Fresh shrimp basil rolls, where carrot, cucumber and lettuce join the star ingredients in a pastel patchwork seen through supple, translucent wrappers, are served at Baan Thai in Apex.

Baan Thai

Baan Thai opened in Apex in 2015, the first restaurant for Kelly Chamnansuan. You’ll appreciate the fact that experience has taught her how to cater to a Western palate. By Greg Cox Originally published 4/6/2017 APEX Entering Baan Thai, you’re greeted by a smiling waiter and a compact, tidy dining room decorated in a style…

The “boiled series fish” is a sort of hot pot that’s considerably more palatable than its English name suggests at Szechuan Taste in Cary.

Szechuan Taste

The restaurant, open since last August in Cary’s Wellington Park shopping center, is an inviting spot with a contemporary Asian decor. You will encounter a veritable glossary of enigmatic names for dishes. By Greg Cox Review originally published 3/12/2017 If you’re a frequent patron of authentic Chinese restaurants, you’ve no doubt come across dishes whose…

M Kokko serves a first-rate bowl of ramen with soy-braised pork belly, wood ear mushrooms and soft-boiled egg in a paitan broth, a chicken-bone variation on the classic tonkotsu broth that gets its rich flavor and milky color from long-simmered pork bones.

M Kokko

By Greg Cox Originally published March 2, 2017. The details: 311-B Holland St., Durham, 919-908-9332, facebook.com/mkokkodurham Strictly speaking in terms of location, gems don’t get much more hidden than M Kokko. Open since last fall in downtown Durham, the restaurant’s entrance is on a side alley around the corner from its sibling establishment, M Sushi…

The Samosas are hand-rolled pastry stuffed with potato and peas at Biryani Maxx in Cary.

Biryani Maxx

Biryani Maxx By Greg Cox Originally published March 2, 2017. The details: 590-102 E. Chatham St., Cary, 919-377-0346, biryanimaxx.com Nestled among a cluster of unassuming strip malls near the intersection of East Chatham Street and Maynard Road, Biryani Maxx is one of nearly three dozen restaurants whose globe-spanning diversity are earning the area the nickname…

Bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with goat cheese.

Parkside

Parkside in downtown Raleigh takes over the formers Joe’s Place restaurant site and serves dishes inspired by pub and diner classics – occasionally giving them a contemporary spin. By Greg Cox Review originally published 2/16/2017 RALEIGH The neon RESTAURANT sign on the building at the corner of Dawson and Martin streets has been a downtown…

The Posole at Virgil’s Original Taqueria in Raleigh is a specialty made up of chicken, hominy, red chili, tortilla crisp, cabbage and avocado.

Virgil’s Original Taqueria

A creative approach at Virgil’s Original Taqueria By Greg Cox Review originally published 12/29/2016 Just inside the door, a – well, let’s call it a tapestry – of square artificial turf tiles spans the wall on the right. On the opposite wall, outlined in white on chalkboard-black, is the restaurant’s logo: a running chicken framed…