When you step out of your vehicle in the parking lot of Warsaw’s Asian-Cajun Seafood Company restaurant, there’s one telltale sign you’ll notice immediately that will confirm you’ve made the right decision – the smell. It wafts from the insides of the waterfront building like a siren song calling out to wayward sailors, except in this case with a far less nefarious outcome.
I typically like to wait at least a few months before visiting new restaurants as it’s not really fair to pass judgement on a dining establishment still going through growing pains. In this case, I decided to give it a go and if the experience was less than satisfactory, I would just keep my mouth shut. To put it simply – there’s no need to be nice and say nothing. The choice to go was the right one on my part (patting my back) and as you’ll see shortly, the decision to go on Thirsty Thursday was another excellent executive decision by yours truly.
Asian-Cajun is located in the building that was previously occupied by Redwood Firewood and a litany of other restaurants. Perched on the eastern shore of Center Lake, the restaurant offers a large outside deck that spans the whole length of the restaurant, a dock for boaters and sunset views to keep you coming back. The interior has been updated a little from its Redwood Firewood days.
While there is a separate bar area from the main dining room, family seating is available throughout the whole restaurant with the bar stools at the bar the only space off limit to people under 21 (no longer applies – see update below). Floor to ceiling windows offer expansive views of Center Lake. With the multiple levels of dining available, every seat in the house has a water view.
The most significant issue facing restaurants nowadays has been finding employees which, in my personal experience, has resulted in a significant drop in the level of customer service across the industry. Our experience at Asian-Cajun, however, was quite the opposite of this unfortunate trend. We were politely seated right away and our waitress, Christina (who also functions as the bar manager), couldn’t have been better. In spite of her dual roles, she was knowledgeable, friendly, courteous, outgoing and fast. She would be an asset to any restaurant but she is especially valuable to a brand new one still figuring things out.
One aspect of our dining experience that didn’t surprise me was the food and having the former head chef at Great Wall in your kitchen certainly helps. Asian-Cajun offers a multitude of varyining dishes, from king crab to perch to stir fries and boils, curry, pho and many more. I was there for one dish, though – their pad thai.
I had already enjoyed the pad thai at International Cuisine, the grocery store/kitchen that the owners of Asian-Cajun had previously operated, and promptly declared it the best ever. The change in location didn’t hurt it as it continued to live up to my lofty expectations. Combined with the pad see ew that was on special, my half-Vietnamese belly was ecstatic with its Thai experience. Quality and consistency are key in any business operation and I was happy to find that there was no fall off from the small kitchen on Winona Ave. to the new restaurant on Center Lake.
We didn’t sample any of the cocktails but were informed by Christina that they had received positive feedback to the drink menu so far. New drinks will be coming out (look for the coconuts!) so stay tuned. Luckily for us, it was Thirsty Thursday (the second best weekly national holiday right behind Taco Tuesday) which at Asian-Cajun meant beers were $2 and crafts and imports were $3. We each ordered a porter from Evil Czech and immediately planned on spending many more Thursdays here in the future.
For those of you who prefer your drinks in the non-alcohol variety, try the bubble tea. I had never had it before but can’t imagine ever returning and not ordering it. It’s similar to a fruit smoothie with little bubbles of flavor sending it over the top. If you’ve ever wondered what a rainbow tasted like, try Asian-Cajun’s bubble tea.
The highest praise I can give Asian-Cajun is this – I have a very small number of restaurants that occupy a spot in our personal rotation of restaurants we visit regularly. The current occupants of that rotation are going to have to make room for the latest locally-owned restaurant to hit the scene. Though it’s the rookie among the regulars, it shouldn’t take a backseat to any of them.
If you’ve been pondering whether or not to check it out, I would implore you to do it now. Any growing pains Asian-Cajun may have experienced are a thing of the past. Great food at a great value in a great setting with great views and great service – well, it doesn’t get any greater than that.
The bar area is now 21 and over only.