Restaurant Review: Ye Asian Bistro
For a while there, Chinese buffets were everywhere. While quality control was an issue, you couldn’t argue with the quantity for a price tag that was typically less than ten bucks. After years and years of existence as a Chinese buffet, the new operators at 139 Graceland quietly did something new with the restaurant space. While the menu is still Asian, it’s now a full-service joint offering completely lovable fare. Ye Asian Bistro is a change for the better.
The menu includes Chinese, Indonesian and sushi options. It’s a diverse selection of options, it’s still manageable-ly sized. Rumor has it that the General Tso’s ($11.99 – pictured up top) is transcendent.
So let’s grant that General Tso’s, as an entree, has already had its day in the sun. Let’s grant that it’s never going to appear on a secret “authentic” menu, it’s ubiquitous, and overdone. But aren’t you still curious about what might be so remarkable about Ye’s General Tso’s? Of course you are.
Of course, it’d be best for you to confirm the rumor for yourself. It’s easiest to understand the General Tso’s phenom by first talking about what Ye’s version lacks: it lacks the cloying hit-you-over-the-head drowning sauce that people like because it’s salty. Instead, Ye’s version has a defined subtlety in its brine. It coats biggish blobs of fried chicken, each of which remains magically crunchy, in spite of the drizzled sauce. That crunch is pretty special. So also is the presence of a nest of perfectly sautéed green beans. Again, it’s best to appreciate them by contrasting the beans with what they are not. They are not chewy, but rather sautéed so that they hit that sweet spot where they are softened, but still fresh-seeming. Ultimately, you score a a vegetable with your meat, and hence a balanced meal.
For Indonesian Fare, there is a Samba ($10.99). It’s defined by its thinly sliced grilled chicken offered with a calvacade of vegetables highlighted by soft buttery mushrooms, zucchini, green beans and red peppers. It makes each bite a little different from the last.
The sushi menu introduces a whole new world of options. You can go low-end with something like a very simple California Roll ($4.99): it’s pretty with the requisite avocado, cucumber, and crab. Or you can blow the bank and try out the King Lobster Roll ($15.99). The latter was the priciest option on the roll-menu, and delivered the promised lobster tempura, cucumber, avocado, jalapeño and cream cheese wrapped up in rice with a mild soy wrapper to hold it together under a drizzle of mango sauce. While it wasn’t transcendent like the life-changing encounter with a Godzilla roll in 2016, the King Lobster Roll is a balanced combo made from quality ingredients.
The sushi options are definitely worth further exploration, and such an opportunity exists. Ye also has an all-you-can-eat sushi menu for the price of $21.99, there’s some solace for the crowd who misses the buffet scene.
Also notable at Ye is the warmth and personableness of the service. The fare is beautifully plated, and they’ll tell you to come back as you leave. You’ll feel as though it’s meant as heartfelt. That’s something else you don’t typically find at a buffet.
For more information, visit www.sakurabuffetcolumbus.com.
Photos by Walker Evans.