Staff Picks: Best Asian Food In State College
Downtown State College offers a wide variety of delicious Asian cuisine at a number of restaurants. Whether you pick it up or have it delivered to your dorm by Order Up, everyone here finds their own Asian restaurant that they love and simply can’t resist. It doesn’t matter if it’s sushi, hibachi, General Tso’s, or even Pho, students can attest to having that one restaurant they can always count on for an incredible meal, and the members of the Onward State staff made their cases for the restaurants they love.
Tim Reams – Pho 11
I’m going to throw a major curveball here, but I can assure you that Pho 11 is the hands down best Asian restaurant in State College. For those of you who don’t know, Pho is the greatest Asian dish since white rice. It slightly varies depending on the region, but the famous Vietnamese dish is a ginger based broth with rice noodles, a fresh array of vegetables, including bean sprouts and cilantro, and finally to make it the signature Pho, it is topped off with a raw meat of your choice (traditionally thin sliced beef) that is steam cooked from the broth. Hoisin sauce, fresh lime, and Sriracha are the three final touches to the incredible dish that push it to the next level of deliciousness. Coming to State College, I never thought anyone would know what Pho even was, and I especially didn’t think there would be an entire restaurant dedicated to Pho. I fell in love with the savory dish in middle school when my best friend’s parents introduced me to their traditional South Vietnamese delicacy, and when I came to State College, I was shocked to learn that Pho 11 existed. I tried Pho 11 within my first week here, and whenever I’m missing my best friend or his family’s incredible dish, I can indulge with a bowl of Pho from Pho 11 to feel like I’m home again. The restaurant has a wide variety of options for Pho where you can add or take away whatever your heart desires. The options are endless, and it’s entirely up to you to cater the dish to your own liking. I can assure you that you will never be disappointed with the Pho from Pho 11.
Ben Rappaport – Tadashi Japanese Restaurant
When you think of Asian restaurants around State College, you think of the usual places- Big Bowl, Hunan Wok, etc. Tadashi Japanese Restaurant is the premier Asian restaurant that everyone should know about, yet somehow it consistently flies under the radar. A small shop tucked in between buildings on West College, Tadashi oozes authenticity. Whether you’re looking for sushi or noodle bowls, Tadashi has a little bit of everything. Their Spicy Miso Ramen is perhaps a top five favorite food of mine to get in State College. Blending Japanese culture with delicious, flavor packed food, Tadashi is really unlike any other Asian restaurant in State College. You won’t find the consistency anywhere else. And their sushi is the greatest in State College, ranging from regular rolls like shrimp tempura and eel cucumber to specialty rolls like the Deep Fried Roll and the Anger Dragon. I’m not even kidding when I say the Anger Dragon Roll comes out lit on fire. It is an incredibly unique experience and something I completely recommend to everyone. People who are bit more on the adventurous side will love being able to experiment with some really interesting meals. Tadashi really has a little bit of everything for everyone. It is by far the best, it isn’t even a competition really, and anyone who has actually gone to Tadashi knows this.
Ethan Kasales – Lychee Resto
Without a doubt, my favorite Chinese food spot in town has gotta be Lychee. While it’s a bit of a hike from campus and downtown (located in the same shopping plaza as Papa John’s on South Atherton), Lychee offers everything I look for when indulging in Americanized Chinese cuisine.
The staff at Lychee is very nice, and orders can typically be picked up or delivered quickly without the quality suffering. My go-to dish is shrimp with broccoli and steamed dumplings. Simply put, I have yet to come across a Chinese joint I enjoy more than Lychee.
Ben Berkman – Little Szechuan
We declared Little Szechuan the “best State College Asian restaurant you’ve never heard of” last October. Now, after its summer-long closure due to renovations, it’s hands down the best Asian restaurant in State College, period.
All the things that made Little Szechuan great before its renovation remain, and the reconstruction fixed most of its issues. Still, there is the diverse menu and quick service. But added now is seating for a hundred (the small size was its initial greatest weakness) and a tank of lobsters and fresh seafood for even more refined dishes.
But what sets Little Szechuan apart from other Asian restaurants in town is simply the quality of the food. Sure, you can get a somewhat decent chicken low mein or General Tsos dish anywhere. Only at Little Szechuan, however, can you find triple cooked pork or sizzling dumplings in chilly sauce that rival Chinatown staples in major cities.
Steffen Blanco – Big Bowl Noodle House
I’ve taken this stance before in a different article, but I’ll defend Big Bowl Noodle House until the day I die. As a person who frequents Big Bowl on an almost religious basis since my freshman year, I can say that this place is the best Asian food I’ve had. Sure, at first I was apprehensive about it when I heard about their no credit card policy (I embarrassingly had to go to the ATM in McLanahan’s when I first went there cause I had no cash), but when I gave it a chance, I immediately fell in love and what blossomed was a long term love that can never be broken.
Big Bowl has served me numerous times during my collegiate career at Penn State and I can honestly say I’ve never had any problems with the food they provided or their service. Sure, they have a cash only policy and no delivery, but they what they lack in “luxury” they make up for with their generous portions and the deliciousness that is their food. Big Bowl is a place to go whenever, whether it’s for that hangover breakfast after a night of alcohol and regret or a first date. With a wide variety of dishes to choose from, an atmosphere that is welcoming to everyone, and a location right in downtown State College, Big Bowl Noodle House is by far the best Asian restaurant around.
Everyone has their favorite Asian cuisine downtown. Let us know in the comment section what your favorite is.