528 Sushi & Asian Cuisine – Albuquerque, New Mexico

528 Sushi & Asian Cuisine Includes Albuquerque’s First-Ever Burmese Cuisine

No lady likes to snuggle and dine accompanied by a porcupine.”
He lit a match to check gas tank.  They call him skinless Frank.”
A man, a miss, a car, a curve.  He kissed the miss and missed the curve.”
Within this vale of toil and sin, your head goes bald but not your chin.”
Henry the Eighth sure had trouble.  Short-term wives, long-term stubble.”

Some of the more seasoned among us might remember that one of the best ways to break up the drudgery of traveling long distances on monotonous two-lane highways was to look for Burma Shave billboards.  Humorous five-line poems adorned red signs one line at a time, each line in white capitalized blocked letters about 100-feet apart.  The last line of each poem was the much anticipated punchline followed by a sign bearing the obligatory name of the then-popular shaving cream.   New Mexico was one of a handful of states not to benefit from this highly visible and very successful advertising medium.  Apparently our highways and byways were deemed to have insufficient road traffic to warrant the billboards.

As a precocious child yet to revel in hours-long explorations of the family encyclopedias, my limited knowledge of “Burma” came from my dad, the smartest man I’ve ever been blessed to know.  Even he couldn’t tell me if the shaving cream he himself used was actually developed in Burma.  In fact, he knew very little about the Southeast Asian country bordering India, Bangladesh, China, Laos and Thailand.  No one in my then limited circle knew much about Burma either (remember this was long before the internet was a glimmer in Al Gore’s eyes, back when the only “Google” was spelled “googol” and represented the number one followed by a hundred zeroes.

Lilliputian in Size, Huge in Flavors

Over the years, of course, my knowledge of Burma (much like my waistline) has increased.  Burma was on the world stage in 1989 when a ruling and violent military regime changed its name from Burma to Myanmar and its capital city from Rangoon to Yangon.  Though the United Nations officially recognized the name change, the United States and the United Kingdom still have not (although during his 2012 visit President Obama did refer to the country as Myanmar on at least one occasion).  While the despotic military junta was dissolved and a nominally civilian government was formed in 2010, a large-scale ethnic cleansing campaign triggered a massive human rights and humanitarian crisis in 2017.

My culinary knowledge of Burmese cuisine, however, has long been lacking.  I’ve always assumed that Burmese cuisine is similar to the cuisine of its bordering nations, perhaps with some country-specific nuances thrown in.  Immediately obvious from the time my culinary explanations began in earnest (circa 1977 Massachusetts), was that Crab Rangoon (despite its name) was not created in the Burmese capital.  So, despite having consumed a fair share of Crab Rangoon over the years, until my inaugural visit to 528 Sushi & Asian Cuisine on 4th Street (thank you Beth Porter), my taste buds were strangers to the diverse and flavorful foods of the storied nation.

Myanmar Style Pork and Pickled Mango Curry

528 Sushi & Asian Food is (to my knowledge) the first Duke City restaurant to offer even a modicum of Burmese food.  Some of that can be attributed to the country’s long seclusion from the world community (film maker Robert Liebermanhe once described Burma as the “second most isolated country in the world after North Korea.)”  As its name declares, the restaurant serves both sushi and Asian food.  The latter is a rather broad umbrella, but it’s readily apparent from scanning the menu over the counter that the umbrella includes Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Indian and of course, Japanese sushi. My eyes targeted dishes prefaced with “Myanmar style.”

You’ve probably surmised that the name “528”  has nothing to do with Highway 528 which runs through Rio Rancho.  The significance of the number 528 is borne from Buddha’s teachings of “metta” or loving-kindness.  “528” is used to symbolize the love within a family while the number “ 1500”  symbolizes love between partners.   That’s the way a very friendly, very shy young lady behind the counter explained it to me.  She also did her best to explain the Burmese dishes on the menu, going so far as warning me that not everyone likes the strong Indian curry used in the first dish that caught my fancy.

