In a word: Some dishes are really good. Some are just OK. But it's all served hot with really fresh veggies.
JM ate the sweet and sour shrimp with a Mountain Dew and worked the January 1982 Atlantic Monthly cryptic crossword. His fortune was, "Your dearest wish will come true."
Nichole ate the sesame chicken and hot and sour soup. Her fortune was, "Golden investment opportunities are arising."
John ate the cashew chicken and a diet Pepsi. His fortune was, "Someone wants to know you better."
Rose ate the beef and pea pods. Her fortune was, "You will find much fulfillment with someone special soon."
Kayla ate the young chow fried rice. Her fortune was, "Executive ability is prominent in your makeup."
The bill was $49, or $9.80/person, plus tip. Thanks, Dad!
JM, John and Rose gave Asia Express a B; Nichole and Kayla gave Asia Express a B+ (see our grading rubric).
This was the first trip we managed to coordinate with other diners. For being in such a fancy-schmancy new Olde DowneTowne-type mall on Madison's far west side, the decor at Asia Express appeared incongruously inexpensive. (The last line in our notes says "cute pancakes," but it's probably referring to the pandas painted in the foyer. Which are very cute.) The dining area was spotless and sunny, with a big goldfish tank near the order counter.
The food was served very hot, just a couple minutes after we seated ourselves. The flimsy plastic forks were an incentive to use chopsticks, which John said made the food taste better. Mountains of white rice accompanied the meal (we forgot to ask if brown rice was available), as did five unremarkable-tasting fortune cookies.
The hot and sour soup was a disappointment - it had a strong overtone of something reminiscent of a county fair. As for the main meals, JM's sweet and sour shrimp came with far too many onions. The real finds were Kayla's young chow fried rice, which was spicy and flavorful, and John's cashew chicken, which came in a rich sauce with nice mushrooms (but too many carrots). Rose's beef and pea pods and Nichole's sesame chicken were both above average.
After the meal, we thought about going across the parking lot to Atlanta Bread Co. for coffee and cookies so we could tick another place off the list right away, but JM - of all people! - talked us out of it.