Life is crazy right now. Coronavirus (COVID-19) has changed life as we know it for the foreseeable future. Now more than ever, food we love and enjoy has been a helpful respite from the daily news. It can’t be overstated that the soothing power of nostalgic foods calm and restore sanctity to our inner being. Food, after all, is one of our basic needs.
As you know, the hospitality industry has been among the hardest-hit communities in the past few weeks. Restaurants we have supported and held dear for years, maybe decades, are in danger. Some have closed their doors with hopes of reopening. Some may not be so lucky. The feeling of helplessness can be palpable at times like these, but we do have a way to gain some back. By supporting the eateries we cherish, we have a say in the future of dining in our city.
In the last few weeks, Asian restaurants have been hit particularly hard by this pandemic. Unsubstantiated fears associated with the outbreak of COVID-19 have wreaked havoc on many of the Chinese, Japanese, and Asian Fusion restaurants in our community. These establishments need our help. I have compiled a list of Asian restaurants in the Triangle that are still operating, and at what capacity their services are being offered. I highly encourage you, while takeout and curbside are still available), to show your support.
Located on Tryon Road by the Cary Parkway, this fantastic spot has a large menu with many delicious and well-prepared offerings. I’m normally wary of menus this size, but they execute most of what they do at a particularly high level. Do not miss Mama’s Black Bean Chicken (order it spicy!), the Dan Dan Noodles, the dry sautéed string beans (a must!), and top it all off with some sour wontons.
6404 Tryon Rd, Cary, NC 27518. (919) 706-5862
Take-out: Yes Curbside: Yes Delivery: No
Chuan (short for Szechuan) Cafe has had only a brief opportunity to make an impact on Raleigh’s Asian food scene. It has only been open for 2 months, and I have visited a dozen times. Located conveniently on New Bern Ave near the Alamo Drafthouse in the Longleaf Shopping Center, Chuan offers high quality, classic Szechuan fare at affordable prices. Your classic lo mein and fried rice dishes are available as well, but don’t be afraid to get adventurous with some of my personal favorites: stand-out dishes like the Toothpick Lamb, Dry Fried Broccoli and the cold Wood Ear Mushroom salad. More approachable and well-done dishes include their Hot & Sour soup, Spicy Shredded Garlic Pork, Chongqing Fried Chicken and Chili Wontons. For real though, the whole menu is fire.
2004 New Bern Ave, Raleigh, NC 27610. (919) 594-1772
Take-out: Yes Curbside: Yes Delivery: Postmates
This Raleigh staple has been providing craveable Korean delicacies for as long as I’ve been here and longer still. You can find this gem in the shopping center at the corner of Millbrook and Atlantic. The heated grill in the middle of the tables is a feature I look forward to taking advantage of when the world has found balance, but for now you can still enjoy their delicious selections of Korean BBQ, available for take-out or delivery through GrubHub. Solid choices are their Bibimbap, Vegetable Udon Noodle Soup, Kimchi Pancakes, Japchae (Korean sweet potato glass noodles with beef), Shumai, Dumplings, and the Galbi Jhim (personal favorite).
4701 Atlantic Ave, Ste 131, Raleigh, NC 27604. (919) 850-9984
Take-out: Yes Curbside: Yes Delivery: Grubhub
Since 2013, Rose’s has provided the Triangle with some of the best Asian cuisine and pastries available. Their concept has grown, evolved, pivoted, and changed to reflect Chefs Justin and Katie’s culinary journeys. Known for their delicious soups, dumplings, and pastries, this small and bustling cafe cranks out an ever-changing menu, inspired daily by what’s coming in fresh to our market and the chefs’ personal hunger for innovation. I spoke with Justin about the challenges faced by restaurants today, and he seems excited to flex some creative muscles in the face of adversity. “We’re finding new ways to apply ingredients in ways that work for us and the guest,” he said, as kitchen hands worked hard in the background. My experience of their savory options is limited to their ramen and gluten-free belt noodle dishes. Both were delicious, but recommending them may not be helpful, as the menu changes daily. Worry not, though. Justin assured me his ever-changing menu will be updated daily on Door Dash, so hopeful noodle-nibblers will be able to order confidently. As for pastry, many of the same mouth-watering offerings we’ve come to know and love will still be available. I, for one, am a big fan of their macarons. And, sign me up for anything with salted caramel.
