Korean is perhaps the safest bet, for two reasons. First, non-Koreans are not usually interested in the food. They might enjoy Bul-Gogi but there will be plenty of other dishes for Korean patrons and these will not be “dumbed down.” The lack of mainstream interest limits the potential for sell-out behavior on the part of the restaurant. Second, many Korean dishes, most of all the pickled vegetables, “travel” relatively well and do fine in a culture — the USA — which is not obsessed with fresh ingredients.
Tyler Cowen: Which are the “safest” cuisines? He nominates Chinese as the most dangerous (in terms of the likelihood of getting a bad meal). I heard once that there are more Chinese restaurants in America than McDonalds and Wendy’s combined. With those kinds of numbers, the odds are never going to be very good.
December 23, 2009 at 12:06 pm
Chinese is certainly a crapshoot. However, the Jade Garden in Raleigh is excellent. It’s one of the only Chinese places I eat in Raleigh. For Korean, Waba on Hillsborough Street is good. It’s nothing fancy, but certainly good for the price.
December 23, 2009 at 12:09 pm
Locally, I hear Super Wok in Cary is the best Chinese place. My favorite Korean place is Vit Goal at 54 and 55.
December 23, 2009 at 1:42 pm
I remember reading a story a couple ago, I think about the gent who runs the Duck & Dumpling about how the American palate for Chinese has changed over the years. 30 years ago, chow mien -was- “Chinese food.” Apparently, it’s possible to have more adventuresome dishes at a Chinese restaurant now. Yay.
I’m not surprised that Mexican is right up there. Even TexMex has gotten this very dulled sense of seasoning most places. I’m tempted to visit one of the taco trucks outside an area soccer field.
Tibetan, on the other hand, I’ve exactly once (Paris) and it was astoundingly good.
January 1, 2010 at 11:21 pm
Korean food is definitely not “safe” for vegetarians. My girlfriend is Korean, and we both have Korean cuisine often.
Unlike most Chinese restaurants who have become accustomed to vegetarian diners (good luck trying to find something decent & vegetarian at McDonalds or Wendy’s), Korean restaurants tend not to be.
Also, like your average Chinese dish, Korean food often contains some kind of meat, be it pork, beef, or any other creatively slaughtered animal (i.e. dog).