Who would have thought it? In the throes of a crippling pandemic, sushi numbers are up at Asian Paradise. GM Rainbow, the single-named, vivacious proprietor at the eatery said this: “Sushi business is very good; increased now, during the pandemic, because people come here for dine-in and sushi.” Why might that be? Rainbow surmises that other places in the vicinity of Asian Paradise have either stopped offering sushi or have chosen a carryout-only approach to offering it. “People want to come here, sit at table and eat sushi,” she said, adding that she believes hers is a competitive advantage created by choices other eateries have made, at least for now.
“Sushi popular too. Lots of regulars (repeat customers) come for the sushi,” she said. Noteworthy is that Asian Paradise employs two sushi chefs and has done so for years. The pair can turn orders more expeditiously — two times faster. Freshness being the hallmark of good sushi, assembly is best done in the moment, at order. Not all eateries assemble every item at order, though, instead making some “best-seller” rolls and such ahead of the rush, plugging them in when front-of-house or carryout orders are placed. My thinking is that doing ahead simply has to affect quality, and if an eatery is cutting that corner, then where else? In any event, better quality and speedier service must be pluses for the customer.
Since sushi is an intricate prep requiring significant time in assembly and care in plating, a 1-person operation can be overwhelmed when orders pile in. Even with two chefs filling orders, there is no guarantee, but Rainbow assures that her chefs take rushes in stride and turn out fresh, high quality sushi every time. “That why we have the customer, why people come here for the sushi,” she said with enthusiasm.
On our most recent visit to Asian Paradise, we carried out our meal. Our choice was not sushi, but Vietnamese basil beef, a stir-fry dish that is packed with flavor. “The basil beef we start with the sauce and the basil (in the wok); the basil goes into the brown sauce for special flavor, and the green onions also,” Rainbow said.
After a brief stir-fry to meld these flavors, the more noticeable ingredients are added. These include red and yellow-orange bell peppers, broccoli florets and meaty chunks of shitake mushrooms, followed by thin-sliced pieces of beef, so tender the pieces seem macerated. The result is an entrée with eye appeal that is both aromatic and delicious.
In case you are wondering, the basil in this dish differs from that found in Italian red sauces or used in making pesto. That variety is “sweet” basil, aka Italian basil, with a markedly different taste and aroma profile from its Southeast Asian cousin. The Southeast Asian variety, known as Thai basil, looks different for starters, with pointed leaves and purple stems. Different, too, is the taste and aroma, with profiles that evoke licorice and anise notes. Used in the wok, these profiles reduce in intensity, but add complexity of flavor to the beef and vegetables they season. The result is a dish that is pleasingly fresh and tasty. I’m betting you’ll love Vietnamese basil beef if you enjoy stir-fried entrees such as Mongolian beef.
We chose this dish above others because Rainbow said her patrons were choosing it more often lately. She stated that the pandemic has changed little in terms of popular favorites, those being: lo main, which are Chinese egg noodles, to which the diner may choose the addition of veggies, or a protein of choice; fried rice, and especially Thai style, with pineapple; General Tso’s chicken; sesame chicken; and Mongolian beef.
Regarding safety of the dine-in experience, Rainbow said: “We have plenty room for social distancing for the customer, and we are doing everything to keep people safe (when they dine in). We do carryout too, and we have customer who come to eat here, and we are making what we need to make (from an expense standpoint) to cover everything.”
On carryout orders, Asian Paradise is not using delivery services of any kind. “We don’t do (those) because too complicated and they charge too much fee—people come and pick-up food. That way better; way safer too.”
See you soon at Asian Paradise!
9521 Fields Ertel Road
Loveland, OH 45140