Here Asian Cuisine, a 4-month-old restaurant in Roanoke, has exacting operating hours — on most weekdays it opens for dinner at 4:15 p.m. and closes at 9:45 p.m. — and precise, ultra-modern decor.
Call the restaurant at a busy time, and they might just hang up on you.
If the food weren’t so agreeable, such compulsive and quirky behavior would be hard to swallow.
Such was the experience when I went there — you know, Here, which makes the most of an innocuous frontage-road location, as if to taunt those who still believe that bustling Roanoke is merely synonymous with Babe’s Chicken and cows.
LED displays, colored fountains and a blue under-lit bar fly in the face of the town’s once-bucolic reputation. So does a portion of the sushi menu that spans the United States, with 50 rolls, each named for a different state.
Normally, it might be a tough decision, but for us, it was relatively easy to choose, emphasis on the “relative.” My brother had just returned from a short trip to Boston, so the Massachusetts roll ($15.50) beckoned. We paired it with the Texas roll ($12.50) for a friendly competition.
Of course Texas proved victorious, even if the rolls shared almost identical ingredients. Both had shrimp tempura and crab. But the Texas roll kept it simple with the addition of avocado and spicy mayo.
The Massachusetts roll was a mess, covered in crab meat mixed with a wasabi mayo. Way too much of the condiment covered the pieces, making for an unctuous roll that had us actually forgetting what was inside.
Speaking of innards, the lobster spring rolls ($6.25 for two) capitalized on the murky waters of what lay within: Even though the menu said the roll had mango and peppers, all I tasted was cream cheese — with a vague lobster aura — but that is never, ever a bad thing.
The firecracker scallops ($14.50) looked to be fried bay scallops, and the generous portion was served with a dusting of minced garlic and onions. Crunchy then creamy, the scallops were a great counterpoint to the fried rice ($2.50).
In the veritable feast, we also tried the spare ribs ($6.50 for two; good flavor, a little dry), orange-peel beef ($15.95, same) and the shrimp with lobster sauce ($12.95, thin sauce), and after bulking up, we caught up with each other’s lives.
We usually need no excuse to meet to eat, but doing it Here proved just the thing.
Here Asian Cuisine
- 860 E. Texas 114, No. 600, Roanoke
- Hours: 11 a.m.-2:45 p.m. and 4:15-9:45 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-2:45 p.m. and 4:15-10:15 p.m. Friday, 11:30 a.m.-10:15 p.m. Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Sunday