Tag Archives: thai

Thai Spice and Sushi: 8209 Natures Way Ste 111 Bradenton, FL

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thai salad thai basil wraps pad thai with shrimp When Gabriel and I arrived for dinner at Thai Spice and Sushi, there were 3 booths and one table filled. All of the other booths and tables were empty. Our host began leading us to a table for 2, smack in the middle of the restaurant and we asked to instead be seated at one of the booths for 2 people. He paused, uncomfortably, and told us he had to go check with his manager. Huh? The manager came back and said, “I’m sorry but we need to seat you at a table.” I asked, “Oh, are the booths all reserved?” and she replied “No, but we need to evenly divide the work of the waitstaff, and the other waiter already has 2 booths to wait on. ” I was a  bit taken aback by her response and pushed further asking, “What if suddenly 4 other parties come in for dinner, you will eventually seat people in those booths, right?” and she confirmed. She then told us that one of the other booths of people looked like they might be finishing up and we could wait for their table. Am I in the twilight zone? What kind of weirdo service rule is she following, especially in a fairly new restaurant where she should be trying to create a welcoming environment. Anyway, we really didn’t want the middle-of-the-room table so we decided to wait the 10 minutes it took to sit at a booth. This did not bode well for whatever was to follow.

Luckily, when we WERE finally seated, we quickly learned that our waiter was awesome. He was polite, funny, kind and knowledgeable. That *kind* of made up for it, but honestly, this manager really needs to re-think her approach.

We decided to share a few things including the basil fresh rolls (which had fresh veggies, basil and shrimp inside), the Thai salad with peanut dressing, and  the shrimp Pad Thai. I thought the rolls and salad/dressing were all awesome..The Pad Thai was so-so. It actually had kind of a ketchup-y flavor to me. I know some recipes call for ketchup, but this was just too much…and it overpowered the whole dish. It wasn’t awful- just definitely not the best example of Pad Thai I’ve had before.  When the waiter told us that the chef is actually FROM Thailand, I couldn’t help but think it was a shame that the recipe he or she learned was clearly not an authentic one.

Overall, our experience here was okay. As fantastic as our waiter was, the initial refusal to let us sit where we wanted really bugged me and may sway whether or not we go back. They do have some great sounding lunch specials on their menu and it might be worth one more shot…Have you been? What did you think?

Krispy Arepas: 8196 Tourist Center Dr Bradenton, FL

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Krispy arepas, plaintains, mushrooms and garlic:cilantro saucearepas with plaintains, beans, mushrooms, avocado, tomato, cheddar and pico de gallogarlic:cilantro sauce and avo:pico de gallo saucedulce de leche cookie. dulche de leche cookie side viewWOW. Great ethnic food 5 miles from my house!?!?! I’m SO frequently surprised about stuff like this, but really shouldn’t be anymore. So far, we have found amazing Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Greek, Mexican and now Venezuelan (although apparently it was recently sold to a Peruvian owner so there will be some changes soon) food, all within 10-20 minutes from where we live in suburban, cookie-cutter, pristine, totally non-diverse, Lakewood Ranch, FL.

We were both feeling a little bored of our stand-by dinner spots, so after a hard workout, we decided to give Krispy Arepas a try. I’d read a ton of great reviews online, and it sounded like the ‘something different’ that I was craving. We walked into the neon-green painted, brightly lit, fast food restaurant. It’s got a little flair with cute, little, real and fake painted cactuses and alpaca dolls on high-up shelves.

There were a few other people in there waiting- as we were told that fresh Arepas were being made and it would be about 10 minutes until they were ready. We asked the friendly guy behind the counter to tell us a bit about what Arepas are and he explained that they are sort of like a corn flatbread that are stuffed with various ingredients commonly found in South American countries. As non-meat-eaters, we were happy to see that the choices for us were plentiful, with plantains, mushrooms, beans, cheeses, avocados and other various veggies and sauces. Seeing how hungry we were, he gave us a small plate of mushrooms, plantains and a couple of the sauces to sample while we waited for the Arepas to be ready. It was actually more than 20 minutes later that we got the signal that it was finally time. He had felt so badly about the long wait that he also gave everyone who was waiting there a cup for free drinks…very nice of him, and that along with the snack more than made up for the long wait.

