If you can't decide if dinner should be Chinese, Japanese or Thai, go to Mosa Asian Bistro for the flavors of all three cuisines.
For a little more than three years, Memphians have been dining at the original Mosa, a pleasant but plain restaurant at Poplar and Kirby Parkway.
Now there is a new Mosa in the heart of East Memphis offering the familiar menu with an ambience that is contemporary but warm; casual but chic.
Owner Eddie Pao, who founded the traditionally Chinese Formosa, and his children Michelle Pao Levine and Alex Pao, have made it even more tantalizing at night by replacing counter orders with table service.
We dove into the experience with three appetizers. First out were lettuce leaf wraps featuring a slightly sweet and crunchy mixture of diced chicken breast, mushrooms, water chestnuts
and scallions. We rolled most of it in crisp iceberg lettuce leaves and ate the rest with our forks.
Because we can't seem to have a Chinese meal without them, we enjoyed an order of potstickers, the familiar pan-fried dumplings.
Being an herb lover, I was intrigued by the basil rolls on the menu. A large fresh basil leaf was visible under the translucent rice paper enclosing a mixture of lettuce, carrots, bean sprouts and transparent noodles.
The flavor isn't exciting if you eat it all by itself, but dipping each bite into a tasty peanut sauce takes it to a more savory level.
Most of the entrees fall into two categories -- noodle bowls or rice plates available with white or brown rice. Customers choose a basic dish such as pad Thai or teriyaki, and then select chicken, beef, shrimp and/or tofu to add in.
And you can have it prepared to your own hot-and-spicy quotient of mild, medium or hot.
Mosa's pad Thai, which we ordered with shrimp, met our expectations. A generous portion of rice noodles, a generous number of sautéed shrimp and some vegetables were laced with a traditional sauce and topped with chopped peanuts.
Another noodle dish, Singapore curry we ordered with chicken, was an interesting blend of carrots, green beans, mushrooms, Napa cabbage, red pepper, cilantro and the curry flavoring. It's a reflection of the influence of India as well as China and Malaysia on the cuisine of Singapore.
My daughter, who loves Japanese food, relished the tender pieces of chicken and crisp-tender carrots, red pepper, zucchini and green beans bathed in a tasty teriyaki sauce and served with a giant mound of white rice.
The menu also has a few specialty items that don't fit into the rice or noodle category, and we decided to try one of them, steamed sea bass in a soy-ginger demi-glaze. Steaming makes fish moist and flaky but doesn't add much flavor the way other cooking methods do, despite the addition of aromatics in the water. That's why the sweet and slightly salty brown glaze is so important to the dish.
It was served with enough steamed fresh spinach and brown rice to share and take home for another meal.
The restaurant has plans to add some more special entrees including bulgogi, Korean beef barbecue.
You can end your meal with an American tradition, fortune cookies, or choose a slice of New York-style or chocolate cheesecake, carrot cake or chocolate-covered strawberries.
We were glad we opted for a sweet but not too heavy choice -- four huge strawberries with half dipped in white chocolate and drizzled with dark chocolate and the others with the reverse.
Our waiter was eager to please and completely familiar with the menu. Who could ask for more?
p>MOSA ASIAN BISTRO
Address: 850 S. White Station
Telephone: (901) 683-8889
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Sunday.
Handicapped access: Yes
Alcoholic beverages: Domestic and imported beer; $6 corkage fee for wine; wine license should be in place by mid-February.
Don't miss: Chicken lettuce wraps, pad Thai, Singapore curry.