Flavor: Amarin has an extensive menu (actually three small ones) featuring just about any Thai or sushi dish you’ve ever come across and several signature items. Most dishes are big enough to share, like the Soft Shell Crab appetizer — tempura fried and served with a chili dipping sauce. We also love the Amarin Crispy Duck entrée, a boneless half-duck seasoned and crisp fried served with broccoli, carrots and tamarind sauce.
Flair: The space is small and chic but not stuffy. A blue neon glow and dark wood tables accentuate the space. Outdoor seating is available on a small patio. Carryout and delivery are also available.
3514 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, 513-321-5533. Open 7 days. $9-$19.
Flavor: A family-owned traditional Japanese restaurant, Ando features well-prepared, nicely presented dishes. Sushi rolls are fresh and tasty, including vegetarian cold rolls that are marvelous. Several cook-at-your-table options are also available, including shabu-shabu, top-quality beef that is grilled as fast as a whisper.
Flair: The atmosphere is quiet and reserved. Ando does not have a liquor license, but you are encouraged to bring your own bottle.
5889 Pfeiffer Road, Blue Ash, 513-791-8687. Open Tuesday-Sunday. $12-$45.
Flavor: Aoi features traditional Japanese tempura, edamame al dente and entrées such as Steamed Red Snapper along with the clean flavors and soft, velvety texture of sushi and sashimi.
Flair: Right at street level at Newport on the Levee, Aoi is understated and elegant in the traditional Japanese fashion. Service begins with warm hand cloths, and seating ranges from comfortable booths to front row at the sushi show. With weekday special pricing on sushi and sake, Aoi is more inviting than ever.
Newport on the Levee, Newport, 859-431-9400. Open Tuesday-Sunday. $5-$21.
Flavor: Pan-Asian and American fusion for those looking to make a culinary tour of Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Sri Lanka without getting up from the table. The choices include familiar options (Blackened Ahi Tuna, Grilled Salmon) as well as exotic fare (Cambodian Oxtail Soup, Sri Lankan curries). Come for Happy Hour and try their signature sriracha and eel-sauce topped “Playboy Roll” that’s cooked tableside and features spicy tuna and mango, shrimp tempura and asparagus.
Flair: Some men buy their wives jewelry. Others, like the owner of Apsara, create a replica of an Angkor Watt wall, an indoor 40-foot waterfall and reliefs of heavenly Hindu nymphs (Apsaras) — and offer that as a gift. Sit at the sushi bar for a close-up of these features, which can be seen from most places in the restaurant.
4785 Lake Forest Drive, Blue Ash, 513-554-1040. Open 7 days. $4-$32.
Flavor: For those who like less sugar in their Thai dishes, Asiana is the place to go — they skimp on sugar to keep it healthy. The curry is some of the best we’ve had, because it’s not too sweet or rich. Try the Massaman Curry with Thai-Indonesian sauce and tender sweet potatoes. The Papaya Salad makes a great dessert or appetizer, but be sure to turn down the heat. Plenty of noodles and sushi; specialties are their seafood dishes. Best of all, they deliver.
Flair: The small dining room with only seven tables is intimate. Bring a bottle of wine; they don’t have their liquor license.
3922 Edwards Road, Oakley, 513-351-0999. Open Monday-Saturday. $8-$16.
Flavor: If you’re in the mood for Thai noodles, go to Bangkok. The Drunken Thai Noodles, a favorite, is enough for four people but good enough to eat in one sitting. You’ll get your basil/soy/garlic fix for the next year. Very filling, good for both drunken nights and hangovers. The Thai Spicy is also heavenly, and the green tea ice cream, Bangkok’s only dessert, tastes like Graeter’s caramel. Best of all, Bangkok’s spice scale is honest. If you ask for a 2, you won’t be set on fire with chilies.
Flair: A spacious but intimate bar where you can comfortably sip a drink with a friend and share an appetizer. Super-friendly service.
