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Flavors of Asia abound in the city

Asia is home to dozens of different cuisines. Many share common threads and are differentiated only by subtle nuances.

For many of us, it is hard to know exactly what certain cultures' food tastes like; that's where great restaurants can help.

Try the following Asian establishments and you'll be well on your way to knowing the differences in each fare.

For authentic Chinese food, try Dragonfly Restaurant (5110 1-G Park Road). Somewhat hidden by its shopping center location, Dragonfly serves some of the best-tasting, best-looking Chinese food in town.

My favorite is the Dragonfly Special, which is scallops, chicken and jumbo shrimp with mixed vegetables in sa cha sauce.

The presentation is nearly as impressive as the flavor; it is served in aluminum foil shaped like a swan that is opened in front of you.

Vietnamese food is slightly harder to find than Chinese, but more Charlotteans have become familiar with it in recent years thanks to the increasingly popular Lang Van Restaurant (3019 Shamrock Drive, langvanrestaurant.com).

Located in east Charlotte, one of Lang Van's specialties is pho, a Vietnamese rice-noodle soup dish.

Variations of pho here range from tame to adventurous.

For even more incredible Asian specialties, try Thai cuisine at Monsoon (2801 South Blvd., thaimonsoon.com).

Tod Kai, a dish of chicken and stir-fried vegetables in a light white sauce, is a lunch dish guaranteed to please.

Larken Egleston has a Culinary Arts degree from Johnson & Wales. E-mail feedback@eyecharlotte.com.

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