9521 Fields Ertel Rd.
Loveland, OH 45140
|Hours:||Mon – Thurs: 11:30 – 10:30 p.m.
Fri: 11:30 – 11:30 p.m.
Sat: 12:30 – 11:30 p.m.
Sun: 12:30 – 10:30 p.m.
|Price Range:||$10-$20 per entrée|
We had driven by the new Asian Paradise a few times before they were open, and had been wondering for some time when they would finally be ready for business. The prospect of another restaurant serving traditional Asian cuisine was tantalizing, so as soon as we saw the advertisement in the mail announcing their opening week, we made a point of stopping in for dinner.
Asian Paradise occupies a space in a strip on the corner of Fields Ertel and Montgomery Road that used to house some sandwich place with free wi-fi that I cannot remember the name of. The location is, at best, inauspicious. Though a handful of new stores have been coming in and remodeling the dated buildings around Fields Ertel and the widening of Montgomery Road has improved things a bit, the area still looks a little old.
Do not let the location or the exterior fool you though – the inside is every bit as well decorated as the outside is plain. Well placed decorations, nice tile floors and stone accents give the place a very modern look while still being very Asian. One of the more interesting parts in my opinion being the tree situated in the dining room in front of the sushi bar.
The decor is fitting as Ben Wang, owner of Asian Paradise, says he “hopes to provide Greater Cincinnati with a new standard of modern Asian fusion [...] integrating New York class, Asian artistic inspiration and, most importantly, the best of palattes from Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and China.”
We arrived for a fairly early dinner at around 4:30 p.m. on a Saturday. We’ve recently switched to a polyphasic sleep cycle, so our mealtimes have been changing around a little bit. Either because of it being a little early for the normal dinner rush, because of the restaurant being fairly new, or a combination of both, we were the lone diners in the establishment when we were first seated.
We chose to sit at a regular table instead of the sushi bar since Caroline is not a big fan of fish and we wanted a bigger meal anyway. The hostess who seated us introduced herself as Leslie, told us our server would be right out and then, realizing a few seconds later we were actually seated at one of her tables, said she would be our server and took our drink orders as she handed us our menus.
We started with waters, like always, and turned our attention to the food and wine menus to determine what else we would be having. They had a pretty wide selection of foods from different areas in Asia, and we chose dishes that all came from different regions. For our appetizer we selcted Gyouza, I chose the Crispy Duck as my entree and Caroline picked the Pad Thai. To drink, we decided on a bottle of 2008 Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio.
Lesli returned speedily with an ice bucket atop a stand which she set up next to our table. This was the first time we’ve had a restaurant do this, so it was kind of a nice surprise. She presented the bottle to us, uncorked it and allowed us each a taste before filling both of our glasses and nestling the bottle down into the ice bucket. In the past I’ve usually found myself more partial to reds, although I must admit it was actually a pretty good wine.
While Lesli was presenting the wine, a man appeared from the kitchen with our gyouza in hand. They were done in the Japanese yaki-gyouza fashion, with the flat side fried and pleasantly carmelized and the remainder steamed. They were filled with a variety of things and were salty in a way that was pleasant and not excessive. The main flavors that presented themselves to me were of pork, cabbage and garlic. The flat sides of the wrappers were a wonderful tribute to the Maillard reaction, and were crispy but not anywhere close to being burnt.
The dipping sauce provided was more than just soy sauce, though I’m not sure what all it consisted of either. It was thinner than I would expect a traditional tare sauce to be, but there was a little hint of spice to it that I’m guessing was raayu (chili oil). Regardless, the combination of gyouza and the dipping sauce was really good.
I was impressed with the service Leslie provided – with it being so slow we could see a pretty sizeable group of waitstaff just hanging out and chatting behind the threshhold to the back room. Even so, Leslie was very attentive and checked on us a few times before our entrees arrived to clear the plates from the gyouza, refill our water glasses and pour us more wine.
The entrees arrived before long, with Caroline’s Pad Thai presented in a large metal bowl and my duck arranged nicely on a large square plate with the vegetables arranged above it.
Caroline thought the Pad Thai was alright, although it wasn’t nearly on par with some of the more traditional Pad Thai she’d had. It may just be a product of our being more fond of traditionally prepared foods in general, but it seems like whenever we eat at ‘fusion’ restaurants such as this they get the idea of the dish right but not the spirit. Maybe we just haven’t found the right fusion place. It did have a lot of good flavor to it, so honestly someone a little less spoiled than we’ve been would probably enjoy it.
I liked the Crispy Duck I had ordered better than Caroline’s Pad Thai. The skin was nice and crispy (which I suppose should go without saying) and the meat was nice and tender. I was impressed with how well the wine paired with it – I had never actually had wine with duck before. The vegetables that accompanied it, asparagus & bell peppers, were also well cooked. I will say the asparagus was just slightly underdone in my opinion, but was still good.
The entre dish was doused in a sweet, syrupy sauce rather than being served with a dipping sauce which was really tasty. I was also pleased to find that, with the exception of the two legs, there were no bones left in to pick out. All things considered, it was good duck. I think Sichuan Bistro still holds the title for best duck in my opinion, but this was a worthy contender.
Neither of us could quite finish our entrees, so we requested boxes for them and when Leslie inquired if we would be interested in having dessert we naturally had to oblige. In lieu of a dessert menu, she rattled off a handful of things that they had. I’m not sure if, like Dewey’s, the desserts change regularly or if it was just easier to tell us than go get menus, but I chose the Chocolate Mousse Cake and Caroline went with the Tiramisu.
Within a few moments Leslie had retreated to the kitchen and reappeared once again with not only our desserts in hand but also the check, which she left on the far corner of the table for when we were ready.
The very best part of the meal was easily those two desserts. The chocolate mousse cake was a good sized slice consisting of three different layers of mousse topped with whipped cream and resting on a chocolate grahamcracker crust. The entire plate was drizzled in a tasty chocolate sauce to finish things off – a good chocolate sauce too, they didn’t just pull out the Hershey’s syrup like I’ve seen some restaurants do. It tasted as good as it looked. Next time I find myself there I am definitely saving room for dessert.
Caroline’s Tiramisu was even better. I’m used to only getting a small square of Tiramisu when we order it, but this was even bigger than my slice of Mousse Cake. The pictures may not do it justice, but believe me it was a big piece. It was topped with the same chocolate sauce as mine and was at that perfect balance of chilled but not too cold. It was probably the best dessert I’ve had out in a little while now.
Overall the bill came to around $60 which, for an appetizer, two entrees with leftovers, a bottle of wine and two desserts, really isn’t all that bad. Especially given the general feel of the place as being an upscale establishment. Maybe not suit and tie upscale, but nice nonetheless.
Verdict: You Should Try It.
It wasn’t the best Asian food we’ve had around here by far. It is a fusion restaurant, so don’t come expecting really authentic Asian cuisine either. That being said, they do a better job than some of the other fusion places in the area. The decor is really well done and if you’re newer to Asian food outside of ubiquitous Chinese takeout, or are looking for a nice-but-not-to-pricy date locale, then Asian Paradise will suit you well. If you do decide to go, order dessert.