Thaitanic Sushi is a little restaurant with a lot of heart, serving up not only top-notch sushi but elegant curries and tempura dishes.
The simple menu embodies the best of Japanese and Thai fare. The kitchen doesn't take on too much but tackles just enough to satisfy.
Do not let the exterior of this lovely restaurant fool you. Thaitanic Sushi occupies a corner spot in a worn shopping area in Winter Park, but the small dining room inside is clean and simple. A few black tables fill the space and an open, gleaming kitchen is the focal point along one wall.
Naly Phimmasone and Linda Vongkhamsene have created a fresh concept with a top-rate crew. The business partners are no strangers to restaurants, running the now-closed Bangkok Square before opening Thaitanic Sushi in December.
Start with the summer rolls (two for $3.95) with peanut sauce. The tight cylinders of tender rice paper encased lettuce, carrots, lightly steamed plump shrimp and thin rice noodles. The accompanying condiment was thick with soft notes of coriander and a restrained sweetness.
Our double tuna sushi roll ($11.95) was a spicy, meaty number with a nice mix of textures from the buttery avocado and tempura flakes. The roll was draped with a piece of escolar that had been singed with a blowtorch. Fresh cilantro added a citrus note and a few hits of sriracha — a spicy paste of chili peppers, distilled vinegar, garlic, sugar and salt — ignited the palate.
The pad thai ($9.95) was an elegant interpretation with egg, scallions, crisp bean sprouts, tender rice noodles, stir-fried with peanuts and thin slices of poultry. The dish had notes of tamarind and smoked paprika. The sauce was drier than most I have had, but excellent nonetheless. (This dish, which is mostly associated with Thailand, has roots in Vietnam. In the hands of Thai cooks the dish evolved into a classic.)
The red curry ($10.95) had a pleasant light spice and included sweet bell peppers, bamboo shoots and carrots bathed in a basil-scented, coconut-milk sauce.
Regular readers know that I can't resist a bento box ($9.95). These compartmentalized food containers range from throwaway "plates" to stacking jars to beautiful, handcrafted lacquerware. At Thaitanic Sushi there are Japanese and Thai versions. I stayed with the traditional Japanese and ordered the tempura shrimp box served with miso soup, two pieces of California roll and white rice. The batter clung to the shellfish like an attractive veil — enhancing the food, not hiding it.
The mango sticky rice ($6.95) is the only dessert made in-house, probably one of the reasons why it is so good. It had that wonderful hint of rum that comes from a perfectly ripe mango.
There is a thoughtfulness to the food preparation here no matter if you are eating in or taking out. And to-go fare is refreshingly not fast food so plan your drive by accordingly.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-420-5498
**1/2 out of four
Where: 7581 University Blvd. in Winter Park (east of Goldenrod Road)
When: Monday-Thursday 11 a.m-3 p.m. and 5-10 p.m., Friday 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5-11 p.m., Saturday 5-11 p.m., Sunday 5-10 p.m.
How much: Lunch $7.95-$12.95; dinner, $4.25-$28
Beverages: Beer, wine and soft drinks
Extras: Good for groups, family friendly, table service, takeout, vegetarian and vegan options
Wheelchair access: Easy
Noise level: Small dining room is pretty quiet
Credit: American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
Online: Thaitanicsushi.com and Facebook
Diningon a budget
The Thai bento boxes at lunch are a bargain at $9.95. Guests can choose from pad Thai, drunken noodle and Bangkok stir-fried noodle. The meal includes a ginger salad, soup of the day and a sushi roll.