Editor's note: This column was changed to correct the name of the hotel attached to the restaurant.
Dine-around bunch alumni the Retiree recently returned from her holiday sojourn out west.
Our friend arrived in Johnson City after enduring an eight-hour flight that expanded to 11-plus hours caused by bad weather flight re-routings that included an unlooked-for side trip to Tallahassee, Florida.
Happily, it wasn’t long before our friend was flying home to Tri-Cities Airport.
My dining partner and I decided to help our globetrotting friend take that deep breath, get her bearings and perhaps have a bite to eat.
The place we chose for our friend’s great unwinding was north Johnson City’s Rainbow Asian Cuisine.
Rainbow Asian Cuisine is the house restaurant for the Days Inn & Suites by Wyndham in Johnson City.
It is found just past North Roan Street’s interchange with Interstate 26. The restaurant’s sign can be seen from I-26’s bridge over North Roan. There’s ample parking out in front and around the side of the hotel.
Inside, Rainbow Asian’s calm started coaxing our friend toward serenity via the understated décor. Dark woods unadorned with faux-Asian frippery are seen in the floor, the tables, chairs and the booth side rails. The hotel’s bar is just a few steps from the restaurant, for those who feel the need. Despite the presence of a pair in the restaurant, the flat screen TVs were set on contemplative sport programs like golf and tennis, with the volume nicely turned down. Restrooms are located in an alcove near the main entrance.
Our server May was quietly friendly, professional and unobtrusive. Because we were chilled from the snow and sleet of our trip over, solicitous May seated us near the restaurant’s warming fireplace.
After giving May our drink orders, we settled in and made our choices for supper.
The Retiree, having subsisted on a diet of airline and air terminal food for the past day, chose Rainbow Asian’s Lemongrass Chicken Breast entrée ($12.95), sided with some fried rice, a stir-fried vegetable medley and a ginger salad. My dining partner decided on Rainbow Asian’s signature Shrimp Pad Thai entrée ($14.95) together with a ginger salad ($4.95). I opted for the appetizer side of the menu, choosing the Asian Sampler platter ($13.95) with my own a la carte ginger salad added.
How it tastes
All of us found the ginger salad to be fresh, varied and properly chilled. The Retiree had her salad dressed with the house creamy ginger dressing, while my dining partner and I had shrimp sauce on ours instead.
The Retiree’s Lemongrass Chicken Breast entrée was quite good, properly seasoned so that the taste of the lemongrass was just detectable within the spectrum of the other spices used in the dish. The stir-fried vegetable medley was also good, retaining much of the crunchy texture of the carrots, the broccoli and the sectioned green beans and much of its spicy flavor as well.
My dining partner’s Pad Thai used Rainbow Asian’s own lo mein noodles as its foundation, then adding fresh bean sprouts, diced spring onions and some properly prepared and very succulent shrimp. After a ride in a high-heat wok with a minimum of cooking oil and Thai spices, the Pad Thai was plated together with some peanut sauce and a slice of fresh lime. Almost an afterthought, the side of fried rice made an excellent accompaniment to my dining partner’s entrée.
My Asian Sampler was in essence a tasting plate across the spectrum of Rainbow Asian’s appetizers. I was particularly taken with the Thai fresh roll, its rice noodle, lettuce shred and shrimp filling needing only a dip or two in the sweet and sour chili sauce.
The Crab Rangoon purses were properly crunchy and filled with the creamy smooth crab filling, though the crab was not quite as evident as I’d wished. The two shrimp were just about perfect; each enrobed in a panko-ed tempura batter and correctly fried until crunchy outside, hot and savory inside.
The Thai Egg Rolls were substantial and quite tasty, especially with a touch of plum sauce added. Two skewers of Thai Chicken Satay are my new favorite way of enjoying grilled chicken tenders.
The bottom line
It is nice to know that when my dining partner and I were looking for a venue to welcome our dine-around bunch colleague back after a stressful and snowy return home, we knew we could count on Johnson City’s Rainbow Asian Cuisine to fill our requirements in every respect, and help make our friend the Retiree’s welcome home a memorable one.
See if they will do the same for you.