By Doug Deal
Macon Community News
Taking an evening stroll through an alley is something that sounds more like you are looking for trouble than a delicious meal. But, if you have spent enough time downtown, you know there are some excellent places to eat down Mulberry Street Lane. One such restaurant is Tokyo Alley, which specializes in a fusion of Japenese and Thai cuisine.
The restaurant is better known for lunch, which they serve from 11 AM to 3 PM Monday through Friday, but they also serve dinner on Friday and Saturday nights from 5 to 9 PM. I had only tried lunch in the past and had not been in a couple of years, so I decided to treat the family to dinner.
After a 100-foot trek down the alleyway, you’ll come across what looks like a two-story brick house, with a small seating area and colorful potted plants out front and a welcoming cantilevered sign that you can’t miss. Simply put, Tokyo Alley presents a charming exterior that invites you in. Stepping across the threshold, you find a quaint Asian themed decor and a cozy dining room with a handful of tables and a decorative metallic wine cage near the kitchen entrance.
Our host and server were amiable and prompt, and we started with an appetizer mix of a spring roll and a cheese roll. These come one to an order but were reasonably priced at $2 and $2.50, respectively. They were slightly larger than your average spring roll, with a light and crisp exterior. The spring roll was cabbage and noodles, while the cheese roll was crab meat and cream cheese. Both appetizers were served with a delicious sweet chili sauce. Both were good, but the cheese roll was a step ahead and worth the extra half dollar.
For my meal, I ordered the Bangkok Chicken with a side of rice and cold noodle salad. At first glance, the chicken looks a little like chicken strips, but the resemblance is only superficial. When mixed with the sweet and spicy sauce, the light breading had a refreshing every so slight crunchy texture that did not distract from the delicateness of the perfectly cooked chicken. I would not classify this as a hot dish, but few Thai dishes are truly mild either.
The jasmine rice was serviceable and what you expect from an Asian-themed restaurant, but the real highlight from the sides was the cold noodle salad. The noodles are reminiscent of spaghetti in that they are thin and long, but the comparison ends there.
These noodles are then mixed with a sweet, almost syrupy sauce that also appears to have a mayonnaise-like ingredient, perhaps beaten eggs (which is what mayonnaise is made from). This is then served cold, with a tomato slice garnish. It reminds me of hiyashi chuka, which is a chilled ramen dish. Reading the description here does not do it justice, but it is a truly unique (for Macon) signature dish that regulars swear by. As far as side items go, this is a delicious choice.
My wife ordered the orange chicken from their Japanese selections. This dish had more or less bite-sized morsels of boneless chicken in a tangy sweet citrus sauce. Like my Bangkok chicken, the breading was light and just added enough crunchy texture to make it enjoyable but not too much to overwhelm the tender chicken breast.
She also was served rice and ordered the mixed vegetables as her side. The vegetables were perfectly stir-fried, with an al-dente bite and a light seasoning that was neither over-powering nor bland. If cold noodle salad is not up your (Tokyo) alley, then this is an excellent second choice. The flavor of the vegetables blended nicely with the chicken, but my wife also enjoyed them on their own.
Our overall experience was pleasant and relaxing, and we left satisfied with the quality, portions, and price of what we ordered. The service was friendly and welcoming without being distracting. Drinks were refilled regularly, but our conversation was also not interrupted abruptly or unnecessarily.
If you are looking for an intimate dinner in a quiet setting, Tokyo Alley is a wonderful choice. The restaurant is small, and although each table has ample room for guest privacy, it’s not a location that I would recommend for a raucous, large-group gathering. For small groups and quiet date nights, it’s ideal.
Tokyo Alley is located at 574 Mulberry Street Lane, which is the alleyway that connects Second and Third Streets.