In Sarasota restaurants featuring Asian fusion abound. The term “fusion” designates a restaurant that offers dishes that combine Eastern and Western culinary methods and ingredients in a way that creates imaginative new dishes. So, for the chopsticks-challenged, there’s no need to be embarrassed for using a fork — you can go both ways. Here are a few places that do it particularly well.
You don’t hear the name Klauber and think Asian. But, if you head into Tommy Klauber’s Longboat Key establishment, you’ll start to think otherwise. The place tagged as serving “fine coastal cuisine” doesn’t suggest it has a great Asian flair, but there are chopsticks at every place setting.
The menu features items such as a miso-glazed Chilean sea bass, and wok dishes such as the Palermo pad Thai that combines Italian fettuccine noodles and a Thai-influenced tamarind-peanut sauce. There’s tuna tartar wonton tacos with fried wontons filled with sakimole, Klauber-style guacamole that fuses avocado and saki and topped with decadent ahi tuna. And there’s the Thai chicken pizza with vegetables and chicken you’d find in a traditional noodle dish atop a pizza with a sticky soy glaze. Pattigeorge’s proves drool is a universal language.
Traditionally speaking, Thailand has strong Indian and Chinese influences. Drunken Poet Café owner Oy Punyahotra also lived in France. So, you’ll find things on the menu such as the Kang Massaman — a Thai interpretation of curry. But you’ll also find The Drunken Poet Café lobster rolls — a perfect example of fusion that combines traditional Japanese sushi with Maine lobster (actually served in its shell) and is fried to appease the American palate.
You’ll also find traditional and authentic Thai dishes on the menu such as gra pow or som tum — recipes that stem from her grandmother’s cookbooks.
Marc Brediger (who happens to be Oy Punyahotra’s son) just opened his first culinary venture in the same location most recently occupied by Bella Nonna’s. Brediger is a character steeped in fusion: He grew up in Thailand and lived in France, which you can tell by his thick French accent. His background in the culinary world includes working as sushi chef for his mom. To develop the Asian fusion menu he offers, he employed a chef from France.
The menu is French-leaning. You get the hanger steak, a lunch menu with tartines (French origin open-faced sandwiches), and most dishes served with pommes frites. The menu offers everything from a crispy sautéed mahi-mahi with asparagus, mashed potatoes and mango sauce to duck curry pizza and a Thai-inspired Mekong salad with tomatoes, onions and beef in a refreshing lime dressing.