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A pork chop rice plate and wonton noodle bowl are pictured at Quickly Asian Fusion Café. They’re open Tuesday through Sunday on Cottage Hill Road in Mobile.
Quickly Asian Fusion Café • 5033 Cottage Hill Road • Mobile, AL 36609 • 251-375-1825
You had me at ‘fast Asian fusion.’” That’s more or less what I told Eveleen, Katie’s brother Craig’s wife — I guess you’d call her my sister-in-law — when she enlightened me about where she was stopping on her way out of town: Quickly Asian Fusion Café. Here she was, a little girl from Singapore, all grown up and visiting Mobile, telling her food writer kinfolk what he was missing.
In her words it’s pretty much Asian fast food, a description that may not do it justice, but one I will accept as a positive mark on the otherwise clean scorecard I was about to ink. I don’t eat a lot of fast food, American or otherwise, but sure as sin don’t look down my nose at it. (My last review was chicken biscuits, for crying out loud.)
So, as I walk through this menu, don’t get comfortable with the idea that I’ve turned a shoulder to Mobile’s ever-growing list of fine dining/casual atmosphere eateries. Besides, I’m not even sure “fast food” applies in Quickly’s case.
The chain is known for its smoothies, bubble teas, snacks and Vietnamese cuisine, but a look online at the menu I pulled up didn’t exactly match the one in the restaurant. The owner told me it seems to be a combination of the Biloxi and Mobile locations. Either way, he was very accommodating as I ordered over the phone.
Of course I needed to experience what Eveleen found so attractive about Quickly. She first mentioned the Popcorn Chicken ($4.75). Nibbles of chicken, battered and fried, were served with two skewers to aid with dipping into the sweet chili sauce. My kids are going to flip over these.
It was also suggested I order Takoyaki ($5.45). The man on the other end of the phone said, “Oh, you mean octopus balls.” Now, listen. I’m as adventurous an eater as most people I know, but I was beginning to think Eveleen was putting me on. This definitely didn’t sound like my cup of tea, though I wasn’t about to be outdone by my relative-through-marriage. Imagine my sigh of relief when I found the octopus balls were fried balls of dough with bits of meat inside. With my mind at ease (and out of the unintentional gutter), I never questioned what part of the octopus I was eating, and found them delightful.
Banh Mi ($4.75) is something of which I never tire. These Vietnamese sandwiches are all about the bread, not much larger than a hot dog bun, filled with meat and slightly pickled vegetables. Mine had grilled pork with carrots, bell pepper and cucumber accented by fresh cilantro. Find me a $5 sandwich better than this and I’ll buy us each one.
Nursing a cold, Katie requested Ramen ($8.49). In the to-go version we had the broth in one container and the cooked noodles with fresh fixings in the other. Pork belly thinly sliced, calamari and fish balls (really, again?) made the soup, while mushrooms, bean sprouts, boiled egg, jalapeños and lime wedges were added at will. A little salty, it wasn’t the greatest ramen ever, but a really good quick fix to cure what ails you.
Get me close to anything pho or banh mi related and I will get Vietnamese Spring Rolls ($3.50). This pair was the usual pork and tiny shrimp halves with the peanut sauce. I’d call it a less fancy version, but I still loved it. If you like it hot, add Sriracha to the sauce. Despite Katie’s cold we carelessly double dipped. I’d get them again.
Of all we had, the biggest entrée was Com Ca Ri Ga, otherwise known as Curry Chicken Rice Plate ($7.99). It wasn’t a very spicy curry dish, but good nonetheless. A side of pickled carrots, cabbage and cucumbers were appropriate. The rice was perfect, not too gummy or too dry, and the chicken wasn’t overdone as is often the case. It really had that dirty curry flavor, if you know what I mean, and the onions cooked with the chicken certainly didn’t hurt.
So, Quickly is referred to as Asian fast food? Maybe in name and price, but I didn’t get the feeling I had anything but fresh ingredients. Perhaps the shrimp in the spring rolls were too tiny, but most everything here seemed scratch made. There are a dozen snacks and 36 Vietnamese cuisine menu items, seven of which are sandwiches, and I haven’t even scratched the surface of bubble teas, smoothies and slushes.
The best news is that all of this food was ready in less than 20 minutes, and I walked out with this armload for $38.42! I don’t know if this is the best ramen or pho you’ll ever have, but you shouldn’t complain. Fast, cheap and good makes this a great place for those quick weeknights when you don’t want to cook or Sunday lunches where you have to feed the army of children. Go ahead and feed the neighbor kids while you’re at it. It’s that cheap.
I thought the banh mi was a fine sandwich and will surely remain on my list when that itch needs scratching. Katie said the strongest dish was the octopus balls. Popcorn chicken is a fun appetizer/snack anyone can enjoy. It was all good at worst and great at best.
Eveleen, come visit soon and we shall go back for your favorite takoyaki. I’ll grab a sandwich. I can see why you are a fan — thanks for turning us on to it.
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