3506 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, 513-871-0707. Open 7 days. $10-$17.
Flavor: A swanky, Zagat-approved Asian-American eatery perfectly tailored for Hyde Parkerites to go and eat good sushi while complaining about not being able to find good sushi. The Asian-Western fusion menu also boasts saikyo miso sea bass, lobster stuffed with crab and plenty of non-marine offerings such as pasta, duck and lamb dishes that combine complex flavors. Want still more fusion? Try the green tea creme brulee. If you’re a hungry night owl, come for the midnight-2 a.m. happy hour Fridays and Saturdays featuring a half-price late-night menu.
Flair: Ah, the cocktails — specialty mojitos, impressive selection of martinis, great wine list and exclusive bottle service — all served at Beluga’s hopping bar with thumping music and banks of plasma screen TVs. Look for live DJs Friday and Saturday evenings.
3520 Edwards Road, Hyde Park, 513-533-4444. Open Monday-Saturday. $15-$32.
Flavor: Curries, noodles and sushi, oh my! Blue Elephant is a must-try for traditional Thai dishes made with classic regional recipes. Fresh ingredients are imported daily to ensure the flavors and dining experience are as authentic as possible. Set sushi offerings range from Nigiri and Hoso Make to Makimono, and they will roll your requests as well. House specialties include Trout Royale (deep fried with a secret sauce), Flaming Flower (prawn, calamari, cabbage, basil with red curry sauce and coconut milk) and crispy roasted duck with vegetables and your choice of ginger, chili or Choo Chee curry sauce.
Flair: Cool, elegant and stylish eatery in the heart of one of Cincinnati’s swankiest neighborhoods.
2912 Wasson Road, Hyde Park, 513-351-0123. Open 7 days. $10-$30.
Cilantro Vietnamese Bistro
Flavor: Fresh and affordable, Cilantro has been serving the Clifton community and beyond steaming, delicious bowls of Pho, Vermicelli Noodle Bowls, and, as a customer gladly told us between gulps, the Hu tieu (a Vietnamese broth-based soup) is to die for. Feeling naughty? Cilantro quells the fried-food pang with Fried Spring Rolls.
Flair: Small dining area with a few tables and counter seats. We like sitting at the window and watching the coeds.
2516 Clifton Ave., Clifton Heights, 513-281-1732. Open 7 days. $6-$7.
Flavor: It looks like a mild-mannered sushi bar until you see local celebrity sushi chef Charlie Choi mixing up a Hot Mama (one of his Chef’s Special Rolls) behind the bar. With deeply flavorful — and at times indulgent — sushi, such as the tasty Sunday Morning Roll deep-fried with salmon and cream cheese, Dancing Wasabi serves up both creative and traditional Japanese and Korean cuisine. Korean favorites include the Dol Sot BibimBap with marinated beef, fried egg, vegetables and rice served steaming in a hot stone pot.
Flair: Surprises include playful presentations such as the Mochi Ice Cream, with quintessential green tea ice cream wrapped in a chewy, taffy-like rice cake and served like a sundae with a cherry on top. Open into the wee hours of the morning (4 a.m.) on the weekends. Winner of “Best Sushi.”
1018 Delta Ave., Mount Lookout, 513-533-9218. Open Monday-Saturday. $3-$35.
Flavor: Fresh-tasting Chinese cuisine with all the usual suspects. Chef specials include Beef and Scallops, Mussels with Black Bean Sauce and Seafood Delight (jumbo shrimp, scallops, lobster and crab meat with assorted vegetables in white sauce). The lunch buffet is also popular, and kids younger than 3 eat free.
Flair: An interesting blend of traditional Chinese restaurant décor and 20th-century Jazz. Most business is carryout. When you dine in, expect a more leisurely pace than you get at most Chinese restaurants.
3870 Paxton Ave., Hyde Park, 513-321-8388.
Open 7 days. $5.25-$12.95.
