Saturday, September 22, 2018
Dining

Restaurant review: Asiatic Street Food & Noodle Bar brings solid Thai dining option to Centro Ybor

TAMPA

Centro Ybor has been rough stuff when looking for something good to eat over the years. Samurai Blue has always held down the fort, as has Tampa Bay Brewing Co., and certainly Hamburger Mary's gets some points on the board for providing a rollicking good time.

More recently, Carne Chop House has elevated the options, but otherwise things have come and gone, never cementing the complex as a notable dining destination.

I looked away for a moment and things have heated up. Hyppo has an ice pop outpost in the old Joffrey's Coffee & Tea Co. spot (seriously, their pistachio rosewater pop keeps me up at night), a distillery called Fish Hawk Spirits has set up shop, and Asiatic Street Food & Noodle Bar debuted in December in the space that once housed Fresh Mouth.

Matthew Ong, who is also the managing partner of the restaurant's sibling, Thai Thani in Channelside, is focused this time on quick and affordable Thai street food, just about everything $11 and under. Most of it is hold-your-own noodle bowls (and because the transliteration is flexible, they are calling dishes "phat" instead of "pad," which is kind of hip, although the word really sounds more like "putt" when a Thai person says it), with an appealing short lineup of appetizers.

The dining room is attractive, with two seating areas on either side of a central semicircular bar. For the most part servers seem very new to Thai food and squeamish about volunteering any real guidance or definitive knowledge about the menu.

You're on your own, but it's not tricky.

The best place to start is with the house Asiatic wings ($6.50), a passel of crunchy-battered nibbles, very moist, paired with a sweet chili dipping sauce. The house gyoza ($5.95) and pot stickers ($5.95) are nothing you haven't seen before, fairly pedestrian, but roti are a slightly less common offering, an unleavened griddle-cooked chapati served in wedges with a thin but appealing curry sauce ($3.95). For something light and refreshing, a small bowl of tom yum goong ($4.50) brings a tangy-spicy lemongrass broth (no coconut milk) crowded with shrimp, mushrooms and diced tomato.

From there, it's time for serious carbo-loading. There are traditional green and panang curries, offered with your choice of protein, but the less common dishes are worth exploring. Guay tieow loth shrimp ($10.95) pairs pan-tossed wide, flat noodles with ground pork, tofu and shrimp in a soy sauce with a fairly notable five-spice flavor, the whole thing topped with cilantro and bean sprouts. Another one I'd revisit is the knom jhean ($11.50), a deep white bowl of rice noodles in a coconut-y green curry sauce with eggplant, bamboo, chicken and basil — a nice balance of flavors and veggies that seemed fresh.

The menu has a number of Sharpie revisions, dishes inked out, so you do a little sleuthing trying to decode what is no longer on offer. The beverage list is small (decent Thai tea, but it comes with a surprising floof of whipped cream), and there don't seem to be any desserts on offer (fine, you can go to Hyppo and get that ice pop). To me, the biggest head scratcher is the name, the word Asiatic deemed long ago mildly offensive when describing a people, cuisine or culture, although it's still used to describe flora and fauna from Asia. Evidently it's a nod to an open-air mall in Bangkok.

I'm just happy to see Centro Ybor burgeoning with new dinner and date-night options.

Contact Laura Reiley at [email protected] or (727) 892-2293. Follow @lreiley. She dines anonymously and unannounced; the Times pays all expenses.

