by Nicki Wood
Maybe it's Soy's awkward (even by Brentwood standards) shared building where the neighboring dry cleaner has a bigger sign. Could be the subpar traffic engineering of the entrance.
Whatever the factor, it was unknown to me, though I work just blocks away, until Bites commenter Tabitha Ong Tune clued me in.
What you hear when you enter Soy Bistro is the sizzle of a grill and the clang of stir-fry utensils. What you see is a variety of attractive seating thoughtfully selected for big groups, single diners and couples. The air is humid and fragrant with the scent of fresh meat and vegetables searing and dancing on hot metal. The Lees, proprietors, have fashioned a menu of freshly cooked Asian favorites, fusion creations and some other non-Asian or slightly accented staples. Tabitha ordered the Hawaiian bowl, a serving of fried rice with grilled pineapple and spam, fried egg and onions. I got the lettuce wraps and Korean beef tacos.
Tabitha called the rice bowl a nostalgic dish for her, as near to her Singaporean grandmother's home-cooking as she can get this far from home. The lettuce wraps were all you hope for — plentiful meat, crisp vegetables, flavorful glaze. Korean tacos are as good as any in town, savory with a hint of sweet, served with a crunchy, spicy slaw.
Grilled teriyaki meats, shrimp, salmon and tofu scratch the itch for bigger appetites, while salads provide a non-Asian choice, with homemade dressings and the option to add meat, shrimp or fish. Edamame, miso soup and dumplings round out a pretty big set of offerings for such a brief menu.
Everything on the menu is priced below $10, and portions are just right. Rice bowls and lettuce wraps are generous enough for two meals. Korean tacos are light but filling at $2.50 each; get all three varieties and you'll spend a modest $8.
Soy stands out among the Maryland Farms lunch places in that it's open in the evenings and on Saturdays when the office buildings are empty, and there's peace on the boulevards of Brentwood to enjoy a beer with your teriyaki.
5008 Maryland Way, 371-1933
Hours: Monday through Friday: 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. for lunch, then 5-8 p.m. for dinner; Saturdays: noon-8 p.m.