Flavor: There’s a lot to choose from at Green Papaya: Thai entrées, noodles, fried rice, sushi, curries, stir-fries and fish. Takeout options include lunch boxes with soup, appetizer, fruit and a nice selection of sushi and Thai dishes.
Flair: This place is crazy with feng shui. You’ll feel at one with the universe as soon as you walk in and settle into a peaceful meal surrounded by natural hues of green and brown and the soft sound of a bubbling fountain.
2942 Wasson Road, Oakley, 513-731-0107. Open 7 days. $10-$18.
Ichiban Contemporary Japanese Cuisine
Flavor: Sushi, traditional Japanese cuisine and some Japanese fusion dishes are the features at Ichiban. What’s fun about the menu is that you can order traditional dinner entrées, or mix it up with some Robata-Yaki (kebab) options and a Noodle dish, such as the Kamo Udon (Roasted Duck) or the Yakisoba (Japanese stir fried egg noodles) with vegetables.
Flair: Impeccable and watchful service, whether you select from the sushi menu or try “robata” — old-world Japanese charcoal grill-styled cooking.
1020 Delta Ave., Mount Lookout, 513-321-8686. Open 7 days. $12-$24.
Flavor: With a discerning clientele of Japanese executives from down the road at the Toyota headquarters, the food here is authentic and high quality. The sushi is excellent, but don’t limit yourself to that with such a wide variety of options. Choose from the sashimi, tempura, soups, salads, noodles and numerous cold appetizers. The menu also features items that are grilled, steamed or simmered.
Flair: Jo An is a crowded hive of activity at lunchtime, filled with businesspeople from nearby office parks. Evenings take on a slower, more elegant pace.
3940 Olympic Blvd., Erlanger, 859-746-2634. Open Monday-Saturday. $8 and up at lunchtime; $15 and up at dinner.
Ko-sho Japanese Restaurant
Flavor: Ko-Sho recently relocated from a somewhat remote downtown location to Northside. There are a lot of vegan-friendly lunch and dinner options, as well as sushi and traditional Japanese dishes. Try one of the pot dishes like Sukiyaki or Shabu Shabu for the fun and authentic feel.
Flair: The new space in Northside is located in the middle of all the action. Big windows let you gawk at passersby and the remodeled interior is sleek and zen-like.
4172 Hamilton Ave., Northside, 513-665-4950. Open Tuesday-Sunday. $15-$35.
Flavor: Lemon Grass makes a mean Crab Crispy, as their crab rangoons are called. Recommended entrées include Pad Thai, Yellow Curry, Chicken Thai Spicy or Lemon Grass Noodles served with egg, green and yellow onions, celery, bean sprouts and tomatoes.
Flair: This low-key, family-owned restaurant is comfortable, with intimate seating, friendly service and an overall good dining atmosphere. It’s conveniently located right next to Rookwood Pavilion.
2666 Madison Road, Hyde Park, 513-321-2882. Open 7 days. $9-$11.
Lu Lu’s Asian Diner
Flavor: Noodle shops are ubiquitous in Asia, serving up inexpensive, steaming bowls of rice, buckwheat, egg and wheat noodles garnished with vegetables, seafood or meat. LuLu’s brings this satisfying, traditional cuisine to Cincinnati, offering terrific Hall Fun (wide rice noodles stir-fried with a ginger soy sauce) and Lard Cha (udon noodles stir-fried in a garlic sauce with bean sprouts, scallions and eggs). Or try their Tom Yum soup (lemongrass, green onion, mushrooms, shrimp and Thai basil seasonings) and curry-spiked Singapore Noodles with chicken and shrimp.
Flair: Especially on weekends, the atmosphere can be lively and noisy at this family-friendly, pan-Asian fast-food joint. The no-nonsense staff keeps things moving.
