I found myself today in a delightful conversation with Kenji, who works at Soy Bistro, a Korean restaurant, and is of Japanese descent about his favorite Indian restaurant. That in a nutshell is how to find the best restaurants. Trade information, especially with other adventurous eaters.

King Daddy and I found Soy Bistro after advice from a Korean friend about the places he likes to eat. One picture is worth a thousand words. Here you go:

Bibimbap is the national dish of Korea. The idea is you take in the wonder of the differing ingredients, contrasting colors and textures, and then mix everything together and chow down.

Or this:

Korean tacos with spicy slaw and soy rice with wasabi cream.

This is not the first restaurant we’ve found through recommendations from people who know the food of their native countries.

Let’s just take what we call “the real Indian place” also known as Cafe India. We found this gem through an Indian colleague. We have been there a lot lately for the best Chili Chicken and Chicken Tikka Masala we’ve ever had. It’s a great sign that the vast majority of the restaurants clients are from India.

Cafe India is in a strip shopping center in Cool Springs. Is America great or what?

And how authentic is a Middle Eastern restaurant that closes from noon-1 p.m. on Fridays so the staff can attend prayers at their mosque? That’s Al Sanabil Bakery & Market on East Thompson Lane. There are three tables, one of which is frequently occupied by my friend, Elizabeth Power, who is not a Muslim but knows a good plate of chicken shawarma when she sees one.

Just look at this:

Lamb Kabobs with fragrant spiced rice and a fresh salad. Yes, it’s served on aluminum foil on a plastic cafeteria tray. You got a problem with that? I don’t. Oh, and did I mention the pita bread on the tray just came out of the bakery’s ovens?

So talk to your friends who know their cuisines and that’s not just folks who came from other countries. Which is the best meat ‘n three in Nashville? Opinions are strongly held. Where can you find the best po’ boy? Options abound. But I can tell you one thing with certainty. Great food is rarely found in chain restaurants. Eat local even if local is by way of New Delhi or Istanbul.

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