Orange chicken, pad Thai, bahn mi — these are all relatively common Asian dishes in the United States, and they are certainly all delicious. However, if you are just ordering these classics again and again, you are missing out. Here are six lesser-known Asian dishes from a variety of cuisines. If you see one of these on a menu, you'd be wise to order it.
Khao kluk kapit
A traditional Thai dish, khao kluk kapit is essentially fried rice made with fermented ground shrimp. It has a very deep umami flavor, balanced by a hint of mango for sweetness. Some restaurants will put vegetables like carrots and bean sprouts into the rice, while others will complete it with fried eggs and shallots. Khao kluk kapit is a one-dish meal perfect for seafood lovers.
Suea rong hai
Suea rong hai translates to "crying tiger." Another Thai dish, this delightful dish is actually made with steak, not tiger. The steak is marinated in a spicy sauce and then grilled before being served over a bed of lettuce. Thai food has a reputation for being hot, and this dish is no exception — but it has so much flavor that you'll keep reaching for another bite as tears roll down your face.
If you're craving something sweet, order some hoeddeok. A South Korean dish, hoeddeok is traditionally enjoyed as a street food snack, though you might like it as a dessert. It's made with well-cooked sweet potato dough flavored with a mixture of honey, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Some restaurants make it with some peanuts in the dough.
Pork and shrimp shumai
If you're in a sit-down Chinese restaurant, you may see this option on the menu. Shumai is another name for dumplings, and these ones are stuffed with a mixture of cabbage, shrimp, and pork. They are very moist and are delicious dunked in soy sauce.
A Vietnamese dish, bun cha consists of pork patties served in a rich, fish-based sauce. Along with the patties, you will be given some rice noodles and a plate of lettuce. You'll use the lettuce to pick up some patties and noodles, making sure to get plenty of the sauce. This dish is not only delicious but also fun to eat.
Asian food is so vast and varied. These are just a few of the dishes you can enjoy if you're brave enough to branch out the next time you visit an Asian restaurant.