Spicy Vegetables Stuffed Fish Cake

13 April 2018: That would be the Myanmar style pork and pickled mango curry.  Perhaps the last dish to surprise me as much because of its sheer uniqueness was the Tortillas Florales with Indian Butter from Eloisa in Santa Fe.  Talk about a pleasant surprise!  After recently being subjected to a cavalcade of cloying curry dishes, I’d expected pretty much the same.  Instead, this was the most unique curry dish I’ve had in years, a melding of culinary cultures and techniques: pungent Indian curry, piquant Asian red chili, aromatic cilantro, potatoes reminiscent of those on Mussaman curry and of course, the sweet and mostly sour mango, all served with rice.  Every element was complementary, every bite delicious.

13 April 2018: Just as unique is the Myanmar style spicy vegetables stuffed fish cake appetizer, another theretofore new to me surprise.  I had absolutely no idea what to expect.  Surprises abounded, starting from the piquant-citrus fragrance wafting from the dish, a bouquet very reminiscent of my favorite papaya salad from An Hy Quan.  The fish cakes were the color of scallops and were split in half butterfly style.  They weren’t so much stuffed as “vegetables” (mostly julienne carrots, cabbage and cilantro)  inserted into the butterflied center of each fish cake and tossed with a piquant citrus sauce.  Texturally, the fish cakes somewhere between marshmallow soft and chewy.  Altogether, this is a terrific dish, one which must be experienced to be appreciated.


18 April 2018:  It’s always thrilling to run into culinary kindred spirits at restaurants you recommend.  John and Zelma Baldwin, globetrotters and gastronomes who have actually set food in Burma, not only visited 528 Sushi & Asian Cuisine because they read about it on Gil’s Thrilling…, they actually ordered what I recommended.   It made me very happy to see them enjoy dishes new to them and even moreso watching them study the menu as they planned what to order their next visit or five.  528 is the type of restaurant which inspires return visits.  One visit is certainly not enough when the menu is as diverse and delicious as this one.

18 April 2018: My introduction to the many of the foods of the exotic Indian subcontinent actually took place in England where our discoveries included chicken tiki masala (a dish actually invented in Scotland) and samosas.  Samosas are so beloved in England that one of the wealthiest women in the country got her start making and selling samosas from her home.  We contributed greatly to her wealth.  Samosas, triangular pastries stuffed with sundry items, are wonderful hand-held appetizers offered at many an Indian and East African restaurant.  528’s rendition is stuffed with potatoes, onions and cilantro served with a sweet-piquant chili sauce.  At five to an order, you’ll delight in biting through the crisp pastry to get to the soft potatoes-onions.

Myanmar Style Coconut Soup with Noodles

18 April 2018: After recently experiencing a cloying Thai curry dish redolent with coconut milk made even sweeter thanks to the probable addition of a spoonful or ten of sugar, 528’s Myanmar-style coconut soup with noodles (chicken, fish cake, egg, onion, coconut cream, noodles, crunchy noodles) redeemed my faith in savory coconut dishes.  Even without the curry of my cravings, this is a fabulous soup, reminiscent in some respect of ramen soups (courtesy of the hard-boiled eggs and slurp-worthy noodles).  While coconut milk is the basis for Thai curries, this Myanmar-style paragon of deliciousness is made with coconut curry which is much thicker and richer.  Sweet notes did emanate from the soup, but not dessert-sweet as some Thai curries tend to be.

20 April 2018:  Beth Porter describes the egg drop soup with noodle as “one of the best dishes in a long time. Ultimate Comfort food with great flavor.”  After prompting my first, second and third visits, Beth could recommend a brackish bowl of muddy water and I’d try it.  Thankfully the spicy and sour egg drop soup is much better than muddy water.  It’s better, in fact, than every variation of hot and soup soup in New Mexico save for perhaps the one served at the Pop-Up Dumpling House.  Served piping hot and redolent with sour notes, it’s a superb soup.  It’s also a rarity in that it combines  delicate, subtle egg drop with assertive, in-your-face spicy-and-sour and it works well.  528 offers everything from egg drop soup to Tom Yum Soup, all priced well south of a ten-spot.

