Restaurant: Asia Gourmet
Address: 61 Gillygate
Prices: £10 per person
Review: Pippa Dyble
Looks can be deceiving and I sincerely hoped so when I stood outside Asia Gourmet on a warm spring evening. I’d heard nothing but praise about the excellent quality of food, but when staring at the plastic Asian meals suspended in the restaurant window amidst a sea of neon lights, I wondered if I should leave whilst I still had the chance.
Inside, things appeared even less encouraging. The ‘orange-box’, as my housemates and I christened it, could possibly hold only 30 hungry people at a push. Tables had been left uncleared and the dated décor wasn’t even authentic.
However, we embraced the spirit and set to work on the extensive menu while wafts of oriental cuisine from the open plan kitchen made its way through to the restaurant area. The choices of Japanese, Thai, Indian, Cantonese or Chinese certainly gave us something to ponder over.
Even though the waitress was very polite, the service was extremely slow – so much so that we had to ask for her to take our drinks order. When the drinks arrived they were served in plastic cups: my friend’s comment was “at least they won’t break”, but I was less inclined to think to optimistically, especially as the Coke was seemingly flat.
Yet, undoubtedly, optimism is the way forward and thus we turned to the food. We all were rather inclined to the Japanese sushi, and the izakaya style of eating in Japan (like the Spanish tapas).
Between the four of us we ordered eight dishes: Californian salmon rolls, cucumber rolls, tempura king prawns, sake salmon, teriyaki chicken skewers, deluxe battered assortment of vegetables and fish, salmon and spring onion rolls and, lastly, the Tobiko fish roe.
Yet we wondered if this would suffice; with the rolls only £2 to £4, £3.80 for the skewers and £5.50 for the sake salmon.
Each of us was given a small plate and a dish for soy sauce and without a large wait, the first of the courses arrived: the rolls, which looked fantastic. They certainly tasted as good as they looked.
The rice was cooked to perfection, just enough moisture to make the sushi stick with the delicate seaweed holding the roll together. The wasabi was a perfect accompaniment to the sushi.
Whilst devouring the rolls, the waitress brought out the sake-salmon. Even though it didn’t look like the most exciting dish, the quality of the fish was exceptional, considering the low prices we were paying.
The teriyaki chicken skewers were served next. Before visiting the restaurant, I had been advised to at least sample the teriyaki sauce because it tasted so good, and the recommendation certainly wasn’t wrong. However, the chicken was not of the best quality, rather on the fatty side, and altogether a bit of a letdown.
The battered assortment of vegetables and fish was again delicious, although the battered avocado was a questionable decision by the chef. Having said that, I really couldn’t fault the chef on the sushi, he clearly knew how to craft delicious Japanese cuisine with the fish roe a definite favourite.
After we had finished the eight dishes ordered, we still had room for more, so once again browsed the laminated menus and quickly chose to have some tempura king prawns and another set of six cucumber rolls. I would recommend ordering two or three dishes per person.
The food at Asia Gourmet is brilliant, and if it wasn’t for the window-less orange box, the tacky décor and the slow service I would definitely go back sooner, especially as the prices are so reasonable and the quality of food so good. The whole meal came to £36; only £9 per person including a drink – where in York can delicious food fill you up for less?
Yet because Asia Gourmet do takeaways, I would be far more inclined to take the sushi and eat in my own living room, have a picnic (unfortunately plastic cups still unavoidable here) or lunch on the go in town instead of grabbing an expensive and unauthentic M&S sushi box.