| Follow Us:


Our dining blogger goes west in her quest for Asian cuisine

Honey Pig head server Hee Sook
Honey Pig head server Hee Sook - Steve Ruark
In 1850 Horace Greeley, the newspaper editor of the New York Tribune, popularized the phrase “Go West, young man.”

Now more than 160 years later, let’s coin the phrase “Go Route 40 West for Asian dining.” Yeah, it's a mouthful, but you may need to expand your taste buds anyway if you want to go with me on this journey. You'll also need to hop in your car, unlike my last culinary trip through Baltimore's ethnic dining scene.

It's worth the drive to Catonsville’s Asia Supermarket to pick up Peking duck or hae jang gook (hangover soup with pork) at Ellicott City’s Yet Nal House, whose name on the Bethany 40 Shopping Center appears only in Korean. The nine-mile stretch along Route 40 has everything you might crave in Asian cuisine.  [For a complete list, see the sidebar.]

Your selections are as vast as the fertile farmland of Greeley’s imagination. You have Chinese (Cantonese, Hunan, Hong Kong dim sum); Vietnamese (pho, lemongrass chicken and beef, spring rolls, bún, co’m, and bubble teas); Japanese (sushi, teppanyaki, teriyaki, bento boxes); and, Korean (BBQ, soon doo boo, bibimpab, bulgogi.) There is even a Chinese-style Korean at Tian Restaurant in the Golden Triangle Shopping Center. 

My investigative nature took me out on a three-day tour to try out these restaurants and Asian grocery stores. One day, lunch was a bulgogi dumpling from Honey Pig Dumpling inside the Catonsville’s Lotte Plaza grocery store. Filled with marinated ground beef, vermicelli, scallions and carrots, the dumpling is brought to you by the same folks who own Honey Pig Gooldaegee Korean BBQ restaurant. I’ll tell you more about them a little later.

My second venture was a bowl of pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup, from Pho Van whose broth was redolent of its beef and star anise ingredients.

On my third trip, lunch was at Hunan Taste, an authentic Chinese restaurant in Catonsville. I had their wonton soup with a rich broth and delicate wonton dumplings. Roasted duck can be greasy but not Hunan Taste’s version. I found theirs to be lean with a crispy skin.  

Hunan Taste is not your typical Americanized Chinese restaurant. Pigs’ ears in chili sauce; soft shell turtle in brown sauce; shrimp in lotus leaves; steamed preserved chicken; and, tea tree mushroom-and-ribs soup are among their selections.

I have also dined at Asian Court, which has primarily served Chinese cuisine but is now offering a full selection of Vietnamese pho. Asian Court offers Hong Kong-style dim sum seven days a week but on the weekends from 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. they serve the dim sum from the rolling carts. It's one of only a handful of places in Greater Baltimore that serves dim sum, or dumplings stuffed with various fillings. You can also find more authentic Chinese dishes served along with the sweet and sour chicken and chicken chow mein options. 

On my quest out west, I discovered a number of new Vietnamese pho restaurants. I especially want to go back to the cash-only Pho Van to try their grilled marinated shrimp, green papaya salad with beef jerky, or the marinated quail appetizers. 

My yen for pho stems from my passion for soup and noodles. My go to for pho for a number of years is Pho #1 nestled away in Westview Shopping Center. It has been the place to take pho newbies for their indoctrination.  A bit of trivia about Pho restaurants that have numbers like Pho #1 or Pho #75, the number represents the year they opened. So Pho #1 opened in 2001 and Pho #75 opened in 1975.

Recently, I have been getting into Korean food and doing so at Honey Pig Gooldaegee Korean BBQ. There was one week I ate there three times. Open 24 hours a day (except Mondays), you will find that most of their customers are Asian — always a good sign.

When you are seated you receive banchan, a changing selection of side dishes like kimchi, greens with dressing and tofu.  I highly recommend their pan seared dumplings, which are probably the best I’ve had. I crave their spicy hangover soup filled with cabbage, soup meat and bones.  Watch Living Social for coupons for Honey Pig. How popular is Honey Pig? They were one of the 10 most successful Living Social deals selling $137,940 in one day (as reported by KoreanBeacon.com).

The Asian grocery stores H Mart in the Forty West Shopping Center Catonsville and Lotte Plaza in Ellicott City house food courts in the stores where you can sit and dine. I’m not a fan of restaurants that show photographs of food but it seems most suitable for exotic cuisine with which you may not be familiar.  

Let your culinary curiosity take you out of your comfort zone. As the renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma says, “When you learn something from people, or from a culture, you accept it as a gift, and it is your lifelong commitment to preserve it and build on it.”
On this journey West, Route 40 West for Asian dining I’ve learned a great deal and my gift to you is putting together the list of restaurants so you can enjoy the journey too. 
Dara Bunjon has a passion for food – its origins, preparation and consumption. Her passion became her business Dara Does It. Her rants, raves, reviews, reminiscences, and recipes can be found regularly on her Dining Dish and Dara Does It blogs. 

All photographs by STEVE RUARK
Signup for Email Alerts
Share this page
Signup for Email Alerts