- Rock & Noodles. This Japanese, Chinese and Korean fusion restaurant opened at 2225 W. Shaw Ave. in the former Mi Casa Mexican Food restaurant. (Mi Casa seems to have quietly disappeared). It’s all about the ramen noodles here. These are not Top Ramen-style noodles, but fresh-made Japanese noodles served in broth in a giant bowl with all kinds of veggies and meat. The restaurant also serves several Korean barbecue dishes and the chef is Korean himself.
As for the name, chef Dae Sung Park hoped it would attract a younger crowd. (He used the words “wild” and “young girls,” but for the record, I didn’t see any wild young girls at the restaurant. It’s totally family friendly.)
- The Lao Thai Restaurant opened a few months ago at 4937 E. Kings Canyon Rd. It took over a former Mexican restaurant space in the Asian Village shopping center. The menu here is huge. Feel free to ask owner Thongsouk Sihavong about anything on it, because she will gladly tell you. (Plus, she’s just bubbly and fun to talk to. That’s her at left.) There’s pho, and noodle and fried rice dishes. The Laab salad is a must try, the owner says. It’s essentially the traditional papaya salad with beef — raw or cooked. They also serve chicken wings flavored with spicy honey, basil or lemon grass. (They don’t have a website, so call them at (559) 251-2800 if you need to.)
- Thai & Lao Flavors also opened recently at 2648 E. Ashlan Ave. near Fresno Street. I haven’t had the chance to interview the owner here yet, so stay tuned for more details.