If you're looking for gourmet Asian food at a reasonable price in Lakewood, I suggest you visit .
The new Asian bistro restaurant opened about two weeks ago in the space once occupied by Goodfellas Steakhouse inside the Great American Casino, which closed about two years ago.
Singaporean native Tony Wen, owner of Café Banana, chose Lakewood because his restaurant has a unique Asian appeal.
"There's nothing like this in this area," Wen said who has been in the restaurant business for 35 years. "I picked the best of Asian foods, but the menu is not too broad. It's a connection of places from Southeast Asia."
Customers may select from Thai, Japanese, or Indian food on the menu. Sit down at the bar and enjoy one of their Asian beers ranging from a lager to a smooth ale or relax at a booth or table.
Chatchai Puchakanit, a renowned chef mentioned in a New York Times article, is the top chef at Café Banana. He was a sous-chef in the Big Apple during the mid-to-late 90s.
The prices at Café Banana are considerably cheaper compared to the previous tenant.
The entrées on the menu are less than $20 and most are closer to $10. Take advantage of the half-off appetizers between 4-7 p.m. The military receive a 25 percent discount.
Bamboo wallpaper, leaf paintings and animal statues symbolize the rich Asian culture inside. The ambiance has a dim-light setting. It would suit well if you're on a date.
Wen said his goal was to provide gourmet Asian food at an affordable price. Here's what I ordered during my visit this week.
Pineapple Fried Rice (pineapple, celery, bell pepper, onion, raisin, yellow curry and cashew nut. Choices of beef, chicken, pork or Tofu. Shrimp add $2).
I was in fried-rice heaven. The combination of fruit, meat and vegetables — presented in a nicely-shaped mountain — was a mouthful of sweet, crunchy and tender-meat goodness. This dish deserves an A. I highly recommend the pineapple fried rice at $9.95
Crispy Vegetable Spring Rolls (glass noodle, carrot, celery and taro)
The spring rolls had a nice crunch but not too much to steal the vegetables taste. The four-piece appetizer cost $4.95 so it's a nice split for two people. This scores a B.
Shrimp in a Blanket (shrimp mixed with a chicken wrapped in a rice roll skin with a plum sauce)
This was one of my favorite dishes during my visit. The four-piece shrimp was fresh. The deep-fried rice roll had a light but crispy crunch. The plum sauce was excellent for dipping. Cost is a bit higher at $5.95. This scores a B+.
Coconut Soup (galanka, lime leaf, lemon grass in a coconut broth with choice of chicken or tofu)
I'm not a big veggie or curry person, but this was a nice blend of both. The chicken was tender and the vegetables were a nice mix. The soup was spicy, so make sure you have something to cool your mouth down. A bowl of this cost $5.95. I'm giving this a B.
My recommendation — Check out Café Banana. You're going to like this Asian bistro and so will your wallet.
Who: Café Banana
What: Asian Bistro
Where: 10115 South Tacoma Way, Lakewood
Hours: Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday 1-11 p.m. and Sunday 1-9 p.m.