One of my best friends has lived in many places, including Mexico, Oregon, and Chicago. Luckily for me, she’s back in New York for a while—and that means we get to try out a ton of great restaurants together. This weekend, Todd joined us for dinner at an Asian-fusion gem, Moon Star Grill, in Riverdale, New York. This sleek spot features high-quality Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, and Japanese offerings in a setting so friendly and serene that we lingered much longer than planned, sipping hot Jasmine tea and nibbling on chilled pineapple chunks.
Though we took nearly 20 minutes to place our orders because everything on the menu sounded delicious, the waitstaff never rushed us or seemed frustrated by our indecision. Finally, we decided on soups and an appetizer to share. My friend got a steaming Wonton soup and Todd decided on a delicious La Sa Ga, a soup with curry chicken, coconut milk, and rice vermicelli. I had wanted to order the same soup, but had hesitated because it was marked with a spicy pepper on the menu; however, when I stole a sip from Todd’s bowl, I didn’t taste much heat at all, just a rich flavor that lingered in my mouth until our appetizer, fried vegetable dumplings, arrived. Crispy on the outside and filled with soft vegetables inside, they were so good that Todd offered to eat my second dumpling if I didn’t want it. I did.
Though we’d already had some soup and an appetizer, we still wanted more food. So, even though each entree came with white or brown rice, we decided to also order a plate of Bun Xao noodles to share (in the background of the picture above). We all loved the soft, stir-fried rice noodles tossed with shredded vegetables, egg, and chopped peanuts, and I took at least two helpings during the course of the meal. The noodles also came with a garlic-infused nuoc cham dipping sauce on the side. For my entree, I chose a simple Mango Shrimp dish, which I thought came with a fair amount of shrimp, a ton of mangoes, and an ample amount of sweet dipping sauce to mix my rice into. I really enjoyed this dish, though I was glad that we shared all of the entrees as a table because it might have been too much of the same sweet flavor if I had tried to finish it all myself.
While reading this review, some of you might be thinking that the dishes look like they aren’t anything special: there’s no fancy plating, they’re shining with sauce, and they might resemble the fare you could get at your local Chinese takeout place. I want to take this moment to assure you that they are so much tastier than all of my local Asian restaurants, and that this is probably one of the best casual dining spots I’ve been to in a long time. If you like variety, this is truly a great place to try out. My friend’s plate, Chicken with Ginger and Scallion Sauce, had a nice tang to it and came with crisp vegetables. Todd’s order, Bo Xao Gung, featured sliced, tender beef with red pepper, mushrooms, squash, snow peas, water chestnuts, and onions. No matter how picky of an eater you might be, I think you’ll find something to love at Moon Start Grill—and if you aren’t yet impressed by the food, then maybe the desserts can tempt you.
For dessert, we split two ice cream dishes: fried green tea ice cream and three scoops of regular pistachio ice cream. The fried ice cream was perfect: warm and slightly crisp on the outside and soft and cold on the inside, topped with a generous serving of whipped cream and a cherry. After we finished our meal, the waitstaff brought us another dessert surprise: a glass (same size as above) filled with ice and sweet pineapple chunks! By the time we left the restaurant, we felt so full, and more than satisfied with our meal. (Plus, we had leftovers for my friend to take home!)