In Peabody there is a great VIETNAMESE restaurant called Sugarcane. I adore these dishes there, and almost always order them: Chicken Lettuce Cups, Singapore Curried Noodles and Spicy Rare Beef Salad.
There are three places that I go to for JAPANESE food, mainly sushi. None of them are in Salem, unfortunately. They are Maki Sushi in Peabody, Kame in Beverly, and Blue Fin in Middleton. Here are my favorites at each:
Maki Sushi makes a large assortment of rolls without rice and some without seaweed. They are all yummy. What they do best there, in my opinion, is their sashimi "boat" which is an ice boat filled with delicious sashimi. A beautiful presentation of expertly prepared fish.
Kame in Beverly is one of those rare places that seems to do everything "right" but my favorite is to have Yasai Itame which is stir-fried vegetables with toasted sesame seeds. No gloppy sauce, just a light hand with some seasonings. It is only on the lunch menu, but they will serve it to you at night. Healthy and yummy! I usually have that and an avocado roll. Simple, but perfectly prepared.
Blue Fin offers delicious sushi, but also has a great selection of "menu" items. One of my favorites is their sauteed spinach with garlic and shaved bonito. I also love their eggplant with ginger sauce, and their chicken curry.
For PIZZA I adore a place that has no name on the front. They answer the phone as "Joe's Pizza" but there are no signs other than one neon one in the window that says "PIZZA". I call it the "no-name" pizza place. It is at the north end of Rantoul Street, across from Burger King, in Beverly. It is only open at night. Most nights. They have zero to recommend themselves in terms of atmosphere or service. They only serve pizza. Just the best darned pizza ever. They only take cash. It is worth all of the negatives and more, just for their pizza. Now I have to go there.
If I want pizza but want to be served, have air conditioning or heat in the room, have a glass of wine or a drink, and a salad or something else along with the pizza I go to Bertini's here in Salem. It is on Canal Street in the area of Salem State University. Great people own and run it, and it is very old school, in a great way.
For MEXICAN food we make the trip to Jalapeno's in Gloucester, about 25 minutes from downtown Salem. I always have the same thing: Tortilla Soup, and Steak Gaonera, which is a grilled skirt steak topped with melted cheese and awesome guacamole. If I can find someone to share with me, I love their chocolate mousse.
For INDIAN food, we go to Passage to India here in Salem. We always start with Aloo Chat Papri, a wonderfully refreshing appetizer. I love the lamb or chicken dosa -- an unusual dish that I liken to a cross between a very light burrito and a French crepe.
I hope to see you here, or there.