The Rainbow Boulevard exit off of Interstate 215 is a mecca of big-box stores with such established restaurant chains as Chipotle and Panda Express from which to choose. But if you’re looking for a tastier, more personal experience, journey just a few blocks south on Rainbow to a strip mall harboring a plethora of restaurants, where, in fact, the eateries outnumber other establishments. This is undiscovered culinary country, just waiting for adventurous foodies to explore.
Oyshi. For those with a big appetite, looking to get some real bang for their buck, Oyshi is one of the best all-you-can-eat sushi joints in town. The place is always packed, so if tables are not available, grab a seat at the sushi counter. The chefs will suggest what to order based on freshness and your preferences. Most of the menu is available for AYCE: Vegas Roll (no rice, tuna, salmon, shrimp, white fish, avocado and cream cheese with eel sauce) and the Crunch Scallop (yum-yum shrimp, crab mix and avocado with popcorn scallop on top) are stand-out selections. 7775 S. Rainbow Blvd., Suite 145, 646-9744.
Jenni Pho. If you’re in the mood for some pho but don’t feel like making the trek to Chinatown, Jenni Pho is a great alternative. The egg rolls are flavorful and crunchy, and the potstickers are great for sharing. The pho tai (rare steak) or do bien (seafood) pho are warm and satisfying and the broth is delicious on its own. The large portions of pho are served with a wide assortment of fresh condiments to customize your dish. The only downside is that the restaurant only accepts cash but most menu items are inexpensive. 7855 S. Rainbow Blvd., 269-0348.
Fausto’s Mexican Grill. At first glance, Fausto’s Mexican Grill seems like another Roberto’s Taco Shop but it’s the little things that elevate it above that larger chain: the lettuce is crisp, the beans and rice freshly made, the guacamole isn’t overpowered by onions and even the deep-fried items taste lighter. Lightly battered fish tacos and the carne asada burrito are can’t-miss items, and if you like green chili sauce theirs is some of the best in town. 7835 S. Rainbow Blvd., Suite 20, 407-9445.
Pin Kaow. Pad thai is a dish that can be either hit or miss. At Pin Kaow, it’s definitely a hit with spicy noodles, crunchy bean sprouts and a light peanut sauce. If you prefer curry, the panang is a favorite as is the tom-ka-koong, a delicious lemongrass soup with coconut milk, mushrooms and shrimp. The chili fried rice is another Thai staple for which Pin Kaow is known. 7835 S. Rainbow Blvd., 614-4805.
Emjay’s New York Pizza. True to its name, Emjay’s New York Pizza has brought a bit of that Big Apple taste to the Valley, offering a gigantic, foldable slice and a soda for just $4.25. The pizzas are not super doughy, and even though they can be a little greasy, they’re delicious. The specialty pizzas stand out from the larger chains: Try the pesto shrimp with sundried tomato, mushrooms, onions and garlic with a pesto sauce, and the El Taoseno with pepperoni, Italian sausage, onion, green chilis, roasted red pepper, garlic and extra cheese. 7835 S. Rainbow Blvd. Suite 9, 233-0911.
Lazy Joe’s Fish & Chips. Fans of the fish fry will be thrilled with Lazy Joe’s Fish & Chips. The clams are flown in fresh and, when fried, are a new twist on normal fry fare. If you’re in the mood for something a little more traditional, the haddock fillets are a meatier fish and the best they have to offer. The breading is gluten-free, the filets fried in soybean oil. The coleslaw isn’t oversaturated with sauce, and the fries are made in-house with the skin on, giving them a memorable crunch. 7835 S. Rainbow Blvd., Suite 22, 489-6523.