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Bazaar for beginners: Where to start at West Side Bazaar

There are hundreds of restaurants in Western New York, but nothing comes close to the dizzyingly broad menu of the West Side Bazaar. The humble room at 25 Grant St. is the only place that Buffalo diners hungry for adventure can find such globe-spanning feasts. Its international food court offers tastes from different hemispheres only steps apart. The bazaar, celebrating its fifth anniversary this month, draws more visitors than ever. Since there are about 200 dishes to choose from, this has left many first-time visitors stumped. Here's where I tell people to start exploring the flavors refugee cooks are adding to the city's melting pot.  (Photos by Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News) 

M Asian Halal Foods

Tandoori chicken is tenderized in a spiced yogurt marinade before being roasted. Served with salad and rice pilaf, it's a low-key introduction to the Pakistani and Indian cuisine that make up most of the booth's offerings. ($7.99)

Spicy fish is tilapia fillets that have been marinated in spices and then fried to a golden brown, for a crusty result without battering the fish. It's served with salad and basmati rice or pita bread, which allows the diner to make into mini-sandwiches. ($8.99)


Thang's Family Japanese Ramen

Big bowls of noodles in flavorful broth make ramen a favorite in Japan and elsewhere. Spicy broths and kimchi versions are among the more rousing versions, but this wakame ramen features seaweed in addition to pork, bamboo shoots and hard boiled egg. ($8.99)

Stir-fried dishes with Japanese influences add another angle. Yasai itame packs a plethora of vegetables into this mild-mannered dish, including snow peas, cabbage and carrots, then adds protein from land and sea with sliced chicken breast and shrimp. ($7.99)


007 Chinese Food Dim Sum

Dim sum are dishes of dumplings or tidbits, served with jasmine tea. Clockwise from left: bone-in pork rib pieces are steamed with fermented black beans; shui mai are pork-shrimp meatballs steamed in a wrapper; har gow are translucent dumplings stuffed with shrimp. ($3.50 each)

Sotftball-sized rounds of puffy white dough with flavorful fillings are the Asian equivalent to a fast-food hamburger on a white bun. The char sui pau hides a patty of seasoned ground pork, crunchy jicama and a hard-boiled egg. ($3.99)


Nine & Night Thai Cuisine

Burmese cooks who lived in Thailand offer authentic flavors. Shrimp, squid, and vegetables like red bell pepper and green beans are sautéed in vibrantly spicy chile sauce in seafood pad ka pow. It's served with a pile of rice and an oozy-yolked egg. ($6.99)

Thai curries are coconut-milk gravies powered by distinct spice mixture. The green curry is flavored with fresh green chiles, lime leaves and lemongrass, bearing a payload of vegetables and your choice of protein – in this case, chicken. ($6.99)


Abyssinia Ethiopian Cuisine

Combinations of Ethiopian dishes are served on the pancake-like bread called injera. A meat version offers chicken and beef dishes, but this is the vegetarian combo, a vegan array of carrots and potatoes, collard greens, red and yellow lentils, green beans and beets. ($10.99)

Kitfo is an Ethiopian dish of minced raw or rare beef drenched in niter kibbeh, clarified butter simmered with spices. It's usually served with fresh cheese. Here, the components are combined on a sandwich bun for a kitfo sandwich, a sort of Ethiopian cheesesteak. ($6.99)


Wa Wa Asian Snacks

Colorful, flavorful, light and vegan, ordering the "Asian Style Salad" brings a bevy of freshness. Avocado, cucumber, pickled daikon radish, fresh herbs, carrots, tomatoes, and tofu puffs are ready for a ginger dressing. (Grilled pork or beef available too.)($6.95)

Order som tum, Thai papaya salad, and you'll soon hear the thud of a mortar and pestle crushing garlic for the dressing, mixed new for each dish. Shredded green papaya, peanuts, carrots and shrimp round out this intense, tangy salad, served with rice noodles. ($6.95)


Rakhapura Shop

Cuisine from Arakan, a region in Burma, includes garlic noodle, a three-part dish that eaters customize to their liking. The pasta with garlic oil, garlic chips and chunks of chicken is tasty by itself. Add peppery chicken broth and cucumber onion pickle to taste. ($5.99)

Burmese salads emphasize juicy crunch. The pennywort salad is even livelier for its main green, a slightly bitter green that serves well as a palate cleanser. It's surrounded with tomatoes, peanuts, shredded cabbage, dried onions and lime juice.

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