Spare Change: Asian Food

Jazz here. It would be unfair to say that I have an unhealthy love of the asian cooking method, and possibly the entire culture. Or maybe not. But, as most college students are, I am forced to pinch pennies to eat out, usually resorting to eating a baking potato in my dingy apartment. Yet in those wondrous times when I grab some friends for a dinner night, I want to know I’m getting a decent deal; or at least weighing the value versus what is actually delivered.

So, without further ado, the breakdown:

Yama Japanese Restaurant

I love this place. I really do. I mean, it’s tucked right off high street. But is it a value?

The main barrier to getting a fair price at Yama comes from figuring out what you’re ordering. The average american can’t look at a mound of Japanese cuisine in a large bowl on the wall and have any idea what they are trying to see. Luckily, the cashier is happy to tell you, but that could take hours to describe everything. It helps to know that most of the “normal dishes” are noodle-based dishes, while the chef’s specials are much more expensive yet give only a little more food.

The flipside is sukiyaki. By far the most expensive thing on the menu, clocking in a good 15 bucks, it is a meat and noodle and rice feast of epic proportions. You will not leave hungry Wondrous as it is, the price outweighs the gain.

Drinks are an important part of a meal-time endeavor. While you could just order water like most cheap-skates, a better solution would be the hot tea. It’s much cheaper than the bottled drinks (they don’t have a fountain) at roughly 1 dollar a pot. I’ve brought in outside drinks before, and the staff is friendly enough, but I would not recommend it. Of course, if you can afford it, ramune is the Japanese equivalent to soda, and has a unique approach. Remember to ask for a napkin.

At any rate, go in and get a bowl of Miso soup for 1.50. It warms the soul.

Lavender Cafe:


Lavender has no pictures of their actual restaurant. Only food. Odd.

According to their website, they are “one of favorite restaurants in Morgantown because its so good and so reasonably priced.” I have no idea what that means, but one part is true. They are so good.

They are, on average, the cheapest place to eat sushi and drink specialty teas in Morgantown. Except that isn’t saying much. You have what else, Dragonfly? The Habachi grill? There are few places for value sushi, and that’s usually none-too-appetizing.

Of course, if you slueth, any place has bargains. For Asian Places, the Holy Grail is the lunch special. Granted, most college students will be hungriest past 9 PM, but if you are downtown you can get much food from 11-3. Most expensive special is 6.50, not much considering you get the entree, steamed rice, and either soup or an egg roll. Who doesn’t love shredded shrimp?

Always order water here if you’re on a budget. All the drinks are expensive, and many of the dishes spicy. Even though sapporo beer is so very tasty. Best bet is ordering online, right? Wrong. 12 dollar minimum order, and 1.50 delivery fee, plus they still expect you to tip, as the fee goes to the restaurant, not the driver.

Lastly, Great Wall:

On the positive side, they have a less irritating website than Lavender (not saying much). Cheap appetizers, decently priced combination platters are available  all the time.

Sadly, this place is kind of terrible. Maybe they have gotten better since I last could afford to eat there. But the service, while quick, was generally unnervingly awful. The food quality is among the worst I have ever eaten, and considering my love for food drenched in fantastic tangy sauces and exotic flavor, is incredibly disheartening.

They have the better delivery prices of asian food in the morgantown area (no minimum order), but the way the delivery people are treated makes me afraid to order there. There is almost a moral cost that outweighs the physical price. To be fair, they have a wide variety of dishes; unfortunately, they all taste bland.

Sorry, Great Wall. Cons outweigh the pros.

Finally, I hate to say there is a clear “winner” in the valient value struggle, but I have to give Yama props for their hearty noodle dishes and and affordable Miso. Seating is limited, but I always bring at leat 6 friends, so enjoy it. If you must have Sushi, go to Lavender Cafe. Avoid Great Wall like the plague.


About Jazz

Call me Jazz. Journalist. Student. Writer. Nerd. Reader.
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4 Responses to Spare Change: Asian Food

  1. ewadd986 says:

    I love Lavender Cafe. I started going there my sophomore year and I think they definitely have the best Chinese food in town. You will pay more but if you can afford it it’s definitely worth it. My favorite thing to get and I recommend you try it is the Salt & Pepper Fried Squid, it’s so good.

  2. K.Wish. says:

    I’ve been wondering what Yama was all about. However, I’m still a little confused, is it simply Japanese cuisine or does it emphasize more on sushi?

    • Jazz says:

      Yama is a wonderfully authentic place, mostly based on noodle dishes of the ramen style. Do not go there for sushi. But for a nice Shoyu ramen and authentic atmosphere, it’s a nice little hole-in-the wall.

  3. Holly says:

    I have loved Great Wall for the longest time. They have the BEST dumplings and cheese wontons. Dumplings are huge with lots of meat and pasta and the dipping sauce is “to die”. The cheese wontons are the only ones around that are actually savory and not the nasty sweet ones you get most places. Just my 2 cents. 🙂

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