I have a new Baltimore trendlet for you: Asian restaurants with style. It's been one of the things I've missed about LA now that I no longer visit my daughter there.
Until fairly recently Baltimore's Asian restaurants seemed to fall into two categories: Little places done on a shoestring (either hole-in-the-walls or not) and restaurants where a lot of money had been spent on the decor, but, well, "style" wouldn't be the word that came to mind.
Can we count Red Maple in Mount Vernon? In spite of the Asian tapas, I don't think of it as an Asian restaurant. I think the first of our Asian restaurants where I walked in and said, "Wow. Cool!" was Minato Sushi Bar in Mount Vernon after it moved a couple of years ago. ...
Here's how I described it in my review:
There's a glittery retro chandelier. Light is also provided by the huge rainbow wave fixture, almost a sculpture, overhead. The fluorescent lemon-lime chairs are so bright they practically light up the place by themselves.The decor is kept from being garish by the soft blue wavelike pattern on the walls and the polished hardwood floors. It's fun and funky, and it works in a wacky sort of way within the structure of the once-elegant Charles Street townhouse with its ornate, partially gilded mantel.
Sam's Kid in Fells Point has that same sort of intriguing decor, and I'm pretty sure there are others. I just can't think of them now.
I think the following goes along with the decor: If you order wine, you don't get generic red or white in a discount store wine glass filled to the brim, once a hallmark of Asian restaurants around here. And more thought goes into the presentation of plates that aren't sushi.
(Christopher C. Assaf/Sun photographer)