Try it with Tabby: Ethnic cuisine for beginners

“Try it with Tabby” is a weekly article chronicling the adventures of Tabitha Bower as she searches for out-of-the-ordinary and budget-friendly activities for Boise State students.

For a relatively isolated metropolis, Boise offers a diverse offering of ethnic food, from the more common Mexican, Thai and Chinese food, to Vietnamese, Indian and Japanese.

If you are a newbie to cultural cuisine, you may be wondering how to begin your journey into these unknown, and sometimes intimidating, palatal pleasures.

This week I checked out two restaurants perfect for those with little experience in chowing down on anything outside of the traditional.

So move over hamburgers, french fries and large Cokes and make way for dollar sushi and Indian buffet.

Dollar sushi

Downtown Boise is home to a number of sushi restaurants. The sit-down atmosphere of a sushi bar is great for those experienced in all that is raw fish and seaweed.

For beginners, however, it can be hard to know what to order at a traditional sushi bar, not to mention pricey.

So I introduce you to dollar sushi.

Shige Express, a small dive with limited seating and an outdoor waiting area, serves up a variety of sushi for only a dollar
a plate.

An oval sushi bar surrounds the chef station at Shige, and a moat of running water floats small boats carrying plates of sushi by customers.

The plates offer up everything from edamame (soy beans) and seaweed salad to simple sashimi and multi-ingredient rolls. Each plate costs a dollar, you grab what you’d like, and the waitress tallies up the damage in the end.

I personally recommend the fried roll or anything topped with crab salad.

My personal favorites are anything topped or filled with jalapenos, but beware; the heat of these peppers varies significantly from visit to visit.

Indian buffet

While there are multiple Indian Buffets in Boise, I lean toward Madhuban on State Street. Seven days a week they offer up a widespread buffet dishing out nearly all of their menu items. From plain and simple naan bread, to curries, vindalus and masalas, the Indian buffet switches out its offerings daily.

I like to start with some naan dipped in the assortment of sauces placed at the beginning of the buffet for round one. Round two, for me, consists of piling my plate high with a little bit of everything. Indian rice pudding is a sweet finish to the fragrant spices.

For beginners, I would recommend starting with naan, tandoori chicken and some chicken curry. But don’t leave without trying at least one thing, which may otherwise sound terrifying to you.

While you may find yourself waiting outside in line before embarking on either of these eating adventures, the wait is well worth it (try arriving at Madhuban before noon and Shige right at opening). Both of these options give you the ability to pick and choose, experiment and get to know what you like, or what you don’t. Low cost plus low risk equals a win-win situation.

About the author  ⁄ Tabitha Bower

Tabitha Bower

Tabitha Bower is currently the Editor-in-Chief of The Arbiter. She became involved with The Arbiter after taking a News Writing class, and began by writing for both the News and Features sections as a journalist for one semester before taking a position as the Arts and Entertainment section editor. She is double majoring in English with a writing emphasis and communication with a journalism emphasis. After college she dreams of being employed in the field of journalism, traveling the world and instructing hot yoga. Tabitha is originally from a small tourist town on the coast of Maine, but has lived in multiple areas of New England, Florida, Hawaii and Okinawa, Japan. She once spent a year backpacking, scuba diving, surfing and basking in a hammock with a drink in Southeast Asia. She also has the talent of juggling school, work, looking fabulous and being super mom to her three-year-old son, Aiden.