Tokyo Alley consistently good for 20 years

Telegraph correspondentOctober 19, 2012 

Tucked in a downtown lane you could easily miss, Tokyo Alley is worth the trip.

While other downtown restaurants have come and gone, Tokyo Alley has been a mainstay for 20 years. This is probably because the food continues to be consistently good.

The restaurant is cozy but perfect for everything from a business lunch to a romantic dinner or meal with the extended family.

Lunch offers choices of fried rice, curry, teriyaki beef, pad thai and chicken and shrimp dishes in a variety of sauces.

Almost all of the lunch dishes come with rice and noodle salad. Tokyo Alley is probably best known for its cold noodle salad. A meal there almost always prompts a discussion of how it’s made with the only consensus being it includes noodles and celery.

Like many Asian-style restaurants, the dinner menu is very similar to the lunch menu but at a higher price. You can still get chicken and shrimp dishes in a variety of sauces, as well as pad thai, red curry and green curry.

The dinner menu adds salmon, some different shrimp dishes and a masaman curry. The masaman is excellent with a creamy peanut flavor and potatoes served on top. This dish alone is worth the dinner price.

Another difference with the dinner menu is most of the meals come with egg drop soup in addition to the noodle salad and rice. The soup wasn’t served very hot and was surprisingly perfect for hungry toddlers.

Overall, you can never go wrong with any of the chicken dishes. Tokyo Alley offers grilled and fried versions. The lemon chicken, which is basically a fried tender in a tangy lemon sauce, has always been a favorite.

The curry dishes also are always good. The sauces, even the ones listed as hot, tend to fall on the savory side.

Though the entrees supply more than enough to satisfy, you would be remiss not to try one of the appetizers. The cheese roll and spring roll were particularly delicious and were fried to perfection.

The only real shortcoming with Tokyo Alley is the rice. Most of our party felt like it might be instant -- certainly not the aromatic basmati or jasmine you might expect with a savory Asian dish.

But the rest of the food more than makes up for the sides. In fact, the serving size on the main dish is typically large enough that you may not even want the rice.

There is no kids menu, but there are options for kids, even picky ones. The kitchen is happy to accommodate requests to serve sauces on the side and most entrees are typically large enough to share with a child.

We have one picky eater and he gobbled up the shrimp sans sauce. The cold noodle salad also was a hit with the kids.

Recent improvements on Mulberry Street Lane have polished up the alley outside the restaurant, but even without those changes, Tokyo Alley is a bright spot for downtown dining.

Tokyo Alley

Address: 574 Mulberry Street Lane, Macon

Phone: 743-9449

Hours: Lunch is 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Mondays-Fridays; dinner is 5-9 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays

Payment: Cash, credit, debit

Smoking: No

Alcohol: No

Kids Menu: No

Noise Level: Low

Health Rating: 100

Price range: Lunches range from $8-$10; dinners range from $13-$17

Rating: Three and a half stars

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