Jesse Wong's Asean Bistro (8775 Centre Park Drive, Columbia,  772-5300) brings together a cadre of Far East chefs, a visually stunning dining room, and a real live piano player for a delightful, delectable meal. The extensive menu is a mix of old standards and new soon-to-be standards, with an emphasis on vegetarian fare unlike what you'll find on most Chinese menus, such as Chef Liu's Vegetables in Soothing Lettuce Wrap. The suave servers will gladly guide you to a felicitous choice. Better yet, order a variety of dishes, demonstrate your boardinghouse reach, and share.
If time and misfortune have pared you down to your last few bahts, make the most of them at Noodles Corner (8865 Stanford Blvd. #103, Columbia,  312-0088), a monument to Asian comfort food. Let's face itnoodles are nice, in a bowl of broth or stir-fried with chicken, shrimp, mushrooms, bean sprouts, and the like. You could make a meal of the appetizers, like fried squid, potstickers, and shrimp balls coated with almonds, but we suggest you leave room for the long 'n' slurpy stuff. So many noodles, so little time.
Here's an interesting concept: Supply folks with a big bowl and lots of raw vegetables, meats, and seafood. Add a variety of sauces (more than 30) and spices. Let the customer mix, match, and season to his or her heart's content, then turn the bowl over to a guy at the grill. He chops and stir-fries and serves you. You can't complainafter all, you created this culinary masterpiece. Not to your liking? OK, try again. It's all you can eat, with a daily soup-and-salad bar thrown in at the Mongolian Grill (8865 Stanford Blvd. #107, Columbia,  290-0690). We understand from a friend who spent a few years in Mongolia that the natives don't eat anything remotely like this, but who says it has to be authentic to be good?
You won't find such culinary exotica at Last Chance (5888-A Robert Oliver Place, Columbia,  730-5656), but if you're a connoisseur of malt, barley, and hops, this is your suburban Mecca. Last Chance has some 50-plus brews on tap, skimming the creamy head of the local and regional microbrew crop, and spanning the globe with its bottled offerings. There's plenty of sturdy tavern fare with which to wash it down, plus one of our favorite pub perks, free popcorn.