Although Troy has its fair share of Asian take-out places, the number of full-service, sit-down restaurants in the city has remained stubbornly at two. They are now joined by Red & Blue on 15th Street, less than a block south of Route 7 (Hoosick Street), embedded in the RPI student neighborhood.
The prices are reasonable and our food was very good. My friend Pam said the restaurant is popular with students, which explained why the place was kind of slow during our summertime visit, but students appreciate a bargain and can be just as discerning about good food as anyone.
The restaurant is in a one-story repurposed brick building that used to be a doctor’s office. It’s broken into small spaces, with a few tables or booths, or cooking tables, in each area, and it’s saved from being claustrophobic by wide doorways.
One large room is dominated by a bar, which, at lunchtime, was dark. There is wood laminate floor throughout, a decorating scheme involving posters and cheerful paint, and a small patio in the front. The staff was casually but neatly dressed in black. Nothing fancy.
Red & Blue Asian Grill and Bar
WHERE: 2312 15th St., Troy. 272-8188, www.redandbluetroy.com
WHEN: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $30.38, with tax and tip
MORE INFO: Reservations available. Wheelchair accessible. Credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, Discover. Off-street parking. Children’s menu.
Range of choices
Red & Blue offers a variety of Asian cuisine including popular choices like General Tso’s chicken, sesame chicken, beef and broccoli, and fried rice, also teriyaki, hot pots and a wide range of sushi and sashimi.
The Cold Dishes section features some unusual choices, such as beef tendons with hot sauce, beef tripe, chicken claws (which I expect are the feet — my mother says they make good soup) and jellyfish. The restaurant is waiting for its liquor license.
Have you had bubble tea? More accurately known as boba tea, the other name seems obvious, given the fat beads of jelly-like tapioca that float around the glass and settle to the bottom. Pam ordered taro flavor ($2.50), which is pale purple, like the root, she explained. I tried it — it tastes like milky, sweet cold tea, which is good, but not what I’m used to. It comes with an oversized red straw that allows the bubbles through.
A meal at Red & Blue won’t break the bank, and lunch is the best bargain of all. I found 15 choices on the lunch menu for $6, and another five for $6.50 that all included rice and soup or salad. You can also get reasonably priced rolls and sushi and sashimi.
I ordered chicken teriyaki in a box ($11), which included the chicken, white rice, a California roll and dumplings. I loved the compartments, which reminded me of a TV dinner but way better, and the red-and-black lacquer bento box.
Presented in style
The dark meat chicken came in a brown sauce, not too sweet, garnished with toasted sesame seeds. Next to it was another large compartment with white rice, more delicate than starchy or sticky. In the upper right corner were the neat slices of California roll and up in the left corner were two light shrimp dumplings dressed with a bit of rice wine vinegar.
Part of the compartment for the roll was given over to pickled ginger and a pyramid of wasabi. Bright green broccoli tucked neatly next to the chicken brightened everything up.
The whole assembly was delightful to behold, the sum greater than the parts.
I immediately dumped the rice into the chicken compartment to soak up the sauce, added a bit of soy sauce and tossed all with my chopsticks. Pam and I shared the shrimp dumplings, agreeing that they were ethereally light and delicious.
Pam ordered two rolls ($8), a Boston roll and an eel/avocado roll. They were larger than the California roll in the bento box, with rice on the outside, rolled in sesame seeds, and handsomely presented. The Boston roll was made with shrimp, delicate lettuce, and mayonnaise. Pam said the sauce that accompanied the unagi (eel) was light and savory, exactly right.
By the time I finished the chicken and the dumplings I had no room left for the California roll. It was neatly packed for me to take home to husband Eric, who enjoyed it later.
Our server was extremely patient, waiting without complaint as we took forever to order, and answered our questions politely. The food was delivered quickly, indicating that they can accommodate short lunch breaks.
A meal at Red and Blue is worth trip. The tab for our bill, with one soda and a bubble drink, tax and tip, came to $30.38.