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Head East 

An Asia Town stalwart calms our Asian craving.

We've been jonesing lately for Asian fare — a craving that has taken us to Japanese, Thai, and Chinese spots around the region. That includes Chagrin Falls' always-reliable Hunan by the Falls (508 East Washington Street, 440-247-0808), where the kitchen tempts upscale-American palates with sassy Asian stylings. Take a recent $17.95 seasonal special: slices of buttery rib-eye steak, sautéed to a delicate medium-rare with fresh green beans and Spanish onions, in a piquant red-bean sauce. Subtle yet robust, the beautifully blended flavors moved from smoky to spicy to sumptuous without missing a beat.

But it was a recent stop at Asia Town stalwart Siam Café (3951 St. Clair Avenue, 216-361-2323) that left our tastebuds truly tingling. Siam's menu offers an enormous variety of Thai and Vietnamese fare, mostly focused on seafood. Portions are ample, prices are low, and flavors can be hauntingly exotic. That certainly describes our lunch pick, Thai-style Paradise Shrimp, a richly satisfying toss of crisp shrimp, plush strands of red and yellow pepper, coconut milk, and yellow curry, enriched with creamy curds of egg white. The dish was so masterfully seasoned that we didn't notice the firepower until we started to sniffle. And at a mere $6.95 — including pork-fried rice and a crunchy spring roll — it made for an outstanding midday bargain. Check it out, 11 a.m. to midnight daily.

Wing nuts: When Kurt Zitzner closed Mugzee's Wings in Kent's Club Khameleon last June, it was with the understanding that he would soon reopen in the remodeled Water Street Tavern. So far, the move remains up in the air. Word is Zitzner, Water Street Tavern owner Mike Beder, and Kent State are nearing an agreement to put Mugzee's back in biz inside Water Street. More info should be available after the holidays.

Peruvian peril: Up in the air, too, are plans for Machu Picchu, downtown's only Peruvian restaurant, which shuttered November 1. Owner Eryka Accordino is looking for a new location in a West Side suburb. Meantime, she hopes to open a stand in the Colonial Arcade around the first of the year.

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