Oriental Express may not look impressive from outside, but looks can be deceiving. The restaurant is located at 5954 SW 29th St. east of Wanamaker Road. Their food is available for carryout, dine in, drive through and by delivery. They are open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. They specialize in Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Thai food.
With such a large selection of various types of Asian food, it would be easy to miss the mark somewhere, but having tried a little of everything, I can honestly say they have never failed to impress.
One could eat there everyday for a month and never have the same dish twice. Most of the entrées are priced less than $12, so it is affordable on a college budget, and the portions are large enough to leave a customer with plenty to take home.
The restaurant has a nice ambiance suitable for a date or dinner with friends. The tables and bathrooms are clean and well-kept. The décor is pleasant with visually appealing art and some well-placed cultural items such as a maneki-neko, a traditional Japanese good luck charm in the form of a cat.
The service is impeccable. The staff is friendly, knowledgeable and quick with a smile. They are quick to recognize repeat customers and remember a customer’s favorite dishes. The staff also does an excellent job at working as a team to keep the restaurant running fast and smooth.
On my latest visit, I started with an Asahi Super Dry, a popular Japanese beer. The beer was smooth and crisp with a dry finish. It pairs nicely with most of the dishes on the menu.
The first dish was an order of wonton soup. The pork inside the wontons was nice and tender with a savory taste. The broth was flavorful without being overly salty and was served with a side of crispy fried noodles.
Oriental Express has a fantastic sushi bar with an impressive selection. One roll that stands out is the Missouri roll. It consists of smoked salmon, crab and cucumber rolled and topped with ahi tuna. This roll steals the show with a fantastic blend of flavors.
The crab provides sweetness and the ahi tuna has an umami taste redolent of a medium rare steak, while the cucumber provides fresh and crisp watery notes and the smoky traces of the salmon finish off the mixture. This roll hits every sensitive part of the palate without overpowering.
One entrée I would highlight is the bulgogi. It is a traditional dish from Korea made from marinated beef. Tender cuts of beef are sautéed with slices of onion and chives in a sweet soy-based sauce.
It has the suggestion of garlic without being too strong and has a balanced sweetness. The onions are nicely caramelized to provide the perfect taste and texture. The dish mixes well with the steamed rice served alongside to stretch the meal. It can be split and enjoyed the next day as leftovers. Strangely enough, like pizza, it is good cold as leftovers.
It is easy to enjoy a remarkably satisfying meal at Oriental Express because of the perfect blend of good service, pleasant atmosphere, outstanding food and reasonable prices. I would highly recommend it to any college student who appreciates Asian cuisine.