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.
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