Mall Food Reviews: Castleton Edition 

You rely on us at NUVO to connect you with the information you need while you're moving about the community. Sure, we could bring you reviews of the latest restaurants and bars (and we will again, soon) but that won't assist you right where idealism's rubber meets life's icy road. Instead, here is the first in a series you'll actually need and use this season: mall food reviews.

Castleton Mall is probably Indy's most popular, and one of the busiest in town. The indoor complex is essential Indiana, with plenty of shops aimed at pre-teens, teens, and adults who want to get all their shopping done and get the fuck out of there (also known as parents of all children everywhere). This is the part where I remind you that shopping in independently-owned stores is often a lot less crowded and parking isn't as much of a waking nightmare. So now you're reminded.

God forbid you get stuck here long enough to need a meal, but if that unthinkable reality should fall on you, we've searched out the best of the worst of mall food on 82nd street.

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WORST: Maki of Japan

For some unknown reason, the trained chef that I brought with me on this adventure went to Maki of Japan and ordered what they refer to as "tempura." Those of us who know and love the airy Japanese answer to our heavy American batter would get excited about this. Along with the "tempura chicken," there were a few small spring rolls and some pan-fried gyoza. Like any good American, I looked forward to chomping into fried, dough-covered proteins formed into a finger shape. However, upon biting into it, I discovered that their batter might, in fact, be used to make funnel cakes. It was kind of like eating a chicken finger wrapped in a partially-cooked pancake, but with no discernible chicken or dough flavor. It tasted the way industrial beige paint looks.

All the other fried goodies had the same thing going on. We deprived ourselves of a dipping sauce, which turned out to be a fatal mistake. Anything — salsa, fish sauce, Vegemite — would've make this an infinitely more edible plate of food to eat. It just tasted like mushy, greasy nothing.

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MOST: Asian Chao

God forbid you have to bring an athletic teenager to the mall with you. In that case, we'd advise you send them right over to Asian Chao. The food here is totally decent, with enough identifiable vegetables in their hot trays to feel good about what you're eating. They also give you a buttload of food to go if you're super hungry. Not all the protein is coated in something fried and dredged in sweet sauce (but a lot of it is), and you can definitely max out your protein intake at this place for relatively little money at about $10.

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Even the pickiest eater, both big and small, can get down on some burgers. Between this and the pizza joint, you'll end up a lot more full on a lot less grease by choosing Indy Burger. It's an independently-owned burger shop that does just what it says it does: beef patties and hot fries. The toppings were fresh and the meat was pretty good. It's not rocket science, but that's the beauty of the burger joint.

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BEST: Freshii

We chose this one without tasting anything but a smoothie, but the smoothie we had from Freshii was the only thing that tasted really good and didn't cause major gastrointestinal stress. It makes sense, since the Freshii brand recently underwent a makeover a la Chipotle. Now you can get vegetarian and vegan options, as well as quick foods like smoothies and frozen yogurt. The green smoothie we got was creamy and rich from the addition of avocado, and it tasted, well, like the fruits and vegetables in it. We realized that we had ignored Freshii as it was on the wall opposite the regular semi-circle of restaurants and had filled up on grease before noticing it. But unlike the leftovers from the other restaurants, which were not further consumed outside the mall, that happy little green smoothie came home with me and I sipped on it until it was empty. Just go to the place with all the fruits in the case, dingus.

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Sarah Murrell

Sarah Murrell

Sarah Murrell covers all things food, beverages and sometimes gives decent sex and relationship advice. You can stream her consciousness on Twitter, if that's where life has brought you.

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