Pan-Asian eateries offer taste of continent

May 29, 2009 (CHICAGO) It's one of several Pan-Asian options in the Chicago area, offering diners a chance to sample a wide variety of flavors.

Pan-Asian restaurants are nothing new. For years, places like Chi-Tung in Evergreen Park have offered diners different menus from Japan, China and Thailand. Joy Yee's also has a little bit of everything on its menus, and the good thing is you can now find these kinds of restaurants in places like Naperville, Evanston and Chinatown, as well as on the UIC campus near the old Maxwell Street.

Considering all of the options at Joy Yee's Noodle Shop, now with four locations including one in University Village at UIC, you can literally steer yourself into one of four different ethnic cuisines.

"When we first started out, it was mostly Chinese, but as we evolved, we started expanding more to the Pan-Asian area with Korean, Japanese, Thai, and Chinese," said Peter Au, of Joy's Yee's Noodle Shop.

Let's take Chinese, for example. There are stir-frys a-plenty, from wide to thin noodles with just about any veggie and meat combination you can think of. But there's also Korean, in the form of marinated, thinly-sliced short ribs, or kalbi. Mounded on a plate, an order for one could easily feed two or three.

From Vietnam, there is pho, the classic beef noodle soup, loaded with different cuts of beef, meatballs and tons of fresh herbs. You can order a regular size, or a giant, family-sized bowl that could feed an army.

From Taiwan, there are bubble teas, all of which begin with chewy tapioca pearls, then a choice of fruit, such as watermelon or mango, pureed with ice and poured into a tall glass.

"Bubble teas are what, I think, put us on the map," said Au.

Japan is also well-represented, not so much with sushi, but with cooked items, such as broiled, barbequed eel served over steamed rice, drizzled with a bit of sweet unagi sauce.

One of the recurring themes at Joy Yee's is large portion size. Certainly, in a neighborhood with a lot of college students, that's a plus.

"I think that is one of the most popular things at our restaurant, the size and portion of our meals," Au said.

Another great option for Pan-Asian dining is all the way south in Darien, at the new Tai-San, which has items from China, Thailand and Japan.

Joy Yee's Noodle Shop
1335 S. Halsted St.
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