Where to experience Asia in the West

You don't need to fly to Bangalore or Beijing to sample the best of Asian dining, shopping, and culture. We have it all right here

Portland: Shanghai on the Willamette

Written by Lucy Burningham

Portland: Shanghai on the Willamette

Portland's Old Town Chinatown is coming into its own.

Portland Saturday Market. At the ginormous open-air market, expect steaming bowls of pho and hand-stitched skirts. Sat-Sun; S.W. Ankeny St. at S.W. Naito Pkwy; portlandsaturdaymarket.com

Ping. The open kitchen pumps out peppery pork broths, noodle dishes, buns, and skewered meats for a small-plates menu that traipses across Asia. $$$; closed Sun-Mon; 102 N.W. Fourth Ave.; pingpdx.com

Pdx Pedicab. Hop on board for a pedal-powered tour. Hail or call ahead. Cab from $15, tour from $25; 503/828-9888.

Compound Gallery. Check out the most colorful collection of sneakers this side of Tokyo, plus Japanese figurines, art books, and design magazines. 107 N.W. Fifth Ave.; compoundgallery.com

Tower of Cosmic Reflections Teahouse. Pick up a stash of local loose-leaf teas at this serene spot in the Lan Su Chinese Garden. The staff can tell you everything about picking seasons and modes of steeping. Need the right teapot? Check out the gorgeous selection. $; 239 N.W. Everett St.; 503/224-8455.

San Francisco: Pop goes Japantown

Written by Amy Wolf

San Francisco: Pop goes Japantown

San Francisco's Chinatown is more famous, but the city's Japantown is an essential stop for fans of movies, sushi, and spas.

Bushi-Tei. Be sure to dine here. Even at $80, the omakase (tasting menu) is a worthwhile splurge. $$$; 1638 Post St.; 415/440-4959.

O Izakaya Lounge. Stop in for a taste of izakaya (small, shareable plates meant to accompany sake) at Hotel Kabuki's sports-themed lounge. $$ Closed Mon-Tue; 1625 Post; 425/614-5431.

Sundance Kabuki Cinemas. This isn't your usual multiplex. It features online seating reservations, living room-like armchairs, and a blacony bar ($) where you can enjoy a glass of wine. 1881 Post; sundancecinemas.com

Kabuki Springs & Spa. The city's most democratic spa seves up serentiy to the masses: $25 for the hot pool, cold plunge, sauna, and Japanese bathing areas. 1750 Geary Blvd.; kabukisprings.com

Kinokuniya Stationery. This shop carries adorable mini everything: notepads, stickers, and more. In Japan Center's Kinokuniya Bldg., second floor; 415/567-8901.

Hotel Kabuki. Relax with deep soaking tubs and everything sake at Japantown's most elegant hotel. From $209; hotelkabuki.com

Artesia's Little India: Spices of life

Written by Chantal Lamers

Artesia's Little India: Spices of life

It's South Asia in SoCal. Artesia's Little India jolts the sensed with subcontinental delights.

Cottage Art. Hollywood set decorators habitually treasure hunt here. They're lured by the silk floor cushions, flowy canopies, mosaic glass, and brass lanterns. Closed Mon; 18619 S. Pioneer Blvd.; 562/924-6268.

Rajdhani Indian Cuisine. Enter, and the smell of cinnamon, cloves, coriander, and cumin hits you. The vegetarian menu varies daily, but there are constants we love, like the yellow dhokla, made from chickpeas, ginger, and chili paste. $$; closed Mon; 18525 Pioneer; 562/402-9102.

Standard Sweets & Snacks. Full of Chinese-Punjabi treats like penda (milk fudge), coconut chum chum, and kulfi (ice cream). $; 18600 Pioneer; 562/809-5009.

Sona Chaandi. If you're in the market for a silk sari, this is your place. For something more subtle, browse for bangles, slip-on flats, and patterned tunics. 18307 Pioneer; 562/402-0030. 