We had him fill our freshly cut-opened arepas with pretty much everything non-meat that could fit in there, and realized that we’d basically made them impossible to pick up and eat. No problem, thats’s what little plastic forks and knives are for. We sat down and dug in to the little pockets of flavor and both loved them right away. Exactly what we wanted. A big step away from the norm, and an exciting blend of new flavors. The sweet, soft plantains, the creamy avocado slices, the cool pico de gallo and the AWESOME green, garlic, cilantro sauce combined with cheddar cheese, sauteed mushrooms, tomatillo sauce and black beans filled the crispy, chewy corn sandwiches with wonderful texture and flavor. These LOOK like they may be too small to fill a hungry belly but nope, not at all. We were full and happy by the time we cleared our plates.

But wait, what’s that?? A fresh powered sugar homemade cookie filled with dulce de leche? Okay. I guess we can fit one of those in too. It wouldn’t be fair to write a review without a taste. Yum. Crisp powdery cookies with a creamy, sweet, salty center? Nothing bad about that.

We will definitely pay another visit soon- most likely on a Wednesday when it’s 50% off. You really can’t beat dinner for $5 a piece ($2.50 a piece on Wednesdays!!!), especially when it tastes this amazing.

Thailand Restaurant: 2238 Gulf Gate Dr. Sarasota, FL

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All of my worries about being able to find excellent ethnic food now that I’ve moved away from NYC have faded into a distant memory. I met my mom and step father for dinner here a few nights ago since it’s only about 5 minutes from my place of work. It looks horrible from the outside and I think they’d  be very smart of them to remedy that, but once inside, a pleasant atmosphere awaits. Dark wood carvings, rich fabrics and cozy booths make for a warm and inviting interior.

Menus and ice water were brought over right away along with a fresh pot of green tea. We looked over the menus and decided to share a few things. I started with a basic thai salad with a delicious peanut dressing and we ordered a chicken satay for the table which was wonderful. Fresh, tender and generous pieces of chicken served with the classic peanut sauce and vinegar/cucumber sauce were a great start to the meal. We shared a cashew/shrimp dish and a chicken with veggies dish that were both outstanding. The preparation of both dishes was light and healthy, allowing the true flavor of each ingredient to shine through.

The service was perfect; efficient, knowledgable and fast. The price was extremely reasonable, although the entree portions were slightly on the small side compared to most asian restaurants. We were totally satisfied with our dinners, we just didn’t have leftovers to bring home like we often do.

I would strongly recommend Thailand Restaurant- just ignore the appearance from the outside and trust me 🙂

 

 

 

Miss JC Garden: 8310 Market St. Lakewood Ranch, FL

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Gabriel and I moved into our new condo in Lakewood Ranch today! We were so excited to finally get here and settled in right away. Around 9:30, we realized we hadn’t eaten dinner yet and didn’t have any groceries so we decided to see what our options near Publix were. Publix is an awesome grocery store, but we NYers aren’t used to supermarkets that close at 10pm and we had to rush to pick up some things we needed for the next day.

A few doors away from Publix, we found Miss JC Garden. In the window, we saw the sign that they serve Chinese, Thai and Malaysian food with a healthy spin. Wow, what luck! Totally our kind of place.

We were welcomed warmly and seated right away in the empty restaurant. Light, airy  crunchy noodles, mustard and duck sauce were brought out along with ice water and menus. The menus are extensive, and it took us a bit to look through and decide what to order.

We eventually settled on healthy steamed chicken and vegetables with szechuan sauce on the side. We were happy to find out that they don’t use any MSG or chemicals here in their preparation. We also ordered Moo shu vegetables that came with 4 thin pancakes.

