind the owners of their native country, like the mural along the back wall that depicts an annual water festival celebrating the New Year in Burma. Adding to the eye-catching tableau is an array of colorful umbrellas, which hang upside down from the ceiling, adding visual interest.
3 types of cuisine
The Wins, I must say, are rather ambitious when it comes to the array of options, which feature Thai, Burmese and Japanese dishes.
Japanese creations include a selection of raw and cooked sushi, nigiri and sashimi, with ingredients like salmon, shrimp, tuna and eel.
A larger part of the menu lists a wide selection of Thai dishes, with appetizers like chicken satay, summer rolls and chicken wings, along with a selection of hearty lettuce-free salads containing ingredients like beef, lime juice, noodles, chiles and papaya.
Those who enjoy the sweet taste of coconut milk are likely to love any of the curry dishes served with their choice of protein like pork, chicken and beef. There’s the green curry with green curry paste containing bell pepper, green chiles and onions served with string beans, zucchini, basil leaves and green peas, and the yellow curry with yellow curry paste containing notes of ginger, turmeric and cilantro and served with potatoes, carrots and onion.
There’s also panang curry, massaman curry and my choice, red curry (ordered with chicken) containing red curry paste flavored with red chiles, lemongrass and coriander and served with red peppers, zucchini, basil, red peppers and green peas ($13).
The Burmese section of the menu lists salads, which, once again, lack lettuce, but more than make up for the rather flavorless vegetable, with items like cabbage, cucumber and cilantro. My friend was intrigued and ordered Khauk Swe Thoke ($10).
Burmese appetizers include pork samosas, or my friend’s choice, TAT Morning, which earned its name because it is served in the morning for breakfast. The dish is comprised of fried paratha (flatbread), cooked white vatana peas and fried onion ($5).
Burmese stir-fried noodle dishes are, once again, served with the customer’s choice of protein and combined with ingredients like onion, broccoli, carrot and egg.
Those who are a little less adventurous may want to try one of the fried rice dishes on the menu, like the pineapple fried rice comprised of the customer’s choice of protein, jasmine rice, pineapple, onions, peas, cashews and egg.
A hearty meal
Our dishes arrived at the table within 20 minutes and portions were plentiful. I enjoyed my medium-spiced red chicken curry and used only about half the rice presented with the dish. The delicious basil flavor was pronounced, enhancing the flavor of the coconut milk and the fresh red bell peppers.
My friend’s salad, the Khauk Swe Thoke, contained chicken, noodles, cabbage, cucumber, fried onion, garlic, cilantro and lime juice, a combination that was new to us both. He described the dish as “craveable” and liked the mouth feel of the oil-coated al dente udon noodles and how each ingredient stood on its own, but also complemented the entire dish as a whole.
My favorite dish of the night turned out to be the TAT Morning, which I didn’t expect to love as much as I did. I reached over to grab a bite of my friend’s dish and ended up asking him to make me a small plate. I really enjoyed the flavors of the vatana peas combined with the fried flatbread and the fried onion, and although I imagine it’s fairly caloric, it’s an indulgence that I would allow myself every now and then.
Why can’t they serve something like this as a morning dish here? I’d certainly choose it over pancakes any day.
I’m planning on returning to Tri Asian Taste to sample additional items that I’ve never tried, and I ended up thanking my friend for being adventurous and ordering dishes that were new to us both. Who knows, on a subsequent visit, we may discover yet a few more items that we will be more than happy to recommend as “craveable.”
Next Up: Lunch at Pho King Restaurant in Hampden Township.
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