Spicy and Sour Egg Drop Soup

20 April 2018:  Perhaps the only lamentable aspect of my visits to 528 has been seeing all the menu items crossed off the menu because they’re just weren’t moving.  The ten item appetizer section of the menu includes several items bearing Malcom’s last name (X).  One of the remaining items is pork balls (not pictured), eight pork meatballs served with a piquant sauce.  Each about the size of a small jawbreaker candy, they’re tinged with five spice, perhaps the most harmonious quitumvirate of spices available with notes of star anise, cinnamon, cloves, fennel and Szechwan peppercorns.

20 April 2018:  Save for the Chinese sausage fried rice at  Ming Dynasty, I long ago gave up on finding great fried rice in the Duke City area. Fortunately my friend Bill Resnik doesn’t give up as easily. With Marco Polo-like passion, he persists in his search for a fabulous fried rice. He found two at 528: the Indian-style fried rice and the spicy fried rice.  The latter is in rarefied air, right up there with Ming Dynasty’s transformative Chinese sausage fried rice.  It’s got most of the same components (rice, egg, onion, garlic, tomato, bok-choy, carrot, green peas, pepper) of other fried rice dishes we’ve had, but unlike others, it’s not clumpy, gummy and starchy.  Every grain is impregnated with stir-fried deliciousness, every ingredient in perfect proportion to the others.  You’ll want to eat a mountain of this stuff!

Spicy Fried Rice

20 April 2018: 528’s inventory of Myanmar-style dishes is fairly limited and not all of them are prefaced with the term “Myanmar-style” so it pays to ask.  The quaintly named Ka-Chin Style Spicy Chicken may trigger recollections of the sound of a mechanical cash register when an amount is rung up popularized in Wayne’s World, but Ka-Chin is actually the northernmost state of Myanmar, a region inhabited by a confederation of ethnic groups.  If all their cuisine is as delicious as 528’s Ka Chin-style spicy chicken, I may just have to move there.  My friend Bill described this dish best–“intensely flavored.”  In this case “spicy” doesn’t mean “piquant” though there’s a bit of heat in this dish.  There are also savory, tart, pungent and sweet notes with the tart-pungent combination taking it to the nth degree.  This beauteous dish is made with tender, thin slices of chicken breast, red pepper, jalapeño, Thai basil, Vietnamese coriander and tamarind and it’s served with rice which takes some of the oomph out of its flavor bombardment qualities.

Ka-Chin Style Spicy Chicken

20 April 2018: If you want a dish that’s not nearly as intensive and every bit as delicious as the Ka-Chin style spicy chicken, 528’s spicy chicken basil (chicken, onion, bell pepper, jalapeño, green beans, baby corn, Thai basil) is your hook-up.  Thai basil (horapa) adds a subtle anise-licorice flavor and perfume to every dish in which it’s used.  Those qualities are exemplified on this absolutely mouth-watering dish.  You’ll appreciate the crisp, fresh vegetables as much as you will the thin ribbons of breast meat chicken.  You’ll want to bathe every morsel of rice in the sweet-savory sauce.  Heck, you might want to dab a little of it on the back of your neck to hold onto it a bit longer.

Spicy Chicken Basil

20 April 2018: The affable owner (and shame on me for not knowing his name after three visits) learned how to make sushi in Pennsylvania and honed his skills in Oregon.  He’s been living in Albuquerque for twelve years now and believes he’ll stay.  He actually rented the space which currently houses his restaurant so he’d have the kitchen space to prepare sushi for his clients.  For year’s he had the sushi concession at Kirtland AFB’s commissary and now prepares sushi for the cafes at UNM’s north campus.  He operates 528 with his wife and father-in-law, allowing him to keep his prices ridiculously (and I do mean ridiculously) low.  Sushi at 528 will cost you about half what you’d pay at other sushi restaurants in the city–and it’s good stuff! 

