Chow Down In Milwaukee

Restaurant Reviews

Bee’s Cuisine Specializes in Preparing Authentic Southeast Asian Dishes

Drive by and you’ll miss it. This Southeast Asian restaurant is squeezed into the midst of superb restaurants and establishments on Milwaukee’s East Side. My boyfriend and I have come here several times, and have realized that Bee’s Cuisine is a restaurant you must try.

We live just two blocks away from Bee’s cuisine, so it’s a quick walk for us to either dine in or carry out. As he and I headed to the restaurant, we decided we would dine in that night. As we walked in, we saw that two of the four tables were being used. Yes, they only have four tables – it is a very small restaurant. So it’s definitely nice that they have that carry out option.

The restaurants in Asia are faily simple, with most detailing being a pattern or geometric shapes. You’ll also see a lot of Chinese writing used in an artistic way. And finally, I’ve noticed that most Asian restaurants pack as many tables and chairs in as possible. I don’t know if this is because of the population there, but I know that at Bee’s Cuisine, it’s because the restaurant is so small. The restaurant’s Southeast Asian theme is well portrayed not only through the cuisine, but through its decor and atmosphere.

The cozy restaurant packs in authentic Asian detail anywhere possible. I really liked the wall of painted black boards which ended up making a sporadic crisscross design. The opposite wall is lined with a bench that is used for seating at two of the four tables. A nice addition to the bench were the floral patterned accent pillows. The ceiling high windows in the front of the restaurant are separated by a hand made quilt depicting Asian culture through various little pictures of people, buildings, wildlife, travel, nature and more.

Did you know that Asia consists of three dietary cultures separated by regions, all of which have their own unique cuisine? The three regions are the northeast, the southwest, and the southeast. The Southeast region includes Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Viet Nam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei. This region specializes in the use of fragrant spices and herbs, rice, curries, and the dishes are made with light preparation.

After our server greeted us with water, we decided to order a few appetizers to get us started. We ordered six eggrolls for $5, a papaya salad for $6, and four crab Rangoons at 75 cents apiece. While the crab Rangoon first appeared in America, egg rolls originated in China (part of the northeastern dietary culture of Asia) and the papaya salad from Laos.

For both the spring rolls and the egg rolls, you have the choice of chicken, pork or vegetarian. We ordered two of each. The cabbage and protein were encased by a thick wrapped skin that was deep-fried to a darker golden brown. The smooth, tender ingredients on the inside complimented the very crunchy wrapper. These egg rolls are quite large; they’re probably longer than your middle finger and three times as thick as your thumb. Six of these could easily be a meal in itself for one person.

For authenticity purposes, since both spring and egg rolls are from the northeastern region, I’m not sure why Bee’s Cuisine choses to offer these. But to be honest, I’m really glad they do; they are so satisfying.  

The papaya salad sounded appealing on the menu. It consists of shredded papaya, Thai eggplant, tomatoes, peanuts, and chilies. When we received the papaya salad, it was not at all what I imagined. Not only was it not light and colorful, the peanuts could not be found, and the salad was on top of a dark liquid, that I soon found out was fish sauce. It makes sense, though, that Bee’s Cuisine would use fish sauce in their dishes because Southeast Asian cuisine substitutes fish sauce for soy sauce which is typically used in the northeastern region.

Green papaya salad is a very common and traditional cuisine originating in Laos. As it is served in Asia, the dish is described as crunchy, sour, sweet, spicy, and salty. Instead, the shredded papaya and tomatoes were covered in fish sauce, which ended up overpowering every flavor I should have tasted. The fish sauce was also overwhelmingly pungent and its robust essence took over the entire dish. I would suggest choosing a different appetizer unless you know for sure you like fish sauce.

Bringing in the roots of Indonesia, curry is a staple spice used in the south regions of Asia and is incorporated into making various soups, stews and other dishes. Bee’s Cuisine offers various types of curry dishes, each containing different ingredients and different colored curries, such as green, red or yellow. Bee’s Cuisine also has a spice meter of between one and five, five being the hottest. The number is based on how much fresh, hot chilis the chef adds to your dish.

I ordered the Yellow Curry($10.75), which contains potatoes, onions and celery. With the choice of beef, pork, chicken or tofu, I decided to go with chicken and upped the spice meter to a level four. Between the meat and potatoes and the nice fresh root vegetables, this dish is very hearty. I have always enjoyed the concoction of sweet and spicy in the flavor of curry and even with my spice level quite high, I could still get a sense of the curry’s smoky sweetness. Our dishes were served steaming hot, which allowed the aromas to perfuming our presence.

The difference between curries in the south regions of Asian is that in the southeast region, they substitute coconut milk for yogurt which is more often used in the southwestern region. Bee’s Cuisine’s curries are definitely portraying authenticity  by using coconut milk and incorporating other south Asian ingredients such as bamboo shoots, eggplant and basil. They do so also by serving each curry dish with a side of steamed rice. Eventually, I want to try every one of their curries.

Collectively, before tonight, we have tried the Udon noodles, Curry noodles, Drunken noodles, and the shrimp stir-fry and the Pad Ka Pao – all of which were amazing. We find ourselves going back again and again. This restaurant has a variety of dishes to introduce yourself to Southeast Asian cuisine. From noodle dishes, to rice dishes, from curry to stir-fry, Bee’s Cuisine serves their dishes fresh, hot and from the heart.

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