A Local Favorite
149-45 14th Ave., Whitestone
Cuisine: Asian Mix
Hours: Mon-Thu 11 am to 10 pm; Fri & Sat 11 am to 11 pm; Sun noon to 10 pm
Credit Cards: All Major
For the last eight months, the Queens Tribune has been headquartered in Whitestone. As we've been working hard on getting the newspaper out each week, we've certainly worked up our appetites - and the change from our prior Fresh Meadows home has meant a significant change in our lunch options.
Sure, many of us brown bag it; but we all at some point love to get out to the local restaurants or, in the summer heat, we prefer to order in. Casa Asia has been one of our favorite choices - for quality, price and speed of delivery.
Casa Asia offers a range of Asian dishes - from your standard Chinese takeout to Japanese special, sushi and Thai - and we have yet to be dissatisfied with the quality and freshness of ingredients.
A tell-tale sign of excellence is in something as humble as the egg roll. The skin is light, crisp and perfectly golden brown every time; the interior assemblage of pork, cabbage and other vegetables seems freshly prepared, almost as if each one was made to order. Certainly, we don't get the feel that the egg roll was previously frozen of half-cooked and sitting around - no, this is as fresh as they come.
And the same carries over through the dishes. The Sesame Chicken is all meat - no breaded gobs of fat that many of us have come to expect from lesser restaurants. If the sauce claims to have heat, as in the Mango Shrimp with Thai Chili Sauce, it delivers. The Chicken Pad Thai, a personal favorite, is nutty, with bean sprouts that are never wilted, carrying the right balance of heat and sweet from the onion and scallion to the coated chicken. There are no Szechuan peppers to be found, but their heat is ever-present.
On the Japanese side, the sushi is among the freshest we've had, with a wide range of types of tuna, salmon, eel and more. Local names pop into the menu, with the Bayside Roll, which features tuna, mango and asparagus inside and yellowtail and avocado on the outside; the Beechurst Roll, spicy, crunchy white tuna, jalapeno and avocado, topped with salmon, yellowtail, cilantro and miso.
Pineapple fried rice, Singapore noodles, Malaysian Sambai and Thai Basil dominate the parts of the menu that span outside of China and Japan.
For lunch specials, which come with your choice of white, brown or fried rice and soup, egg roll or soda, prices range from $5.95 to $6.50, certainly some of the more reasonable takeout rates in the neighborhood. The same dishes - at the same size - do go up in price by $3 for the dinner menu, but we suggest a sit-down meal rather than take out in the evening.
Located on one of Whitestone's main drags, Casa Asia is serene, charming and staffed by friendly servers who help make the dining experience enjoyable, even if you're unfamiliar with some of the more exotic dishes or ingredients on the menu.
Casa Asia has certainly become one of our favorites in the new neighborhood, and may be a good reason for yours to leave yours and swing by to have a taste of what they offer up in our neck of the woods.
-Brian M. Rafferty