At his recommendation, my first uramaki roll at 528 was the New Mexico roll (green chile, cucumber, avocado).  As often seems to be the case, Bill and I wondered how sushi restaurants manage to prepare green chile better than so many New Mexican restaurants do.  528’s green chile has the alluring roasted flavor aficionados love and enough piquancy so that you won’t need wasabi.  The vinegared rice wrap lends a sweet contrast to the piquancy of the green chile.  At ten individual pieces of sushi for under six dollars, this value-priced sushi is better than sushi twice its price.

New Mexico Roll

Sadly, my inquiry as to which of the listed desserts to try was met with the disappointing news that all were discontinued because they weren’t being ordered by guests. If they were as surprisingly delicious as the entree and appetizer, they would have been glorious.  528 Sushi & Asian Cuisine is set in a Lilliputian storefront with seating for no more than four people.  This little gem is too good to remain a hidden secret!

528 Sushi & Asian Cuisine
5312 4th Street, N.W.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 345-2104
LATEST VISIT: 20 April 2018
1st VISIT: 13 April 2018
COST: $$
BEST BET: Spicy Vegetables Stuffed Fish Cake, Myanmar Style Pork and Pickled Mango Curry, Samosas, Myanmar Style Coconut Soup with Noodles
REVIEW #1037

528 Sushi & Asian Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Rising Star Chinese Eatery – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Rising Star Chinese Eatery

Let’s get one thing straight. General Tso’s chicken is not some weird cold war Chinese one-upmanship response to Colonel Sanders’ Kentucky Fried Chicken. In other words, China did not deliberately seek to outdo the United States by creating a chicken dish and naming it for a General, a rank superior to the rank of Colonel. Not even close! Back in the early 50s, Colonel Harlan Sanders actually did create a revolutionary way of preparing poultry (pressure fried, eleven herbs and spices, yada, yada, yada).  General Zuo Zongtang (romanized as Tso Tsung-t’ang), on the other hand, did not create the dish named for him. Nor did he ever eat it. In fact, he never even heard of it. It wasn’t even invented in China…or at least, not in mainland China. So, just who was General Tso and why does America love his chicken?

General “Tso” was a war hero who expelled thousands of rebels from China during its fourteen year civil war. It could be said the rebels turned chicken and ran, but that’s about as close as the General ever got to the battered and sauced chicken dish bearing his name. If anything, you can credit another Chinese leader, the infamous Chairman Mao Zedong for being the inadvertent catalyst behind the invention of the dish (and who would want to name a dish for him). When Mao ascended to chairmanship of the Chinese Communist Party, many of the classical chefs who had served the court fled to Taiwan. Among them was Chef Peng Chang-kuei who became a successful restaurateur in his adopted homeland. In the 1950s, Peng created a dish he named in honor of General Tso.

The Dining Room

When immigration laws in the fruited plain were relaxed, enterprising Taiwanese chefs brought with them Chinese dishes theretofore unknown in the United States. Many of them were radical departures from stereotypical Chinese-American dishes (such as chop suey) popular at the time. Among the captivating new dishes was General Tso’s chicken which was “Americanized” to suit native palates. Over the years it has done more than just suit American palates. It’s become one of the most popular of all “Chinese” dishes and is served in Chinese restaurants throughout the fruited plain though it’s not necessarily prepared exactly the same way from one restaurant to another.

After watching “Hunt For General Tso,” a hilarious TED talk by Jennifer Lee (author of  The Fortune Cookie Chronicles), inexplicable cravings began gnawing at me for this most mysteriously named of Chinese dishes.  But where should my cravings be sated?  Would it be one of my tried-and-true favorites Budai Gourmet Chinese, Ming Dynasty or Chopstix, all of whom would undoubtedly serve me a delicious version of the dish?  Then it hit me.  Why not try a restaurant I’d never before visited?  Why not try the Rising Star Chinese Eatery, the most popular Chinese restaurant in the Land of Enchantment?