135 W. Kemper Road, Springdale, 513-671-4949. Open Monday-Saturday. $5.50-$9.50.
Flavor: Delicious, authentic Japanese cuisine in a comfortable family setting. The sushi is fresh and delicious. Matsuya also offers nabemono hot-pot cooking at your table and traditional kaiseki five-course meals with a sampling of three appetizers, then sunomono, nimono, yakimono and tempura.
Flair: Small, family-run restaurant attached to the MatsuyaMart grocery, which is stocked with imported Japanese ingredients, sushi rice, breads and pastries from local bakeries and a large selection of Japanese magazines, books, DVDs and personal care products.
7149 Manderlay Drive, Florence, 859-746-1199. Open 7 days. $11-$35.
Flavor: Tasty, traditional Japanese food. From crisp, light Vegetable Tempura to a traditional bento box (a perfect choice for those who like to graze), dishes are fresh and expertly prepared. Looking for something distinctive? Try the Hot Pot menu for doubles featuring Shabushabu, Sukiyaki (vegatarian option is available) or the Kamo Nabe signature duck. Tempt your taste buds with the extensive sushi menu.
Flair: Service is polite and deferential, with Japanese hostesses and servers decked out in traditional garb. The ambiance is airy with lots of light-colored woods. A wall of private rooms is available, and there’s a patio for outdoor dining.
8608 Market Place Lane, Montgomery, 513-891-6880. Open Sunday-Saturday. $12-$24.
Flavor: Serving authentic Japanese cuisine since 2006, Miyoshi caters to a variety of tastes. Sushi? Check. Tempura? Check. Udon and Soba noodles? Of course! Miyoshi also offers many other authentic Japanese entrées. Go for the authenticity, stay for the ambiance.
Flair: Hospitable service in a refined setting. Sit at the sushi bar or relax at a table. Reservations required for the private Japanese room.
8660 Bankers St., Florence, 859-525-6564. Open Monday-Saturday. $12-$25.
Flavor: Transcending the typical Chinese American menu, Oriental Wok offers innovative, fresh and delicious chef-prepared cuisine that’s never boring — from five-spice tofu over stir-fried spinach to sea bass with black bean and garlic sauce or a Kobe steak with peppercorn sauce. Excellent beer and wine selections. Save room for homemade dessert — sesame balls and mango pudding.
Flair: The Wong family owns and operates three very special restaurants where they make each guest feel welcome and well fed. Cooking classes with Mr. Wong and his head chef are as entertaining as they are informative, and you get to eat the lessons — don’t miss it.
317 Buttermilk Pike, Fort Mitchell, 859-331-3000; 5038 Old Taylor Mill Road, Taylor Mill, 859-431-3000; 2444 Madison Road, Hyde Park, 513-871-6888. All open 7 days except Hyde Park, which is closed Monday. $11-$23.
P.F. Chang’s China Bistro
Flavor: This national chain offers an unusual selection of Chinese dishes including a variety of seafood, chicken, beef, vegetarian and noodle options, such as Chicken Lettuce Wraps and Kung Pao Shrimp or Scallops. Try the Mongolian Beef or the grilled Lemongrass Prawns. Steak eaters will appreciate the soy-and-mild-chile-marinated New York Strip served on a bed of bok choy.
Flair: The hip, fashionable décor provides an excellent backdrop for a night out on the town. Unlike most of the other popular chains, they take reservations. Winner of “Best Chinese.”
2633 Edmondson Road, Norwood, 513-531-4567; 9435 Civic Center Blvd., West Chester, 513-779-5555. Open 7 days. $7-$20.
Riverside Korean Restaurant
Flavor: The menu ranges from comfort-food dishes like the ever-popular rice-based Dolsot Bi Bim Bop through the Adventure dinners, a category that includes many of the more authentic dishes the restaurant offers. All are accompanied by spicy side dishes (ban chan) like kim chee, dried radishes and shitake mushrooms.
