Plus: Milwaukee's growing love for the cuisine of Asia gives us the Dish of the Year.
We’re seeing a lot of restaurant love for the cuisines of the world’s largest continent – more options, dishes not heretofore available, and a jump in quality.
Between affable owners and well-prepared food, Bamboo has settled nicely into Silver City’s Thai-Laotian community. Try the minced beef-and-tripe salad called larb, papaya salad with crispy pork skin, and creamy coconut soup (kow poon). 3427 W. National Ave., 262-373-9832
Expansion into a neighboring storefront has given Huan-Xi a new identity. The addition’s hot pot tables allow diners to cook meats, seafood, vegetables, and dumplings in broth. This, the only hot pot Chinese place in town, is worth the sweat. 2428 N. Murray Ave., 414-906-8888
Asian Fusion lists its more singular (read: not mundane) choices under “Chef Special” – which is the way to order here. Try the cumin lamb, eggplant in a clay pot, and Korean-style braised rice cake and kimchi with beef. 1609 E. North Ave., 414-273-6688
The North Shore Japanese place Kawa excels at the sushi bar. If California rolls and seaweed salad are as far as you normally go, branch out to tuna tartare, yellowtail jalapeno, a la carte sashimi, and a beautiful selection of special sushi rolls. 325 W. Silver Spring Dr., 414-249-5750
Kim’s Thai left the Pacific Produce market for its own digs in March. Now it has room to grow. Some of the standouts: stuffed chicken wings, tom kha goong with shrimp, crispy bird’s nest (stir fry with house-fried noodles) and pla lad prig (crispy whole fish). 938 W. Layton Ave., 414-282-8687
Dish of the Year
Emerging as a favorite on bar menus and in small-plate establishments, Chinese steamed buns (a.k.a., bao) are pops of explosive two-bite flavor. Bao comes with many different fillings – from meat to custard to sweet bean paste. Here is Easy Tyger’s savory version.