Crab Rangoon

Who says it’s the most popular Chinese restaurant in New Mexico?  24/7 Wall St., a financial news and opinion company with content delivered over the Internet, says so.  According to the internet media presence, there are approximately 41,000 Chinese eateries across the fruited plain. “In recognition of Chinese cuisine’s proud place in the American culinary tradition,” 24/7 Wall St. created a list of the most popular Chinese restaurants in each state. Employing criteria as complicated as Chinese logograms and which included Yelp reviews as well as dozens of restaurants reviews, polls, and other internet sources, the best from among the Land of Enchantment’s 166 Chinese restaurants was deemed to be Albuquerque’s Rising Star Chinese Eatery which has an average Yelp rating of 4.5 stars.

If you’ve never heard of or visited Rising Star, you’re not alone. Despite favorable reviews from both Albuquerque Journal and Alibi critics, not everyone has had a reason to visit the San Antonio Drive area just west of Wyoming. It’s a very nice neighborhood, but not necessarily centrally located–and it’s not (yet?) a dining destination as it has very few options. One of them, Taco Shel is in the same nondescript strip mall as Rising Star which itself occupies a space in which another Chinese restaurant previously resided. Rising Star is family owned and operated. Like the creator of General Tso’s chicken, the owner came from Taiwan and has more than three decades in the food industry. Rising Star has been serving Duke City diners since 2014.

Hot and Sour Soup

As with so many Chinese restaurants across the city, Rising Star follows a pretty standard template that includes a lot of food for very little cost. For both lunch and dinner, a number of combination meals are available for several dollars less than you’d pay for an appetizer alone at other restaurants. Lunch and dinner combinations are served with your choice of rice (with noodle substitution for a pittance), soup and an egg roll. Should you care to explore the menu and order something other than the combination plates, you’ll find a phalanx of options: appetizers, soups, fried rice, veggies, noodles, chicken, beef, pork, shrimp and chef specialties. Gluten-free, low carb and low sodium options are available upon request.

Alas, my menu exploration was brief because General Tso beckoned. Shortly after placing my order, a server delivered an order of Crab Rangoon, a dish whose origin is in dispute. Some claimants believe it’s strictly an American dish; the fact that one of its chief ingredients is Philadelphia cream cheese lends credence to that theory. Others contend the dish was invented in Myanmar whose capital city was once named Rangoon. At any regard, the crispy star-shaped wontons stuffed with cream cheese, crab and sundry ingredients is a popular starter not very common in China. Thankfully Rising Star doesn’t sweeten the cream cheese as so many other Chinese restaurants do though it does serve its Crab Rangoon with a luminous sweet sauce. You’ll enjoy them more without that sauce. You’ll enjoy them even more if they’re misdirected to your table and you’re not charged for them as was the case with me. Though I offered to pay for them, the genial owner insisted “they’re on the house.”

General Tso’s Chicken with Fried Rice and Egg Roll

Rising Star’s version of General Tso’s chicken features breaded dark meat chicken lacquered with a chili-spiked sweet and sour (mostly sweet) sauce. Perhaps in deference to American tastes, the chili lacked any bite. In deference to the palates of chile-loving New Mexicans, it should have had piquancy a plenty. To my tastes (I rarely order Americanized Chinese food), there wasn’t much to distinguish the dish from other fried, breaded, sweet sauced chicken dish. The popularity of the dish seems to indicate most diners enjoy it this way. The accompanying egg roll, hot and sour soup and rice were rather on the ordinary side, but considering the cheap eats price point, that was expected.

Being named the most popular Chinese restaurant in New Mexico is quite a coup for Rising Star. A very favorable cost to portion ratio is just one reason. The staff treats guests very well and is on the spot with refills when you need them.