Flair: Riverside Korean doesn’t seem to change much over the years. The restaurant, which opened in 1995, has five floor tables and five grill booths (put into action if you order a grilled dish for two or more people) along the opposite wall for dining. What is new, however, is the space called Café Riverside that the restaurant uses for lunch and extra seating space for dinner on busier nights.
512 Madison Ave., Covington, 859-291-1484. Open Tuesday-Sunday. $12-$36.
Ruthai’s Thai Kitchen
Flavor: A well kept secret, but Ruthai’s has a dedicated client base nonetheless. Offerings include all the classic Thai dishes like Pad Thai, Masaman Curry and awesome noodle dishes and sushi. The lower price point compared to other Thai sushi places and the option to bring your own booze allows Ruthai to fit your budget. For a special treat, try the Spicy Fish or one of the duck specials. Plenty of vegetarian options. Now serving a lunch buffet for $8.
Flair: Sit on mats at the low-down Thai style tables for a traditional feel, or Western-style chairs and tables in Ruthai’s quaint, colorful and clean space. With room to seat only 25, carryout is key.
3164 Linwood Ave., Mount Lookout, 513-871-7687. Open Tuesday-Sunday. $9-$18.
Flavor: The menu features an extensive sushi selection that includes the usual suspects and innovative roll options. The regular menu is no slouch, either, with offerings that range from spicy kim chee soup, steamed dumplings with wasabi pork or shrimp, tempura and teriyaki dishes as well as items from the grill.
Flair: Where do the cool kids go for sushi after midnight? Sake Bomb! Naturally, the drink of choice is a shot of sake suspended on chopsticks over beer, knocked into the pint by a pound on the table (“3, 2, 1, Sake Bomb!”) and swiftly gulped.
3672 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, 513-533-0555. Open 7 days. $5-$15.
Flavor: Downtown’s best Chinese restaurant serves kick-ass appetizers, like pork-stuffed Shanghai dumplings and crabmeat cannoli. The Shanghai Flatbread (scallion pancakes) is big enough to share. For entrées, we love the giant bowls of soup, like the vegetarian Buddha Bowl and the Wonton bowl with dumplings and egg noodles. A side of Mama’s garlic spinach will keep the vampires at bay.
Flair: With a setting meant to suggest a 1920s Chinese noodle house, Shanghai Mama’s never takes itself too seriously. Friday and Saturday it’s open until 3 a.m., serving up food and drinks to night owls at very affordable prices.
216 E. Sixth St., Downtown, 513-241-7777. Open Monday-Saturday. $6-$10.
Flavor: We’re blessed to have Song Long’s authentic Vietnamese food in town. This restaurant is family-run, and the best way to describe its cuisine is bright and alive. (It has been known to have lines out the door on some weekend nights.) Try the Gui Con with its clear, cool rice paper and blend of fresh cilantro sprigs and vermicelli doused with peanut sauce. Or the Sesame Noodles with cool egg noodles, red peppers and mushrooms bathed in sesame sauce.
Flair: Comfortable and simple with a touch of kitschy Asian décor. Addictive — you’ll be back.
1737 Section Road, Roselawn, 513-351-7631. Open Monday-Saturday. $7-$16.
Sukhothai Thai Cuisine
Flavor: These days, too many restaurants are going “pan-Asian” rather than sticking to one cuisine and doing it well. Luckily, Sukhothai bucks that trend and makes some of the best traditional Thai food in the area. Looking for something exotic? Try the mango prawns stir-fried in a tamarind sauce or the garlic soft-shell crab. The Pad Thai (the unofficial national dish of Thailand) is great, and they’ll gladly vary the spice in their various curries to suit your taste. Just order a Thai Singha beer to take the edge off that heat.
Flair: Hidden down a winding path behind a car dealership off Montgomery Road, Sukhothai is well worth seeking out. The interior is simple and a bit bare, but the delicious, highly seasoned food is fairly priced and creates its own environment.