Everything that we ordered was piping hot, fresh, full of veggies and high quality ingredients. Our 2 entrees were the perfect amount of food and we quickly ate everything in front of us. Our total came to just over $20, a very reasonable price for the amount of food we were served.

We will absolutely be back…not only because it’s 3 minutes from where we live, but also because the service was friendly and personal, the food was awesome and healthy, and the options are endless.

Bravo Miss JC Garden. You’ve impressed 2 NYers who were worried we’d never find decent Chinese food around here…We are VERY happy to be wrong about that assumption.

Pho Cali: 1578 Main St. Sarasota, FL

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WOW! What a totally pleasant surprise! As a newly transplanted New Yorker, one of the things I was worried about when deciding to move to Florida was that I’d really miss the amazing ethnic food that’s so easy to find in NY. After trying Pho Cali, I realize that is not so at all. This was absolutely outstanding and I can already tell I’ll be back frequently.

Gabriel and I went in for lunch and ordered 2 dishes and a bubble tea to share. The bubble tea was lychee slush, made with real fruit. It was icy and sweet and totally refreshing and we slurped it down very happily after being outside in 85 degree weather.

Our dishes were the grilled shrimp vermicelli with peanuts and the shrimp and pork lotus stem salad. Both were light and healthy, with a sweet vinegary sauce on the side. I loved the lotus stems which were new to me- I’d only had lotus flower roots before, and the crunchy fried shallots on top added to the interesting combination of textures. The shrimp were incredibly fresh, cooked perfectly and lightly grilled. The thin strips of pork were full of flavor, but very lean and not at all overpowering to the delicate dish.

We left feeling satisfied but not stuffed, exactly what we were hoping for. All of this for a check of around $25 including tip. Oh yes, we will certainly be back soon. Hooray Pho Cali!

3E Taste of Thai. 34-16 Broadway, Queens, NY

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I have always heard that the best Thai food in NY is in Queens. It took me a very long time to go check it out- and actually this was only a week before moving out of the city to Florida. Well, better late than never. 3E Thai was indeed some of the best Thai food I’ve ever had and at prices that are FAR below my previous favorite (Land, on the Upper East Side)

Gabriel and I were in the area to pack up his apartment for our big move and when we finished our long day filled with boxes and packing paper, we were excited to replenish our lost calories with some great food. We arrived at 3E Thai and were seated right away in the fairly full restaurant. We looked over the menu and, after realizing that the prices were so awesome, decided to share a bunch of things.

We started with a spicy Tom Yum soup, one of my favorites, that came with a few large shrimp. The broth was full of lemongrass flavor with a little kick and we finished it quickly. Next, out came an awesome papaya salad, wonderful shrimp dumplings and an order of chicken satay. We shared the Pad Thai entree as well and it proved to be a bit less peanuty and heavy than it sometimes is. The whole meal was so fresh, light, and healthy and I’m a bit bummed that I won’t get a chance to repeat this whole meal. Oh well- at least I got to try it once! Go check it out…for half of the cost of a meal on the UES, you can eat twice as well.

Amber: 1406 3rd st. New York, NY

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Our time living in NYC is quickly coming to an end. We are moving to Florida at the end of March (and yes, of COURSE I will continue blogging and reviewing there). The days of a sushi restaurant on every block will be a thing of the past. This is one of the things that Gabriel and I will REALLY miss (as you can read about on our blog byebyeny.wordpress.com) about living here, along with the plethora of livingsocial, groupon, scoutmob type deals that are offered in this city.

We bought a deal for Amber that included 2 apps, 2 classic rolls and 2 entrees for (If I remember correctly) $30 and went to cash in last night. We were surprised to see that it was very crowded on a Tuesday night, and wondered how many others were there with coupons. We actually overheard the waitress ask the next table over from us if they had one, so it must be the reason it’s so packed. The service was very friendly and knowledgable but definitely on the slow side and we had about 5-10 minutes of waiting between each plate that was served.