Rising Star Chinese Eatery
7001 San Antonio Drive, N.E., Suite S
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 821-6595
Web Site | Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT: 2 April 2018
COST: $ – $$
BEST BET:  General Tso’s Chicken, Crab Rangoon, Fried Rice, Egg Roll, Hot and Sour Soup
REVIEW #1035

Rising Star Chinese Eatery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Birds Paradise Hot Pot – Albuquerque, New Mexico

The Birds Paradise Hot Pot, a Unique Dining Experience

It was 2:15AM on a workday, a full four hours before my dreaded alarm clock was set to utter a tone surpassed for annoyance only by the screechy prattle on The View.  Inexplicably my brain decided it was a good idea to play deejay and serenade me with Sukiyaki, the only Japanese pop song ever to top the charts across the fruited plain.  Yep, my mind had been invaded by an earworm, a song that sticks with you long after the note is played.   Akin to a broken record (millennials may have read about “records” in their history books) scratching the same chords over and over again, earworms can be nostalgic and pleasant or annoying and torturous, especially when they visit in the middle of the night. 

Compounding this earworm is that the version of Sukiyaki stuck in my head was the Japanese version, not the only with English translations.  So instead of repeating lyrics I understand, my mind was trying to replay incomprehensible Japanese phrases.  Sukiyaki is not one of those tunes for which “la la la la la” will work.  “Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah” works a little better, but it sounds a bit disrespectful.  Replaying an earworm over and over when you don’t know the lyrics is an adventure in futility and frustration.  At least, I consoled myself, it wasn’t Gangham Style, The Macarena or Achy Breaky Heart (and if reading those song titles triggered your own earworm, you probably hate me right now).

The Sauce and Spice Cart

The funny thing is “suki” translates from Japanese to “slice thinly” and “yaki” translates to “boil or sear.”  Put them “together and you’ve got Sukiyaki, a Japanese noodle dish with stir-fried vegetables and some sort of protein (pork, chicken, beef, fish) in a delicious broth.  Other than its title, the song haunting me that night has absolutely nothing to do with the dish called Sukiyaki.  Had Sukiyaki the song been about Sukiyaki the noodle dish, it would have made sense as my mind and stomach sometimes conspire to create dreams about a food I crave.  Those types of dreams recess quickly, but earworms persist in their annoyance, much like winter in Buffalo, New York (a veiled shout-out to my friend Becky Mercuri who’s probably shoveling another foot of snow off her driveway). 

Japanese Sukiyaki is but one form of hot pot cooking.  Most Asian culinary cultures have their own versions of hot pot dishes, but the genesis of this cooking style is China.  History tells of invading Mongol horsemen rigging their shields over campfires to sear meat and turning up those helmets in the embers to simmer soup.  Put the seared meat and soup together and you’ve got a hot pot dish (not to mention the heads of Mongol hordes smelling like delicious soup).  Hot pot has since been one of China’s signature dishes with regional variations accounting for a diversity of ingredients and proteins. 

Veggie Tempura with Tempura Sauce and Spicy Mayo

One commonality throughout Asia is the communal nature of traditional hot pot meals.  Families and friends still gather around a steaming hot pot not only to escape winter’s biting chill, but to spend convivial time together in spirited conversation and fellowship.  Unlike gobble and go meals across the fruited plain, a leisurely hot pot meal can last for hours. Sure, western cultures have fondue, the hearty tradition of spearing and eating gooey, melted cheese and rich, decadent chocolate, but it’s not quite the same as Asian hot pot.

Eating Chinese hot pot is a participatory event which typically begins well before diners are gathered around a communal table. First, soup stock is prepared, a laborious process involving the boiling of beef, pork or (and) chicken bones for a lengthy period of time. Meat is then sliced into thin strips as other fresh (an absolute must) ingredients and sauces are carefully prepared and placed around the table. Then and only then do diners begin the fun part. First they select morsels of prepared raw food and place them into the steaming soup stock until they cook. Diners then fish the cooked proteins and vegetables out of the soup and dip them in their sauce of choice. Of course, they also ladle up the broth and enjoy it, too.

