actually, I enjoyed all of _On the Road_ a lot. Its lyricism runs throughout the book, and the first lines are as poetic as the last.
I didn't mean to suggest that _Tristessa_ or _the Subterraneans_ should number 2 and 3. Rather, if one is interested in thinking critically, they reflect some of the same themes that I find troubling in _Dharma Bums_.
As for the Beats' knowlege of "oriental" things: I can say only that they understood only very little, by any measure. If one would compare a contemporary of theirs, like Rexroth, we can see that only the latter of someone who took China and Japan seriously, on their own merits.
This is not to say that we should not appreciate Kerouac and the Beats for what they did, but we should be ready to think independantsly, and to separate good from bad.