Monday, April 11, 2011

Asian Grill

A while back, Greg Cox, the restaurant critic for the Raleigh newspaper, wrote a glowing review of the Asian Grill and awarded it four stars (out of five)--quite a high rating for a hole-in-the-strip-mall place in North Raleigh. It took us a while, but the other night, we finally checked it out.

I'm afraid I have to disagree with Mr. Cox.

Asian Grill probably is the only restaurant in the area to serve authentic Shanghai cuisine, and I'm glad to have that type of food available. Like Cox, I greatly enjoyed the soup dumplings, which resemble traditional dumplings until you bite into them and find a tasty meat soup waiting inside. The savory richness of that meaty soup raised my hopes for the meal. Indeed, if the rest of the food had been that good, tasty, and unusual, I, too, would have awarded the place many stars.

The problem is, the rest of the food was entirely average. It was as tasty as the next Chinese restaurant--but no more. I sampled one of the house specialities, the Shanghai Madness, and though it was pleasant enough, it was just another of those dishes where they toss in various meats and stir fry them and a few veggies in the same brown sauce you can find in a hundred restaurants in North Carolina alone.

Other dishes ranged from good to weak but were generally just like what you could get at any other Chinese restaurant.

If you're near the Asian Grill and just want to grab a Chinese dinner, you'll be fine. If, though, you want something exceptional, reconsider your plans or reset your expectations.

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