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Cafe Asia, Downtown at 17th and I Street near Farragut West Metro - Rosslyn Location has Closed


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hillvalley said:
There isn't much good sushi around, other than Cafe Asia, so this could an excellent development.

I've never considered Cafe Asia's sushi anything other than mediocre. CA's a better meet market than restaurant. When the resident sushi 'chef' is from Myanamar, I wonder... :lol:

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I dedicate this post to poor people.

Went to Cafe Asia in Arlington on Friday night. Happy hour=$2 drafts and dollar per piece nigiri; I had the smoked salmon, yellowtail, crab, eel, shrimp, and scallop. Can I get a witness? It was all fresh and good. Throw in a $4 bowl of edamame, some tasty spring rolls, and there's dinner. We were four very happy, if destitute, worker bees. I can't say much for the speed of the service, but it was friendly enough, and the place has an overall good vibe.

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While we've only been about once in the past five or so years, we retain very fond memories of Cafe Asia (the downtown location). Fresh out of grad school with a little money in our pockets for the first time, it became the de facto location for Friday evening get togethers with a large gang of friends - you can't go wrong with ice cold Sapporo in the big can and the sushi and other dishes on offer. We'd fill a big table, eat and drink way too much and the tab still managed to be reasonable. Was it top quality? - probably not, but we didn't care. We went so often we got to know the staff very well and they were always really nice to us - would give us bottles of wine as Christmas gifts, gave us a gift when our daughter was born....nice people....the new restaurant in Rosslyn seems pretty 'sceney' though

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I used to love the downtown Cafe Asia for their noodle dishes. I especially enjoyed the Gway Tio with rice noodles and the pork/mussel combination. The spicy Chinese Ravioli were another favorite. We ordered delivery regularly when I worked nearby and we were working late.

One evening about six months ago we decided on sushi at the Arlington Cafe Asia. It was so incredibly bad. Everything had an off taste and some of the nigiri even looked off (yes, we still tried it...suckers). We called over the manager and the situation was not handled well, in my opinion. She took away the uneaten specimens to examine. She didn't comment or apologize, and never returned. Our waiter came back with nothing to say and handed us a check that had 10% deducted from it. A nice gesture, yes, but the manager should have returned to speak to us. We were really surprised by the whole experience and will never go back - at least not to Rosslyn. I wonder if others have seen a difference between the two locations.

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I used to love the downtown Cafe Asia for their noodle dishes. I especially enjoyed the Gway Tio with rice noodles and the pork/mussel combination. The spicy Chinese Ravioli were another favorite. We ordered delivery regularly when I worked nearby and we were working late.

One evening about six months ago we decided on sushi at the Arlington Cafe Asia. It was so incredibly bad. Everything had an off taste and some of the nigiri even looked off (yes, we still tried it...suckers). We called over the manager and the situation was not handled well, in my opinion. She took away the uneaten specimens to examine. She didn't comment or apologize, and never returned. Our waiter came back with nothing to say and handed us a check that had 10% deducted from it. A nice gesture, yes, but the manager should have returned to speak to us. We were really surprised by the whole experience and will never go back - at least not to Rosslyn. I wonder if others have seen a difference between the two locations.

I've never been to the Arlington location, but the one in DC is not the same as it once was...I was told the two owners parted ways, and the original chef (from 19th St DC) converted the 19th St location into "Singapore Bistro" The menu is very close to what it was before, and I can attest that the vegetable red curry is the same recipe and just as good as it was before. I did go to the new 17th St location once, but the design, the personnel and the food left me cold.
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Cafe Asia (Arlington), with its abundant outdoor seating, is a decent place to gather with friends.. but in my limited experience there I've found their sushi not much better than grocery store sushi. The prices are great, but it's reflected in the quality. I live nearby, and go to Kanpai for my local sushi instead.

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During the school year, many extended Happy Hours with my coworkers began at the 17th location. We used it as a compromise between me, who wanted something to eat that wasn't fried and my coworkers who would eventually announce that it was time to hit Irish Times. The sushi was fine for the price and the beer was even better. Plus, the rice gave our stomachs a good base to absorb a night of drinking :unsure: I don't love the seating there but the bigger tables were useful when it had been a long week and the crowd was larger than usual.

