- 3122 N. Campbell Ave., Tucson, AZ, 85719
- Overall User Rating:
- (0 ratings)
- Mon.-Thu. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-12 a.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-9 p.m. (delivery hours are different)
- Official Web Site:
What we ordered: One lunch special with tofu and vegetables, tom yum soup and white rice ($6.75) and one lunch special with sesame chicken, hot and sour soup and brown rice ($8.75), for a total of $15.50, way under our Cheap Eats goal of $20 for two people.
Comments: Asian Bistro just might be the only restaurant in town that offers both tom yum soup and Italian soda. Sound revolting? Try a taro- or lychee-flavored bubble tea instead—if you like drinking tapioca balls, of course. Better yet, sip on some egg flower.
It’s hard to tell whether the owners of this restaurant are from China or Thailand, because their menu showcases both cuisines. Thai fried rice, Pad Thai, yellow coconut curry and even Japanese “teriyaki chicken udon soup” are all on the menu, along with Chinese mainstays like beef and broccoli. Some flourishes seem to be the product of ingenuity rather than nationality (like the honey-soaked wonton crisps), but for the most part it’s simple take-out food.
Atmosphere: Despite the outside appearance and casual name, Asian Bistro is actually a full-service restaurant. And a snazzy one at that! Large windows keep the place illuminated so you can see the intricate mural of a Chinese feast on the remaining wall. The tables and chairs are set up in neat rows, giving the space a contemporary vibe.
Food: We dined during lunch so we could take advantage of the cheap, three-course specials, which include soup, choice of rice or lo mein, a crab puff, two honey wontons and dessert (mango pudding when we visited). Initially, I was struck with how few tofu items there were on the lunch menu—one, to be exact. I decided to try the tofu with mixed vegetables anyway, but was severely disappointed. To put it simply, the brown sauce was extremely bland and there was no unifying flavor nor texture pulling the dish together.
The sesame chicken, which my lunch partner enjoyed, suffered from the opposite defect. The few bites I had were decent, but by the end my partner said he was overwhelmed with “sweetness.” The glutinous, heavily fried and basted chicken pieces were incredibly sugary, much like the sweet honey wontons and sweet (according to him) brown rice.
Surprisingly, the soups turned out to be the highlight of the meal. Both were simple and used only basic ingredients, but each had almost perfect flavors. The hot and sour didn’t have much in it beyond some egg and a few slabs of tofu, but the broth itself was very full without being too peppery or vinegary. Likewise, the tom yum soup was mainly cabbage and carrots (no chicken or shrimp) but was delicately flavored with lime and chili pepper.
Bar: No, but they do have one of the largest selections of non-alcoholic drinks in town. During the summer, they’re doing “happy hour” all the time, with $2 blended coffees and bubble teas, $1.50 slushes and flavored teas, and discounts on appetizers.
Bottom line: The two dishes we ordered at Asian Bistro weren’t exactly spectacular, but I’d be willing to give them another chance. The ambiance was decent, and it would be interesting to see what they’re like for dinner. Or maybe I’ll just get some watermelon tea delivered!