My fantasy progressive meal is actually for my friend, who is in a constant search for good Chinese in this town. While my dinner isn’t straight Chinese, I think the Asian-based theme fits the bill for her fantasy meal.
We start with Cilantro’s Cold Rolls. These are a great summer dish, not to be confused with the deep-fried spring roll or egg roll: delicately wrapped in rice paper and bulging with fat rice vermicelli noodles, bean sprouts, lettuce and basil. They come with a choice of shrimp and pork or tofu and a spicy soy-peanut dipping sauce all at the bargain price of $1.50 per roll.
Then we would move south of the river to AmerAsia in Covington to enjoy Richard Chu’s Hot and Sour soup with the velvety texture and just the right kick in the spice department.
This Chinese restaurant favorite combines mushrooms, strips of delicate tofu, peppers for the heat and vinegar for the sour. So simple but satisfying beyond any other soup for me.
Just a short skip across the street and we can scoot into a floor table at Riverside Korean for some Korean comfort food extraordinaire — the Dolsot Bi Bim Bab, a rice-based dish that is served in a sizzling stone bowl with seven kinds of vegetables and topped with an egg. While you can order this with beef, chicken or tofu, I rec ommend the beef slathered with a good dose of the chili sauce and eaten in tandem with bites of those crazy little side dishes (ban chan) like the kim chee, crab salad, dried radishes, potatoes and shitake mushrooms.
Finally, we move back to my ’hood for dessert. It’s always a quandary: What do you have for dessert after an Asian meal? Most of the usual suspects don’t work, but Honey’s homemade fruit sorbets do. The current feature, a curried mango and raspberry lemonade duo, fits right into the last pocket after a four-course meal in the Eastern hemisphere.
Cilantro Vietnamese Bistro
2516 Clifton Ave., Clifton Heights 513-281-1732.
521 Madison Ave., Covington 859-261-6121.
Riverside Korean Restaurant
512 Madison Ave., Covington 859-291-1484.
4034 Hamilton Ave., Northside 513-541-4300.