We also grabbed carryout for lunch about once a month. The laarb was better than expected and the Tom Yum soup was a nice when it was cold out. The portions were huge and the prices weren't too bad. Plus, they had the take away containers necessary for soup.

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Hit the downtown location tonight with some co-workers. The quality is still the same as when it first opened, in my opinion. The sushi's nothing to write home about, but it's definitely not below average. And the prices are right, for both sushi (during happy hour) and regular fare. The aformentioned gway tio is still one of my favorite dishes. I have to say I usually get it without the chiles, though.

As for the decor, I hate sitting downstairs with the backless chairs only 2 feet off the ground. But those upstairs chairs are strangely some of the most comfortable I've sat on, considering their low backs.

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Do you ever end up going somewhere regularly that you don't particularly like for no reason other than it's convenient and the only other choices are worse?

"But SeanMike," you say, "you work right near the strip mall heaven with Pho 75, Ray's, Guajillo, etc. How could you ever get tired of that?"

Well -- you do. Or rather, I do. And to be honest, when the weather sucks for whatever reason, and I just can't decide on what I want to eat, more times than not I end up over at Cafe Asia.

And I always end up with the same thing - pork mee goreng.

I mean, it's not bad - after all, I get it regularly - but it's not anywhere near what I'd call good. It's a filling bowl of noodles with a supposedly spicy (occasionally it still is, but most of the time it's bland) sauce, small hunks of occasionally fatty pork, and some cubes of deep fried tofu. The later is best when you get small cubes that are fresh and hot - today I had more than a couple that were too big and a bit cool.

The service is very hit or miss. A couple of visits ago I had a killer waitress who never left me hanging for a refill or anything - most of the time it's not so good. And don't take the lemon or lime wedge off your diet soda or you'll get regular.

The happy hour is pretty good but gets incredibly packed. If you know the bartender, you'll get great service. If you don't...well...oh well.

I can't in good conscience really recommend the place. Thanks to so many people in my offices being hooked on it - and it being the most convenient "big" place to go - we eat there way too much. Still, the service and food ARE better than Piola, but that's like saying licking the concrete on Wilson Boulevard is better than licking the asphalt.

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Do you ever end up going somewhere regularly that you don't particularly like for no reason other than it's convenient and the only other choices are worse?

"But SeanMike," you say, "you work right near the strip mall heaven with Pho 75, Ray's, Guajillo, etc. How could you ever get tired of that?"

Well -- you do. Or rather, I do. And to be honest, when the weather sucks for whatever reason, and I just can't decide on what I want to eat, more times than not I end up over at Cafe Asia.

I actually like Cafe Asia. It's good and affordable food. I don't care whether it's "authentic" or not, it just tastes good. It's a place where you certainly get at least what you pay for.

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My dentist's office is right next the DC location so after each check-up I usually stop by for an order of Singapore Noodles. They are inoffensive, but nothing all that special, frankly I would prefer it if I could swap out the bland and overcooked shrimp for more scrambled egg (really the only reason I order the dish). Maybe when I am there a week from today I can ask.

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I'm with ChiefDC...I've always enjoyed Cafe Asia, for what it is. I usually get a curry dish, that always comes with a filling amount of chicken, potatoes, green beans, carrots, and whatever else I might not be thinking of, and at a reasonable price. Oh, and I think their rangoon are money...particularly that delicious, creamy, thick, yellow sauce.

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I have to mention the outstanding Shanghai style pork belly I had at lunch at the I St. NW location yesterday. It was the best version of pork belly that I have ever had. Great, deep flavor and unctuous texture, perfectly tender. Quick seared salmon belly sushi was also very satisfying.

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I only ever went to Cafe Asia for the events the progressive Asian American community held there. Endless happy hours at the DC and Rosslyn locations. Receptions and networking and rallies. Went for a final lunch yesterday and remembered why I didn't go for the food. Sushi rice was terrible. However my standard order of Gway Tio (wide flat rice noodles slicked with a sweet soy sauce, scrambled eggs, bean sprouts and chilies) was as yummy as ever. Here's hoping we get a place with good food at good prices AND the fabulous meeting and event space soon. 

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I use to hang at Cafe Asia all the time for happy hours with friends and my hubby.  I haven't been in years, but this was a favorite place during law school as it was a huge space and had reasonable prices, especially at happy hour.  It holds a fairly nostalgic place in my heart.  The hum of time moves on... 

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