Asian Spice

$$$$ ($15-$24)
Asian Spice photo
Leah L. Jones/For The Post

Editorial Review

If it comes with an Asian accent, it's likely to surface at the snazzy Asian Spice in Chinatown, where sushi, pad Thai, spring rolls and bulgogi are all part of the menu.

Why the melting pot? Co-owner Kanlaya Intavong, who also co-owns a nearby Thai restaurant, Kanlaya, says she simply listened to her customers there. Although patrons "were happy with my Thai food," she says, sometimes "they wanted something different."

They can find just that at her new place, a stylish restaurant and bar whose nearly 300 seats are spread across three floors and an outdoor patio. (Karaoke, anyone? There's a video screen for such in one of the three private dining areas.) Because of its historical pedigree, the building that houses the new restaurant took 1 1/2 years to go from Chopstix to Asian Spice, according to Chad Laosiri, a manager.

Asian Spice's food is prepared by 11 cooks who represent almost as many countries -- China, Mongolia, Thailand and Vietnam -- as there are cuisines on the menu. Early visits to the corner destination found acceptable sushi, tangy seafood soup, cloying shaved beef in that bulgogi and a Malaysian lamb satay presented as three large swords of grilled meat. While the portions are generous, sugar appears to be the seasoning of choice in the kitchen. The most expensive dish on the menu involves lamb, yellow curry and a questionable reference to a gruesome book-movie thriller: It's called Silence of the Lamb.

The new restaurant opened in conjunction with the Olympics in Beijing, on a date purported by the Chinese to bring luck: Aug. 8, 2008. Encouraged by her family to extend her fortune, Intavong served her first customers that Friday, a handful of regulars from Kanlaya, at 8 a.m.

Entrees, $12-$42.

-- Tom Sietsema (Oct. 8, 2008)