here’s my updated list of some of the asian restaurants Elaine and I frequent around the triangle area (yes, we’re like the de facto authority on all things asian around these parts….)
———————– updated from my original post from november 2002:

ASAHI Cary - This restaurant features sushi and other japanese selections. They also have some Korean dishes. Elaine and I normally get the bibim-bap (a spicy free for all mix with rice) and euk-e-jang (another spicy dish). The waitresses normally bother Alec with too many pinches to the cheek so we haven’t been in a while. But if we have a craving for those two dishes, we normally end up here.

KUKI Raleigh - a great place for sushi and california rolls. A wonderful variety of items on the menu that you can’t get anywhere else here in this area. Top quality stuff. We stopped going here after experiencing some bad service the last few times but we still rate this place high on our list for the quality of food.

SUSHI BLUES Raleigh - great food and great service. It’s near downtown raleigh so we don’t go there too often and it’s not that ‘family friendly’ so if we go, it’d be just the two of us. Again, since it’s around downtown, the parking is horrible. and even with bad parking the place gets pretty crowded. I look forward to eating there again. hopefully real soon. :)

WARAJI Raleigh - This is the default sushi place if we don’t feel like making the trek all the way to north raleigh (Kuki’s) or to downtown raleigh (Sushi Blues). Waraji is on Duraleigh Road sort of near Hwy. 70. They have a nice menu and we even took ethan with us on one occasion (and prayed hard that he’d behave….. and thank goodness he did :)

PAO LIM Durham - Service hasn’t been that great here so we normally do ‘take out’ from this place. We only like two dishes from here but the two dishes are superb : orange chicken and mongolian beef. mmmmmm.

CHINA EXPRESS Research Triangle Park - Mandarin House in Durham (which is now- Eastern Light) was the place to go for Korean style Jan-Pong and Ja-Jang Mein back in the eighties. Nowadays, China Express is ‘THE’ authority on those two dishes.

PF CHANG’s Raleigh - Yes, it’s a chain. but they make some great dishes. here’s what we normally get: the lettuce wraps, mongolian beef and the sichuan from the sea (calamari). Elaine would love for them to open one up closer to chapel hill though. either that or for us to just move to raleigh since we basically end up in raleigh or cary to eat!!!
UPDATE: They are opening one up at Southpoint mall (in durham) real soon!! can’t wait. hooray!

CHINA PEARL Cary - The food is pretty much average but the service is always good and it’s in a good spot. we stop by whenever we have to go to the cary walmart or the cary town center mall.

CRAZY FIRE Cary - Mongolian barbeque. mmmmmm. good stuff. kinda pricey for dinner. if we go, it would be for lunch. the kids don’t really like it (they prefer mickydee’s) so we haven’t been back in a while.

BALI HAI Raleigh - mongolian barbeque… mmmmmm. again. but they were here first. and it’s a tradition to endure BAD service there. the service has been bad for so long there it’s now just part of the ‘charm’ in getting mongolian barbeque at Bali Hai. kinda like the ’soup-nazi’ place in seinfeld.
UPDATE: they just opened a new one in durham near duke university. much nicer place, very clean and more upscale than the old raleigh location.
JAPAN EXPRESS Chapel Hill - they just opened up a few weeks ago. after going a couple times, we have to give it a thumbs down. but it’s cheap!

CHINA CHEF Chapel Hill - Essentially the only chinese restaurant we go to in chapel hill (Charlie’s Chinese is OK…. we like Charlie but his food is so-so…) China Chef isn’t all that special either but the lunch combo’s are a great deal and the Yu-Shan dishes are tasty.

MR. WOK RTP - Had the opportunity to check out ‘Mr. Wok’ (a fairly new restaurant over at Triangle Square in RTP) for lunch recently. Not bad. It’s one of the better chinese buffet restaurants in the area, IMO. The amount of items on the buffet isn’t as large and varied as one of those ’super-sized’ buffets like ‘Royal China Buffet’ but (…. and more importantly) the dishes were tasty, the place was clean and the service was pretty good.

The BIG BOWL - we’ve tried out this place at southpoint mall several times. the foods not all that great and the service was pretty bad each time we went. plus! for some reason, the place had a big time fly problem. we actually had a fly land right into one of the spring roll sauces and die. too spicy maybe? anyway, we probably won’t be back here.

The LANTERN - Lantern is a nice pan-Asian, casual-chic-type restaurant on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill. The place was small and very crowded but the service was top-notch and the food was excellent.