My friend Sara and I have been trying to get together for lunch and tackle an item on my “Operation: Southeast Wichita” review list for awhile. With summer coming to a close (and her return to school imminent), we finally seized the day. At Ah-So Oriental. And it was Ah-So GOOD!
Macro shot of a food that’s also a song title. Intrigued? Keep reading to find out more!
Ah-So is located in a strip mall in Oliver Heights at Lincoln and Oliver. As I was waiting for Sara to obstacle course through a wreck on Kellogg, I was amused by the signs on the laundromat door next door to Ah-So. They mean business:
- “No public restroom.” – OK fair enough. I’m on board.
- “No loitering! This is not a bus station!” – Again, fair enough. Drop some quarters in a machine, yo. Or GTF out!
- “Will call the law!” Yikes. What the hell? Are people treating this place like a homeless shelter? Did they setup a church tent for a weekend revival? Is everyone meeting here to pre-game before hitting Old Town? I’m intrigued. But I fear I’ll never know because said loiterers have been run off. Thanks a lot.
OK, onto the review. The restaurant’s setup where you order your food at the counter, pick a seat, and it’s brought out to you. This includes someone coming around for drink refills and to check on your general merriment.
A quick review of the menu left me knowing I’d probably be back if the food was good because I liked what I saw. Both in pricing and in options. We ended up splurging. We each got an entree, and then decided to try both their crab rangoon and eggrolls. Who else is excited? Me! Me!
I chose the Chicken Soft Noodle Bowl. There wasn’t a ton of explanation on what this meant, but you know me and carbs. We stick together like sticky rice in a sushi roll. Mmmmm… Sushi. There wasn’t sushi on this menu, though. And that’s OK. I’m just digressing off into other food realms. Ignore me while I focus.
Sara picked the Chicken Sukiyaki. Does anyone else recognize Sukiyaki? All I knew was it was music-related. I wasn’t sure if it was a song or an artist. But I definitely found it humorous that a song was named after a Japanese dish. So, what did I do? I turned to my go-to guys when I need an answer: Wikipedia and YouTube.
First, Sukiyaki IS a song by 4PM. Which, if anyone doesn’t remember, stands for “For Positive Music.”
Abso-freakin-lutely, right? I know.
OK, so then I’m like, “Why the hell is a love song named after food? Did this dude get depressed over his lost love, then get super-high, then have the munchies? Was it his girl’s favorite food? I. MUST. KNOW.” It’s these kinds of obsessive thoughts that make me worry someday I’ll go full-tilt crazy if I can’t figure something out. But, hey, if Ghandi didn’t know his shit, who did: “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” Was Ghandi crazy? He was high a lot, right? I’m digressing. No, Mom. I DO NOT do drugs.
OK, so back to the song. I guess it was a Japanese song (title loosely translated to “[I] shall walk looking up”) and the song was translated to English but they (they being the music people who make music decisions, I guess) were afraid no one would remember the title or it wasn’t catchy enough. So they named it “Sukiyaki.” The title has nothing to do with the song. And a columnist for Newsweek even said calling the song Sukiyaki was like taking a popular American song and releasing it in Japan with a title similar to “beef stew.” Funny. Anyway, if you care, I got all of that info on the Sukiyaki (song) page on Wikipedia.
So, what is the REAL Sukiyaki? I’m glad you asked. Also according to Wikipedia’s page on Sukiyaki, the food, it’s thinly sliced meat and vegetables in a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, and mirin. Sara said it was good. I also snuck a small bite and agreed. So, thanks to Sara for finding this item on the menu and ordering it because she wanted something she’d never had. I love random history lessons about history I actually care about!
I found my “soft noodle” dish delicious as well. It reminded me of lo mein. Only lots of times I find lo mein to be kind of heavy and greasy. This was more light. I’m not sure if it was the noodles, the sauce, or both. Anyway, if I ever have a lo mein craving again, I’m hitting up Ah-So, rather than Dillons or other fast Chinese food. So good!
We also enjoyed our crab rangoon and eggrolls. I thought the wrappers used for the rangoon were a little thick. Which might be a weird description, but I’m not sure what else to say. The eggrolls were made with thinner wrappers, and I can’t help but think the rangoon would have been better with the same ones. But what do I know? All I know is I will pass on the crab rangoon next time.
However, put a footnote on that because each entree comes with two mandu. These things tasted like they had an eggroll filling, but the shells were more of a fried bread rather than eggroll wrappers. And I REALLY liked them. In all honesty, the one entree with the mandu included would have been more than enough food for me. Meaning an even cheaper meal! Wahoo!
Sara also go the Ah-So Salad. Which she described kind of like coleslaw because it had cabbage in it. The dressing was kind of sweet and tangy. She liked it, but I’m not a fan of uncooked cabbage. So mixed reviews on that.
Bottom line: Very good! I’d definitely rather eat here than Dillons Chinese food. It’s fast. Everyone’s really friendly (as opposed to the sometimes-sketchy helpfulness of Dillons workers). And the workers (I assume they were a family) were all sitting down to eat their own food when Sara and I were eating. So that’s also a good sign! If anyone ever craves lo mein, holler at me. We’ll have some ah-so good Ah-So!
Egg rolls. Yummy!
Chicken Soft Noodle Bowl (Yes, I realize it’s a plate). And two mandu. Delicious. I want more now!
Chicken Sukiyaki and two mandu. It looks like this one has noodles, but I think those are mostly bean sprouts. But don’t worry, carboholics. There’s a side of rice.
And, while we’re hanging out reminiscing on golden oldies of the R&B (or whatever the hell it’s called) realm, I figured why not. One for the road, folks.