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Asean Garden
5828 Sherbrooke West, N.D.G.

Lunch: Mon. - Fri.: 11:30 am to 2:30 pm. Dinner: Sun. to Thurs.: 5:00 pm to 10:30 pm, Friday - Sat.: 5:00 pm to 11:30 pm. Credit cards, Interac. Tel.: 487-8868
What do you want for dinner? Let's have everything—dim sum, crispy duck with five flavours, Thai red curry chicken, maki sushi, pad thai, sticky rice in Lotus leaf, green tea ice cream . . . and let's have it all at once.

Now, finally the restaurant for the family that like's Asian cooking but can't decide. Here they are, all under one roof: Szechwan, Thai, and Japanese.

Asean Garden is cavernous. The Japanese lanterns on the left and ornate Thai furniture on the right don't quite make the place less scattered or intimate. This is a former Greek two floor barn of a place that failed as two other incarnations. As Asean, the action is kept to the ground floor and a huge sidewalk terrace. he terrace holds about fifty peple and is a great spot for summertime dining. The upstairs is now reserved for private parties. The staff is competent, friendly even, but not quite in tune with the needs of the clients. Chopsticks aren't offered, cutlery is occasionally missing, and water is poured so often I thought the staff got paid by the gallon.

The menu is broad, with over 150 dishes. We have eaten there a few times and are slowly making our way through the array.

Let's start with a few starters. I have been surprised at the freshness of the fish for the sushi. My daughter has the palate of a finicky teen and has slowly gravitated to sushi as her preferred way of eating fish. Asean's is well prepared. The sashimi is cut a little thicker than most places and the rolls are competent without being flashy. This isn't sushi bar territory but it is good for table service.

The hot and sour soup was tasty, but tasted different on two occasions. It is also much too thickened with cornstarch. The satays are uninspired with a peanut sauce that tastes bottled and bland, not even up to President's Choice standards. The Thai soups are quite good and the curries as well. Our seafood green curry was thick with shrimp, mussels, scallops and cuttlefish. A dish of Chinese eggplant in a spiced oyster sauce melted in the mouth.

The ginger ice cream was tasty but could have used more fire, and the green tea ice cream was a treat.

This is good cooking but don't look for a wall of Chinese writing for the specials of the day. Don't even look for an oriental menu. There are over 150 dishes on the standard menu at Asean. All are easy to understand and none are threatening.

This is a great place for family dining, for the unadventurous who want good Oriental cooking, and for those of us who just can't make up our minds..—
Reviewed by Barry Lazar

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