Taste of Asia began serving its eclectic Asian cuisine from a small downtown Sarasota location on Main Street just more than eight years ago. Although the downtown restaurant space was small, the family owned and operated restaurant built an ardent group of loyal customers. Looking to expand, Taste of Asia closed their downtown restaurant and relocated to Siesta Key. Although the Siesta Key location offered outdoor dining and was slightly larger than the downtown Sarasota space, it was still quite small.
In the spring of 2013, an opportunity arose and once again, and the Taste of Asia team was on the move. A former South Trail fast-food location (Wendy’s I think), became available, and the plans were set for the new, higher profile Taste of Asia location. Like most renovations and build outs, there were some delays, but the new Taste of Asia opened on the South Trail at the end of September, 2013.
It is said that good things take time. The Taste of Asia’s transformation of a fast food location into an Asian dining experience can serve testament to such a statement. With indoor and outdoor dining options, Taste of Asia creates two distinct experiences. The outdoor space is very casual, somewhat stark, a tad noisy from the road traffic, but perfectly suited for a quick meal or sharing a few drinks and appetizers. The indoor space is more refined, with dark colored wood, dimmed lighting, a bar area and quiet booths and tables — perfectly suited for a meal and conversation amongst friends.
The menu at Taste of Asia is large, offering Lao, Thai, Vietnamese and vegan selections, many of which are gluten free. For our meals, we chose the following:
- Papaya Salad: Strips of papaya with chili pepper, fresh tomatoes, fresh lime juice, vermicelli noodle and lettuce. $11.00 A delightful mix of flavor and texture,; cool and refreshing, with a slight kick
- Lao Rolls (2): Crispy roll stuffed with ground pork, bean thread vermicelli, mushrooms, carrots, cabbage, onions and scallions. $4.00 Cut up into bite-size pieces; crisp and tasty. A great meal starter.
- Vietnam Roll (2): Fried rice-paper wrap stuffed with ground pork, bean thread vermicelli, mushrooms, carrots, cabbage, onions and scallion. $4.00 Yet again, another great meal starter; full of flavor and crunch.
- Fresh Rolls (2): Lettuce, mint, bean sprouts, rice vermicelli and shrimp (or choice of meat) wrapped in rice paper with dark peanut sauce. $4.00 A simple, almost elegant presentation of freshness. Love the dipping sauce.
- Lum-plings: (4) Served with special soy sauce. Homemade steamed dumplings with chicken, pork or tilapia, cabbage, chives and sesame flavor. $5.00
We chose chicken; one of our faves; love the texture, shape and simple comfort of this dumpling.
- Beef Sirloin: Choice top sirloin brushed and grilled with ginger, aniseed and cinnamon, coupled with mixed veggies and jasmine rice. $22.00 A very tender beef, full of flavor with snap. Crunchy, fresh veggies … very satisfying.
- Thai Coconut Milk Curry: Served with jasmine rice and a choice of one of the following: chicken, fried tofu, mixed vegetables, shrimp or calamari, satay, pork, beef, seafood or duck. Also chose one of five sauces. We chose chicken with red curry sauce. $13.00 Good-sized portion; fresh, crisp vegetables, sweet, with a nice kick from the red curry sauce, but not too spicy. Please note spiciness can be adjusted according to taste preferences.
- Lum’s Duck (Breast): Lum’s flavored boneless, crispy duck accompanied by veggie fried rice and choice of house sauce. We chose ginger sauce. $25.00 A large sized portion of rice and duck, great ginger sauce for dipping, very fresh
- Pad Thai Chicken: Rice noodles sautéed with egg, ground peanuts, bean sprouts and scallions. $12.50 Excellent pad Thai, not too greasy, not too dry or stick Jjust the right amount of flavors and textures.
- Corvina: Wild Caught corvina fillet grilled over lemon grass and paired with steamed veggies and fried rice. $20.00 An excellent presentation of very fresh fish, simply prepared. I asked for a hot Panang curry sauce on the side for dipping, which was spicy, just the way I like it, and superb.
Taste of Asia now offers full bar service with a daily happy hour from 5 to 6 p.m. In addition to the full bar service, there is a nice selection of beer, wine, and soft drinks to accompany your meal. We found the wait staff to be very friendly, fast, efficient and knowledgeable; often offering suggestions and accommodating special requests.
With its higher-profile location, authentic Asian cuisine, and the expanded dining space, Taste of Asia is poised to bring a new, homemade style of Asian dining to Sarasota. Not too big; not too small; the new location for Taste of Asia feels just right.
Taste of Asia 4413 South Tamiami Trail Sarasota, FL 34231 941-923-2742
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 5 to 9:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday, 4:30 to 8:30 p.m.
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