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SLO's Asian Flavors

What is the best part of traveling? For most people, it is the opportunity to sample local cuisine. And Eastern Asia has, what some would argue to be, some of the most concentrated yet diverse sampling of delectable specialties. Japan has long been known for its fresh sushi and sashimi. Thailand’s mouth-watering use of curries and spices has garnered them a cult following of devout diners. And who doesn’t love classically executed, well prepared Chinese food? Rest assured food lovers, Asian cuisine more popular than ever right here in San Luis Obispo. At last count there were four Thai restaurants, five Chinese restaurants, and seven Japanese restaurants, with new ones popping up on a seemingly weekly basis.

Tsurugi’s Japanese Restaurant, located at 570 Higuera Street, suite 20, in the Creamery, boasts what many believe to be the most authentic fare. Tucked into an un-pretentious, off-the-beaten-path location, this eatery serves large portions of sushi, sashimi, udon bowls, along side a variety of cooked teriyaki-style dishes. Specials are always tasty, change regularly and depend on what is available. The atmosphere is welcoming and friendly, with sushi bar, table and space that can accommodate large parties. Service is exceptional and the food is consistently fresh and mouth-watering. And unlike some big-city sushi joints, all of this comes at a very reasonable price. Lunch specials start around $10 and dinner will usually set you back about $15, depending on your appetite.

Another restaurant of note includes Thai-Riffic, located at 208 Higuera Street. The dining area is charming, the staff is inviting, and the food is simply delicious. Lunch specials include some of the most bang-for-your-buck deals in town (however expect to wait five to 10 minutes for a table…it’s worth it). Dinner is just as good and is generally less crowded. Recommended dishes include the Sriracha chicken – three generously sized chicken thighs served with rice. Also try the Tom Ka Gai soup, a hearty coconut milk-based soup with chicken and mushrooms and anything on the menu with curry.

Still hungry? Mandarin Gourmet at 1316 Madonna Road has some of the best Chinese food in town. Serving up all of the classics, from hot and sour soup to broccoli with beef to chow mein, customers will not be disappointed. All of their food is reasonably priced and served by friendly staff. The restaurant space is inviting and can accommodate large parties. Note the special family dinner combinations on the menu – the Emperor’s Feast or the Gourmet Dinner. Diners choose from a list of entrees served with spring rolls, fried wontons, choice of soup, steamed rice and tea and cookies…this place is not to be missed!

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