Naz 8 Cinemas. Sip hot chai and enjoy Bollywood films. From $6.50; 6440 E. South St., Lakewood; naz8.com

Richmond, B.C.: Top chefs

Written by Sara Dickerman

Richmond, B.C.: Top chefs

This suburb of Vancouver is home to Asian supermalls and Canada's largest Chinese population. Dim sum? Noodle houses? Seafood places? All here.

Saint Germain Bakery. One bite of the "pineapple" red bean bun will turn you on to Chinese sweets. The eggy dough is filled with nutty bean paste and topped with a sweet streusel. $ U.S.; Aberdeen Centre, 4151 Hazelbridge Way; 604/276-8378.

Empire Seafood Restaurant. Hit this place up for the best dim sum. The har gow (shrimp dumpling) is elegant with sweet shrimp inside. The best part is the dim sum dessert: three-bite golden egg tarts. $$ U.S.; 7997 Westminster Hwy.; 604/249-0080.

HK B.B.Q. Master. Through the location seems less than promising, the Cantonese roast pork here is cooked beautifully. $; U.S.; cash only; closed Wed; 145-4651 No.3 Rd.; 604/272-6568.

Chef Hung Taiwanese Beef Noodle. You can't go wrong with their Taiwanese beef noodles. Try the spicy "Champion" version. $ U.S.; Aberdeen Centre, 2800-4151 Hazelbridge Way; 604/295-9357.

Sunway Restaurant. This  tiny Taiwanese spot does fine versions of roast pork and other finger-licking food. Be sure to try the green-onion beef roll. $ U.S.; cash only; closed Tue; 1300-4540 No.3 Rd.; 778/297-4363.

Best Asian teahouses in the West

Photo by Jen Siska; written by Sara Desseran

Best Asian teahouses in the West

A bevy of tea bars is introducing Americans to the calming, healthful pleasures of green tea--the most traditional of Asian beverages.

Red Blossom Tea Company (San Francisco, CA). Although it's a shop only, it's worth a stop for high-quality teas, which have been sold to the likes of Charlie Trotter's restaurants. redblossomtea.com

Imperial Tea Court (San Francisco and Berkeley, CA).  The first traditional Chinese teahouse in the United States, this classic was founded by Roy Fong, a Taoist priest and Hong Kong native who sources only the best teas. $$; 1 Ferry Building, San Francisco, and 1511 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley; imperialtea.com

Teance (Berkeley, CA). On Fourth Street, this retreat is a good stop for tea novices. A custom-made tea bar is flecked with bits of sparkly glass and bartenders pour White Peony Logevity Brows and other teas. Tastings from $7; teance.com

Miro Tea (Seattle, WA).  This modern tea shop opened in Seattle's historic Ballard neighborhood and offers an extensive selection. Check out their informative blog. $; mirotea.com

The Tao of Tea (Portland, OR).  Its two shops offer a large and sophisticated selection of Asian teas. There's also a Tao tea bar in Whole Foods Market. (7380 S.W. Bridgeport Rd., Tigard, OR). $; 3430 S.E. Belmont St. and 239 N.W. Everett St.; taooftea.com

4 more teahouses to try

Photo by Jen Siska; written by Sara Desseran

4 more teahouses to try

American Tea Room (Beverly Hills, CA).  The upscale shop and tea bar, which sells 250 teas from all over the world, suits Beverly Hills to a T. Weekly tea and food pairings from $30; americantearoom.com

The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse (Boulder, CO). This ornate, handcrafted teahouse was a gift to Boulder from its sister city of Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan. The teahouse takes its tea very seriously but also serves meals. $$; boulderteahouse.com

The Teahouse (Santa Fe, NM). "Where East meets the Wild West" is the tongue-in-cheek slogan of this Southwestern tea haven. Take advantage of the tea workshops: For $45 and a five-person minimum, you can learn everything from matcha to tea blending. $$; teahousesantafe.com

Silk Road (Victoria, B.C.).  Stop in before 2 p.m. for a tasting (from $10.30 U.S.) at the tea bar, followed by a green tea facial (from $56.60 U.S.) in the attached spa. The modern shop also sells oddities like tea bricks and is appropriately places in Victoria's Chinatown. Tastings Sat-Sun Sep-Jun, daily Jul-Aug; silkroadtea.com

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