8102 Market Place Lane, Montgomery. 513-794-0057. Open Monday-Saturday. $6-$18.
Sung Korean Bistro
Flavor: Sung tries to stay true to authentic Korean food while making it more approachable, offering traditional favorites such as dolsot bibimbab as well as more familiar stir-fried dishes. A phenomenal appetizer option is Haemul Pajun (wheat flour pancake with egg, shrimp, crabmeat, squid, green onion and pepper), which could easily feed four. Dine on traditional stir-fry as hot as you can take it, or opt for a Korean staple, marinated Galbi (ribs). Enjoy Happy Hour in the bar through the week featuring half-price beer, cocktails and wine by the glass from 4:30-6:30.
Flair: The dining room includes traditional-style floor seating in the back of the room. There are plans for a sushi bar in the works. Make your Open Table reservations via their Web site, sungkoreanbistro.com.
700 Elm St., Downtown, 513-721-SUNG. Open 7 days. $15-$20.
Suzy Wong’s on Madison
Flavor: Tastes from all of Asia. Malaysian Chicken in a Claypot with a fabulous yellow curry sauce, Korean Bi Bim Bap, Thai Fried Rice with duck breast. And be sure to try the Dry Braised Wrinkle String Beans — they taste better than they sound.
Flair: BYOB is a nice deal in these price-conscious times, but they don’t skimp on service at Suzie’s. Very cozy and friendly.
1544 Madison Road, Walnut Hills, 513-751-3333. Open 7 days. $8-$16.
Sweet Basil Thai Cuisine & Sushi Bar
Flavor: Traditional Thai curries and noodle dishes like pad thai and lard nah. Try the new Siam Curry with mango, pineapple and chicken in mild yellow curry, or Three Flavors Fish, a crispy whole snapper fillet topped with Thai style three flavors sauce: spicy, sweet and sour.
Flair: Thai cuisine is scarce south of the river, and it’s nice to have a place to fill your carrot salad craving in this hidden gem off Buttermilk Pike.
2331 Buttermilk Crossing, Crescent Springs, 859-331-0666. Open 7 days. $11-$19.
Flavor: Teak features two great tastes that taste great together, executing both Sushi and Thai well. Enjoy Thai curries, Pad Thai, Thai-Style Fried Rice and a variety of fresh sushi. Have a large party? No problem: Order a Big Boat of Sushi!
Flair: Teak offers two settings: a sushi bar downstairs and a more formal dining area upstairs depending on your culinary preference. Winner of “Best Asian (Not Chinese).”
1049 St. Gregory St., Mount Adams, 513-665-9800. Open 7 days. $11-$30.
Flavor: Exceptional dishes include crispy Tofu Ramrong with a perky peanut sauce, Chicken Coconut Soup with fresh lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and chunks of chicken, Panang Curry served in a stone pot and Pad See Ewe with wide rice noodles. Try Thai Namtip Spicy Fish, especially when they have red snapper.
Flair: Portraits of the Thai president and first lady on one wall and a large mural of Niagara Falls on the other. Not fancy, so come to this hidden West Side gem for the food. It’s excellent.
5461 North Bend Road, Monfort Heights, 513-481-3360. Open 7 days. $5-$16.
Flavor: Known mostly for its sushi, Wild Ginger is a trendy collision of several Asian cuisines. Many Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese dishes complement the creative sushi menu. A recent expansion added a Hibachi grill to the mix. Try the Heema Roll,with shrimp tempura, asparagus and avocado, topped with yellowfin tuna and sprinkled with crabmeat and tempura flakes.
Flair: Sleek, worldly and swanky. The small space makes for a somewhat high-density dining experience, but not to the point of discomfort. Wild Ginger has been able to stand out in a neighborhood known for good restaurants.
3655 Edwards Road, Hyde Park, 513-533-9500. Open 7 days. $9-$28.