121 N. Gregson Street, Durham, NC. 919.797.2233
Take-out: Yes Curbside: Yes Delivery: Door Dash
Have you ever been driving down Guess Rd and passed by a somewhat out-of-place, peach-colored, wood-siding house across the street from a BP gas station? Ever wonder what the deal is? Steaming hot dumplings rolled to diners on carts along with piping hot plates of broccoli rabe in oyster sauce, sticky rice, and turnip cakes is what the deal is. Saturday morning services at this Durham deep dive were the only time to catch cart service before COVID-19. Fortunately, they’re still rolling out delicious Dim Sum to the masses. They offer classic (Americanized) Chinese fare as well, so you can put a smile on your kid’s face with some pork fried rice and lo mein.
3003 Guess Rd, Durham, NC 27705. (919) 479-8339
Take-out: Yes Curbside: Yes Delivery: No
Another cozy classic spot for all your dumpling needs. The congee here is especially tasty, so don’t sleep on it! The main difference here from the Dim Sum spot mentioned above is that Dim Sum House is offering delivery through almost every delivery company. Come back when things settle down for a pleasant dine-in experience complete with a pot of tea and let the waves of drool-worthy Dim Sum wash over you!
100 Jerusalem Dr #104 Morrisville, NC 27560. (919) 380-3087
Take-out: Yes Curbside: Yes Delivery: PostMates, Door Dash, GrubHub
Justin Chow struck out on his own about 9 months ago after 30 years of perfecting his craft in Asian kitchens of every variety. His talent and experience are on full display at Koi, his first private venture. We all know how crucial the first few years are to a healthy and prosperous restaurant. This pandemic could not have come at a worse time for this industry vet. I was tipped off about Koi by a manager at Waraji in North Raleigh when contacted for her thoughts on the situation. Chow had spent time in this well-known, high-quality sushi favorite hot spot. Her high praise for Chow piqued my interest and led me to call Koi for more info. I was surprised that Chow himself was answering phones and taking orders. Once I conveyed the intent of my call, Justin was happy to give me some background, highlighting the many different styles of Asian cuisine he’s become familiar with over the years. Koi offers a wide array of options, from sushi to hibachi and even ramen. As an industry vet of 20 years myself, I feel compelled to show support to a business such as this. Not to mention the menu looks insanely crushable!
126 E Millbrook Rd, Raleigh, NC 27609. (919) 848-4663
Take-out: Yes Curbside: Yes Delivery: Yes, provided within a 3 mile radius of the business
This list wouldn’t be complete without a nod to a Thai-centric restaurant. Tangerine Cafe came highly recommended by Crawford & Son’s sous chef, Kristen Russell. Chef recommendations come with a distinctly higher level of regard (and that’s why you’ll find chef recommendations on CurEat). Kristen actually spent time working here in her early industry days. To have left and walk away continuing to hold a place in high praise means they are doing it right. I can’t speak from personal experience, but I am aching to go as soon as possible. Thai cuisine is near and dear to my heart. Panang curry dishes done right can straight up buckle my knees. If the food alone doesn’t draw your support, consider that since 2010, they’ve been donating 10% of their sales to various non-profits through their “You Eat, We Give” program. I don’t know about you, but a business that has been giving to the community as long as they have deserves our support more than ever!
Take-out: Yes Curbside: Yes Delivery: None (Let’s hope that changes!)
These are just a few stand-out restaurants that deserve our support during this time. If your fridge is packed and you’re set for the next week, consider purchasing a gift card to be used down the road when our situation improves. That capital could very well float the business at a time where money coming in without the expenditure of labor and product is vital. There is one last aspect I’d like to consider, and that’s one that Justin from Rose’s mentioned. The influx of call-in orders for pickup and delivery has grown exponentially. For a lot of these businesses, the option of bumping up receptionists/phone lines isn’t feasible. Let’s all make sure to exercise patience and understanding in the next month and half as these hard-working folks do their best to adapt to new conditions. We’re already seeing the pressure get to some seasoned establishments. The AC Restaurant group has cut all pick-up service from the last remaining restaurants in their group for fear working conditions will endanger their employees. Let’s spread the love and try not to overwhelm anyone. We’re all just trying to keep afloat.
You can follow me on CurEat, where you’ll find my “Save These Restaurants! (Asian)” list.
Gregory Martinez is a certified sommelier and bartender at Crawford & Son in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is one of millions of restaurant employees who have temporarily lost their job due to COVID-19. Knowing Chef Scott Crawford, shutting his doors for the foreseeable future was not something he wanted to do to his employees or the community. During this time of shut down, you will be hearing more from men and women who have served you.