All of my Lunch Break pieces so far have focused on very traditional sandwich joints. But one of the great things about working in downtown Albany is that there are quite a few different ethnic restaurants that offer lunch specials, particularly on Lark Street and the beginning stretch of Central Ave. One relative newcomer to the scene is TapAsia on Lark Street, which offers Thai and Vietnamese cuisine (although the lunch menu seemed predominantly Thai to me).
The concept at TapAsia is supposed to be “Asian Tapas,” but the lunch menu didn’t really have many tapas options. Perhaps the dinner menu sticks more to this theme. The lunch offerings mostly included bento boxes (with various curry dishes or teriyaki), stir fry, and noodle dishes.
My lunch companion ordered the red curry bento box with shrimp and opted for a “hot” level of spiciness.
The main portion of the meal was delicious, with a smooth coconut flavor and some full bodied curry spice (perhaps a little too spicy for me). We also enjoyed the two little fried gyoza that came with the meal. But our one overall comment on this dish was that the portions were a little bit lacking. The salad was really just lettuce with a light dressing, and the biggest part of the box was filled with white rice. The meal did come with a (small) miso soup as an appetizer.
I decided to try the pad thai with chicken, which was also served with a miso soup and a small salad.
Although still not a huge meal by any means, I found the portion size on this dish to be fairly satisfying when I was done eating. The sauce had an interesting sweetness to it, and the noodles were a little on the sticky side (in a good way). Overall, I thought the flavors were there, and I liked having the lime and peanut crumbles on the side so I could add as much or as little as I wanted. The single fried harumaki roll was a bit bland, and only having one little serving there made it seem unnecessary.
I’ve heard some say that Lark Street already has enough Asian restaurants, but I tend to think there’s always room for more of something if it’s done right. TapAsia has all the right ingredients to be successful, with bright Thai flavors and friendly service. I would like to see the portions slightly amped up (especially with most lunches hovering around the $10 mark) and I do wish that there was more of a tapas/small plate offering on the lunch menu. But overall we enjoyed our meal enough to want to come back and try the larger dinner menu sometime.