Zagat® Rated Review - 2009
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VERY GOOD TO EXCELLENT
Food - 23
Service - 20
Cost - M
Review Hightlights - "Sitting outside and catching a breeze off the Himmarshee Canal" while savoring "gourmet" fare and saucy saketinis - "Pan-Asian doesn't get much better" than this say supporters of thie "serene", "still secret" locale on Las Olas; however, the balcony or porch "is where to be.
The Record - 2006
Cuisine type: Asian
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday
Prices: Moderate - $15-20
Payment notes: Appetizers $3-$9, soups and salads $4-$12, rice and noodle dishes $10-$15, entrees $14-$22, desserts $6-$8
Payment methods: MasterCard, Visa, American Express
Alcohol: Beer, wine, saketinis; $15 corkage.
Wild East bistro a worthy Las Olas addition
With two dozen restaurants in a 12-block stretch, Las Olas Boulevard has become the dining mecca of Fort Lauderdale. But there's always room for one more, especially when it's a place as appealing as Wild East Asian Bistro.
The newest restaurant on ultra-popular Las Olas, Wild East is hip but warm. Sassy like its saketinis; soothing as a glass of green tea.
The bistro is elegantly perched above the Himmarshee canal (the only other restaurant on the water is Stork's Bakery across the street) and it's easily one of the most peaceful, romantic spots in the area. There are two levels of al fresco seating so there's plenty of room for 40 diners; the narrow top patio curves around the restaurant, the lower level is at the water's edge. It's a fun setting by day; at night, it's magic. Candlelight flickers while you watch the gondolas (the boulevard's latest attraction) glide by under the moonlight.
Inside, it's buzzing. The main dining room is lined with stalks of faux green bamboo, which allow a peek into a gleaming, open kitchen. The decor incorporates elements of contemporary industrial design with exposed ceilings, huge trendy lights shaped like blocks and stylish seating for 100; there's a smaller room in the back and a private table which can be curtained off.
Prices are moderate, especially for Las Olas, but the menu is so vast you can easily splurge. Proprietor and Hong Kong native Peter Wong, who has owned Jasmine in Boca Raton for 15 years, says that about 80 percent of the nearly 150 items offered are Chinese with forays into Korea, Malaysia, Thailand and Japanese cuisine. It's easy to graze on appetizers labeled ''Good Beginning,'' soups and salads and a slew of noodle and rice dishes, aside from pages of entrees.
Some dishes are familiar, others more intriguing, like Beijing duck served with steamed pancakes and Korean Chap Chae with glass noodles, beef and veggies. In general, the food is very good, with a few missteps, but the place has only been open since late December.
For starters, fans of lettuce wraps will find a tasty rendition, with ground chicken and edamame sprinkled with pine nuts. Curried vegetable samosas were overdone, but our table raved about the Thai grilled chicken noodle salad. The dish, created by Wong's wife, Emily, is so cool, crisp and refreshing it's perfect for a warm South Florida day. It combines delicate rice noodles with slivers of carrots, celery, cucumbers, bean sprouts and slices of grilled chicken spiked with cilantro and splashed with a lime vinaigrette.
Move onto the ''Warm Up'' section, noodle or rice-based fare, from Malaysian chow mein to Asian paella, one of our favorites. The paella starts with stir-fried rice then adds shrimp, mussels, scallops and calamari, edamame, onions and zucchini in a slightly spicy tomato sauce. If you want more heat, just request it. As for service, the staff is young but eager to please.
Among entrees, mango chicken is light and tropical, with stir-fried chicken cooked with mirin, the sweet Japanese rice wine, with plenty of chopped mangoes and string beans. Trio mushroom beef brings tender slices of flank steak in oyster sauce, with velvety shiitake and button mushrooms.
From the sea, our grilled mahi mahi had a nice lemon citrus glaze but was a little overcooked. The sea bass, however, was perfectly steamed with ginger and scallions, light and aromatic, with a touch of soy.
While entrees are generous, try a few sides, like wonderful stir-fried garlic baby bok choy and tempura-style asparagus.
The wine list here is small, but there are 30 labels and several fun saketinis, made with sake instead of vodka. The pan-Asian menu takes a leap at dessert with pastries from an outside French baker. The white passion (fruit) mousse cake is certainly scrumptious, but don't miss the delightful, house-made banana spring rolls mixed with crushed sugar peanuts, served with vanilla ice cream and chocolate coulis. Or chill with a martini glass filled with scoops of green tea, red bean and mango ice cream. For a perfect night, finish up with a stroll along Las Olas -- or maybe that gondola ride.
By Rochelle Koff
Published: Thursday, February 23, 2006