We, as always, decided to share everything. We started with the BBQ ribs and the shrimp and veggie tempura starter. Just to be totally honest, I completely forgot to take a pic of the ribs so this one is a pic I found online. It actually came with a small side salad with a few slices of (presumably, canned) peaches. The ribs were on the fatty side, but crisp and flavorful. The tempura was so-so. Definitely not as light and flakey as it should have been, but the generous pieces of zucchini and eggplant sort of made up for that.

Our 2 rolls were the highlight for me. One was spicy scallop, which had large scallops in each piece rather than the chopped up kind that a lot of sushi places serve. The other was snowcrab and tobiko which was a little too salty for me, but fresh and a bit different that the ‘classic’ rolls I’d usually order. They came with the seaweed on the outside as I requested it, and were tightly and expertly wrapped.

For our entrees we had the chicken with basil sauce and brown rice and the bird’s nest. Hmm. These were somewhat disappointing. I couldn’t detect any basil flavor on the chicken – just an overly-sweet, orange-colored sauce. The eggplant in this dish was really tasty though, it kind of saved the dish from being a flop. The bird’s nest was totally the opposite of the impressive display I’d anticipated. At most restaurants, it’s served in a beautiful noodle-y basket but here it was a (presumably pre-made) bowl that looked (and tasted) a lot like styrofoam. The chicken, shrimp and veggies inside were fine, but certainly nothing unique or noteworthy.

Overall, I suppose I’d go back for the sushi, but probably not for the entrees or anything out of the ordinary. The sushi was quite good- but not spectacular…and given that I pass about 20 other sushi places on my way to Amber, I guess the likelihood of a return visit is pretty slim.

Ichi Umi: 6 East 32nd st. New York, NY

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If you’re ‘friends’ with me on yelp.com, you’ll know that my username is “Miss. I can eat my weight in sushi”. Ichi Umi is the perfect place for me to prove that fact, and reaffirm that I truly deserve the nickname. Gabriel and I had overheard some people talking about all-you-can-eat crab legs last weekend at brunch, and we craned over to ask them the where/when and how. When they told us about the $31.95 AYCE spread at Ichi Umi, we were totally sold and VERY psyched to check it out. We invited 3 other couples to join us and made reservations for the following weekend.

When we arrived to a crowded little waiting area, we were told that we’d have to wait until our whole party arrived to be seated. We weren’t thrilled about that, but it turned out that once 5 of us were there they ended up leading us to our table. It’s pretty darn noisy in there, and we quickly learned that a table of 8 was not going to have the easiest time conversing. Just a few moments later, when we began our feast, we realized that having perpetually full mouths also didn’t lend themselves to much chatting, so it was all okay.

My first step was to simply survey the block-long buffet to see what I definitely wanted to try, and what I should probably skip. Three different rice choices? Nah. Not worth the stomach space. Beer or sake? Also not worth the precious space as far as I was concerned. Plates and plates of oysters, sushi, sashimi, and crab legs? BINGO. I headed down into sushi/sashimi land to start…as you will see from the one plate pictured. That was my first plate of 5 or so, and the only one that I actually remembered to photograph.

I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of fish. It was really quite good, beautifully prepared and very fresh. Especially the salmon and the scallops which were the big standouts to me. Some of the best scallops I’ve had actually- which is saying a lot since they are one of my  favorites.

The restaurant is VERY crowded and so the chefs are constantly turning platters out with newly sliced delicacies on them. The chefs are a real treat to watch, there must be about 30 of them behind the buffet, efficient and precise, and ready to tsk tsk at you if you (shudder) don’t put the tongs back where they belong. (Yes, that happened to me. For shame!) The display of the whole buffet  is impressively clean and organized, with neat labels telling you exactly what everything is.

