Thursday, July 19, 2018
Bars & Spirits

At Asie Pan-Asian, cocktails take you on a global tour

I know it may seem odd to hit up an Asian restaurant for cocktail kicks, but you’d be surprised what’s out there. I got my start doing this column by reporting on the cocktails at Zom Hee, a Chinese restaurant in Pinellas Park that I still visit. Sure, the food’s great, but I love the kitschy cocktail-bar component even more.

Asie Pan-Asian, the third installment in the prolific Thuy Le’s restaurant portfolio — she’s also behind Thuy Cafť and La V — has racked up high marks for creative fusion fare in its first six months. But its globe-trotting cocktail menu is more than an afterthought, and curious drinkers should take note.

Although Asie is a restaurant first, it has a substantial bar in the center of its long dining room. That’s where you’ll find the modest but well-picked bottle selection, featuring some more uncommon spirits, such as Tanduay rum from the Philippines and Japanese whiskies from Suntory (Toki, Hibiki, Yamazaki). The bar even stocks Kikori, a Japanese rice whiskey — whiskey with an "e," as it’s produced specifically for the U.S. market — that has more in common with higher-end Korean soju than it does with its countrymates from Suntory.

These fun, colorful touches are a nice complement to the food, a collage of fresh and flavorful elements from Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese, Chinese and Korean cuisine. Separate menus for vegetarian and gluten-free dishes are available upon request.

Right in the middle of the main menu, you’ll find some fun cocktail photos to accompany a list of six signature drinks. The cocktails are regionally themed: the Tokyo Old Fashioned uses Suntory Toki as its base, while the Manila Mojito uses Tanduay rum and fresh ginger for a Filipino twist.

Some incorporate regional influence more obliquely, like the Beijing Collins, which adds hibiscus to the classic, adding color and a light floral quality to the drink. The Saigon Sunset is effectively a foam-topped Cape Cod and is garnished with an edible flower.

The Seoul Sunrise, curiously, uses mango juice and Lebťlula tequila as its bases, served in a chili salt-lined glass and garnished with a shiny red chili pepper. Nothing about this drink says Korean, but it’s tasty. Ever try one of those pickled mangoes in chili paste that you can get at the Vietnamese market? This is the cocktail version of those.

My favorite, however, is the Bangkok Unknown-Date. Langley’s gin is the base, but the combination of lychee fruit and fresh basil provide a wildly exotic aromatic quality that takes the drink to another level. This drink alone is worth a visit.

If Zom Hee is the Chinese restaurant with an old-school cocktail lounge, Asie is the modern take, with fresh and exciting cocktails to match a menu influenced by regional Asian cuisines. In both cases, it’s unlikely that I’ll visit with no intention of dining, but it’s equally unlikely that I’ll skip the cocktails.

— Contact Justin Grant at jg@saintbeat.com. Follow @WordsWithJG.

Comments
Nitallyís set to reopen at a new, more intimate, South Pasadena location

Nitallyís set to reopen at a new, more intimate, South Pasadena location

Folks who have missed testing their taste buds with a St. Petersburg eateryís famous inferno soup will get a chance to do so once again.Nitallyís ThaiMex Cuisine, which closed its downtown St. Petersburg location in May, will open soon in a smaller l...
Published: 07/18/18
Tampa Bay is a perfect place to make your own food tour. Here are our suggestions.

Tampa Bay is a perfect place to make your own food tour. Here are our suggestions.

There are many good reasons to eat at four or five places in one night. A near overwhelming number of new restaurants in the Tampa Bay area can provoke anxiety in a certain kind of diner, the one who wants to try everything but doesn’t have th...
Published: 07/18/18
Food tours offer an informative, and delicious, look at different areas of Tampa Bay

Food tours offer an informative, and delicious, look at different areas of Tampa Bay

There is a running list on my phone of restaurants to try. A romantic evening at St. Petersburg’s Reading Room. The Safety Harbor double date night, so we can finally take our friends to Pizzeria Gregario. Splurging on the chef’s tasting ...
Published: 07/18/18
Where to get a good hot dog in Tampa Bay for National Hot Dog Day

Where to get a good hot dog in Tampa Bay for National Hot Dog Day

Monday, July 23, is National Hot Dog Day. I donít know precisely why, but I think some major lobbying from the sausage board was involved. Itís baseball season, itís barbecue season, itís I-donít-feel-like-cooking season. Those are plenty of reasons....
Published: 07/18/18
Where to eat and drink around Safety Harbor: Gigglewaters bar, Parts of Paris, Sno Beach and more

Where to eat and drink around Safety Harbor: Gigglewaters bar, Parts of Paris, Sno Beach and more

Not that many years ago, downtown Safety Harbor was a little lean on places to eat. Green Springs Bistro had been an anchor, Whistle Stop and Celloís Char House, too. But no one would have called it a dining destination. It was too bad: The city of 1...
Published: 07/18/18
Eat and drink your way through Tampa Heights with stops at Hall on Franklin, Armature Works and more

Eat and drink your way through Tampa Heights with stops at Hall on Franklin, Armature Works and more

Five or six years ago, if you were to stand on the steps of the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts and look north along the Hillsborough River, there wouldnít be much to see. Just a couple of old warehouses and some rubble in the area ...
Published: 07/18/18
In South Tampa, create a dinearound with stops at Bernís, Haven and the Epicurean Hotel

In South Tampa, create a dinearound with stops at Bernís, Haven and the Epicurean Hotel

I had a specific vision for my 35th birthday.Relaxation mostly. Bathrobe. Wine. Maybe a massage or a pool. Food, food, food. A handful of close friends. I did some research at beach hotels in Clearwater and St. Pete Beach and found the price range ou...
Published: 07/18/18
Bowled over: From acai to poke, the top 10 bowls in Tampa Bay

Bowled over: From acai to poke, the top 10 bowls in Tampa Bay

Why, exactly, are bowls the new plates? The Wall Street Journal declared it so. Tableware companies like Fiesta have reported serious double-digit growth in the sale of bowls, salad bowls, cereal bowls, you name it. Fast-food restaurants have jumped...
Published: 07/17/18
Fantastic French red wines for just $15 a bottle

Fantastic French red wines for just $15 a bottle

We usually donít expect red wines from Anjou, a small subregion of Franceís Loire Valley, to be any good, but hereís an example that will persuade even the most cynical wine skeptic to scour store shelves for obscure wines. I also recommend a refresh...
Published: 07/17/18
This simple shrimp dish lets summer vegetables shine

This simple shrimp dish lets summer vegetables shine

o the Washington PostThis meal of crisp vegetables and plump shrimp is light, fresh, flavorful and fast. It is just the thing to whip up when you need to reset from a weekend of typical summer party fare, heavy on the grilled meats and mayonnaise-y s...
Published: 07/17/18