Chili Puff

The Bird Paradise Hot Pot, the Duke City’s first restaurant dedicated to the time-honored tradition of Chinese hot pot cooking opened its doors in November, 2017. It’s ensconced in a very unlikely International District location, essentially next door to the Bird Discount Liquors store and in the front part of a space which houses a bar behind the restaurant. In fact, many of the bar’s patrons walk through the restaurant to get to the bar (and they might just stop to ogle your plate). If you’re familiar with the spot previously held by Antonio’s Cafe & Cantina, you know the space. At present there’s no permanent signage to indicate you’ve made it to the Bird Paradise Hot Pot, just a banner indicating “Now Open.”

A dead give-away that you’ve arrived is the aromas emanating from tables in which other diners are enjoying their hot pot experience.  Those aromas are positively intoxicating.  Much as you may want to begin your own hot pot indulgence, ten appetizers beckon.  Veggie tempura, seven pieces of crispy, lightly coated delights including sweet potato, eggplant and zucchini is an excellent choice if you want smaller fare.  The tempura veggies are served with two dipping sauces, a sweet tempura sauce and spicy mayo with just enough bite to earn its name.  It’s not a mind-blowing way to start an inaugural hot pot experience, but it’ll sate you until the main event.

Pork Hot Pot with Ramen Noodles

More satisfying is a New Mexico meets China starter called Chili Puff, two pieces of green chile lightly coated in tempura batter and stuffed with cream cheese and crab meat with spicy mayo and eel sauce on top.  Fire-eaters might want the green chile just a tad more piquant and the spicy mayo doesn’t add additional heat to counterbalance the sweetness of the eel sauce, the slightly sour, slightly salty cream cheese and the faintly fishy, briny flavor of the crab meat.  Still, it’s a very pleasant appetizer.  Cut it into inch-long slices and you could call it green chile sushi sans the vinegared rice.

There are seven hot pot options on the menu: vegetable, pork, chicken, beef, lamb, seafood and “water-land” (fish, squid, shrimp, scallop, oyster, beef, pork and chicken).  All hot pot dishes are served with your choice of rice or dongfen (organic rice noodles) as well as the hot pot base, a soup stock made by boiling pork, beef and chicken bones for eight to twelve hours.  Obviously, a veggie-based soup stock is used for the vegetable hot pot dish.  Each hot pot dish also includes cabbage, carrots, flammulina (golden needle mushrooms), ice tofu, green onion and inch-long corn on the cob.  If you’re of the carnivorous bent, you also get imitation crab and a beef meatball or pork meatball.

Lamb Hot Pot with Rice Noodles

Instead of raw ingredients presented at our table for us to cook over the tabletop hot pot stove, our server ferried to our table a steaming hot pot pan bubbling with broth, vegetables and our choice of protein (pork hot pot for my Kim and lamb hot pot for me).  Our proteins arrived eighty-percent cooked.  We were instructed to submerge the uncooked proteins under the broth and told those proteins would finish cooking in about two minutes.  Once cooked, we extricated those proteins and vegetables and immersed them quickly into the dipping sauce our server helped us concoct (chile oil, sesame, garlic, soy sauce along with cilantro and green onion for me).  Throughout our meal, as the level of broth dropped because of evaporation and our slurping, our server replenished it faithfully.  Our inaugural hot pot experience proved as delicious as it was enjoyable.  Chinese hot pot is every bit as good as many Vietnamese phos and Thai soups we’ve enjoyed over the years–and it’s more fun.

From an experiential standpoint, the Birds Paradise Hot Pot is unlike any other restaurant in the Duke City.  From the perspective of service, its a bastion of hospitality and kindness.  From a culinary point of view, it’s hot pot dishes are delicious and comforting.  For this earworm-haunted blogger, it’s what I’ll think of when Sukiyaki visits me again.

The Birds Paradise Hot Pot
5407 Gibson Blvd., S.E
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 255-3151
Web Site | Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT: 12 January 2018
COST: $$
BEST BET: Lamb Hot Pot with Rice Noodles, Pork Hot Pot with Ramen Noodles, Veggie Tempura, Chili Puff

Birds Paradise Hot Pot Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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