Knowing that I had an 8 mile run ahead of me the following day (I’m currently in training for the NYC half marathon) I was treating this dinner as a total free-for-all. I indulged every culinary curiosity on that buffet, having small tastes of just about everything, and going back for 2nds of my favorites. Aside from the raw salmon and scallops, those 2nds included the crab legs, the blue point oysters, the various seaweed salads, the Japanese fried chicken, the bok choy and mushrooms dish, and the green tea ice cream. The various gyoza choices were also really tasty and fresh, but since I missed their presence my first time around, I only ended up with enough belly room to have one of each type.

The desserts are only so-so, aside from the mango, green tea and red bean ice creams, so I would recommend skipping them and filling up on seafood instead. Not a hard thing to do. And hey, there’s always room for one more oyster.

Enjoy!

Chez Carey! Thai shrimp lemongrass soba soup

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                                                                                                                                                                                                           After a chilly evening run, I decided to experiment with a belly-warming soup for dinner. One of my favorites is the Tom Yum soup that most Thai restaurants serve. Not being someone who likes to follow recipes, I attempted to recreate something similar that could satisfy my craving. I also wanted to feel full, so I decided that adding buckwheat soba noodles to it would make it a more complete meal than the soup which is normally just broth and shrimp and a few veggies. As always, this recipe is really just a concept and can be played with as you see fit. I’ll give you a list of ingredients I used and a basic idea- and you can run with it from there. This turned out wonderful but (note to self) next time I will only add the noodles to the portion I plan to eat because the following day, the remaining noodles had pretty much sucked all of the soup up and I had to add some water to reconstitute it.

Add to 8 cups of chicken stock the following:

grated fresh ginger

sliced garlic

slivered scallions

chopped chiles or jalapenos.

a couple of teaspoons of oyster sauce

long pieces of lemongrass (so that you can easily remove them later)

a couple of teaspoons of soy sauce

a couple of tablespoons of almond butter (whisk this in once the soup has simmered for 10 minutes or so)

Let that all simmer for 20 minutes or so and them drop in a pound of cleaned shrimp. Continue to simmer until the shrimp turn pink and curl up.

Cook your soba (or vermicelli, or udon etc) noodles in a separate pot of boiling water. (this is the part I didn’t do…I made the mistake of adding the noodles to the soup along with the raw shrimp. I won’t do that next time)

Put a cup of raw baby spinach in a big bowl. Add a scoop of noodles on top of that. Fill the rest of the bowl with the soup and finish with a little hot sauce. Voila. Yum. Well, Tom Yum. Sort of.

P.S. I think next time I will also add some baby corn and straw mushrooms to this.

Song: 295 Fifth Ave. Brooklyn (Park Slope), NY

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I was in Park Slope for a rehearsal today and some band mates and I decided to go have lunch afterwards. We were pointed to this restaurant by the one person in the band who lives in the area, and since we all love Thai food we gave it a try. At 3pm on a Friday, it was relatively empty with only one or two other tables full. We were seated right away in the sleek, minimalistic atmosphere, and I noticed the great patio in the back with very cute ,colorful, printed pillows. It was a little too hot to sit out there, but on a cooler day it looked pretty awesome.

The menu was fairly typical Thai fair. The lunch entrees were all under $10, incredibly fair for a meal that was really above average.

The service was casual, friendly and fast. The kitchen is open, allowing for a view of the chefs and the flames as they made our meals.

We got a calamari appetizer for the table, which was lightly tempura battered and fried. Not at all greasy, and with a sweet and sour mango dipping sauce that went over very well. So well, in fact, that after we polished off the calamari and made it down to the bed of romaine that it sat on, we continued using the lettuce to dip until the sauce bowl was clean.

I had a Tom Yum Koong soup and a small salad with tofu and peanut sauce and everything was excellent. The soup had the perfect combo of tangy and spicy, and the shrimp and cilantro were fresh and flavorful. The salad was crisp and cold, with a few strips of fried tofu on top. The peanut sauce was an especially good one and I kind of wished I had ordered a bigger salad so I could keep using it.

If I’m in the area again craving Thai, I will definitely go back. Check it out!