     
Comments
Joe and Son's Olive Oils, a legacy Ybor business, finds new roots in Carrollwood

Joe and Son's Olive Oils, a legacy Ybor business, finds new roots in Carrollwood

Andrea Gebbia grew up in Carrollwood, and now she is bringing the family business to the neighborhood of her youth.In late fall, Joe and Son’s Olive Oils is slated to open a second location."I feel so blessed having the ability to grow my...
Published: 09/21/18
Chi Chop + Kung Fu Tea looks to succeed where others failed

Chi Chop + Kung Fu Tea looks to succeed where others failed

RIVEVIEW – Amy Lin knows that her newest Chi Chop + Kung Fu Tea store is in a location where previous businesses have not lasted.The short-lived Tap’s Brewhouse & Deli and even shorter-lived Top Shelf Sports Bar and Grill tried to r...
Published: 09/21/18
New restaurants: Olivia from Chris Ponte, Crabby Bill’s Off the Hook

New restaurants: Olivia from Chris Ponte, Crabby Bill’s Off the Hook

COMING SOON: OLIVIA Chris Ponte, right, has been a steady and notable culinary leader in our area for more than a decade with his flagship restaurant Cafe Ponte in Clearwater. A couple of years ago he mixed things up a bit by debuting On Swann in Hy...
Published: 09/19/18
Restaurant review: The Local doesn't stand out enough above its Tampa neighbors to make an impact

Restaurant review: The Local doesn't stand out enough above its Tampa neighbors to make an impact

TAMPA Do you have this debate? "Florida is not in the South." "Um, look at a map." I guess I am in the former camp: It seems Florida gets more Southern the more north and west you go, accents only creeping in as reliably as boiled peanuts up on the ...
Published: 09/17/18
Updated: 09/18/18
Chefs offer up a taste of whatís coming to Sparkman Wharf

Chefs offer up a taste of whatís coming to Sparkman Wharf

TAMPA ó On Wednesday night, about 60 people got a sneak preview of what Tampa diners soon will experience at Sparkman Wharf, part of the $3 billion Water Street Tampa neighborhood that Jeff Vinik and Strategic Property Partners are developing in what...
Published: 09/14/18
Whatís new in food: Clearwater Beach Restaurant Week, National Cheeseburger Day

Whatís new in food: Clearwater Beach Restaurant Week, National Cheeseburger Day

DINE AROUND: CLEARWATER BEACH RESTAURANT WEEKPromoted by the Clearwater Beach Chamber of Commerce, Clearwater Beach Restaurant Week is celebrating its ninth year Friday through Sept. 23. The culinary celebration offers foodies an opportunity to exper...
Published: 09/12/18
Restaurant review: Part fish shack, part high-end cocktail bar, Trophy Fish in St. Petersburg thrives on a fresh approach

Restaurant review: Part fish shack, part high-end cocktail bar, Trophy Fish in St. Petersburg thrives on a fresh approach

ST. PETERSBURGI value restaurants and people the same way, I suppose. I like those with a take. They donít have to be the smartest or the prettiest, but the ones I like have a unique perspective, something that differentiates them from everybody else...
Published: 09/10/18
Updated: 09/11/18
Tampaís Fly Bar and Restaurant will move locations

Tampaís Fly Bar and Restaurant will move locations

TAMPA ó Restaurant announcements for Sparkman Wharf and Strategic Property Partnersí 50-acre Water Street Tampa project have come fast and furious the past couple weeks. With a price tag of more than $3 billion and reading like a whoís who of Tampa B...
Published: 09/07/18
James Beard winner Anne Kearney to open Oak & Ola in Armature Works

James Beard winner Anne Kearney to open Oak & Ola in Armature Works

TAMPA ó It was always part of the plan for the 22,000-square-foot Heights Public Market at Armature Works to have two anchor restaurants in addition to the fourteen quick-serve vendors. The developers debuted Steelbach, a sprawling steaks and chops b...
Updated one month ago
Whatís new in food: The Artisan, Big Rayís Fish Camp, Joe and Sonís Olive Oils

Whatís new in food: The Artisan, Big Rayís Fish Camp, Joe and Sonís Olive Oils

COMING SOON: THE ARTISANGulfport is heating up. Iíve been hearing raves about Golden Dinosaurs vegan deli, and now it seems that seasoned restaurateurs Michael Stewart, left, and Tom Golden will open an art and food collective called the Artisan in G...
Updated one month ago