Taste of Asia serves up authentic, homemade Asian food on Siesta Key. Photo courtesy of Taste of Asia.
Tuesdays are often the hardest day of the week. On Monday, you come into the office, (hopefully) feeling happy and rested from the weekend, and get yourself organized and ready to go for the rest of the week.
Then, on Tuesday, you have to begin executing everything you just got organized. And as far as how that goes—well, it can vary wildly.
So I like to end my Tuesdays on a high note—preferably with a meal with friends. And that’s exactly what I did last night, at Taste of Asia on Siesta Key.
Owned by Chef Lam Lum and his wife, Selina, who are Laotian, Taste of Asia is nestled into a cozy little space in a corner of the Davidson Drugs plaza on Ocean Boulevard, right in the heart of Siesta Village. (You may also remember Taste of Asia’s Main Street outpost, where the Lums served their food before relocating to Siesta Key in 2010.) You can sit inside or outside; though we decided it was too hot to dine outdoors, we all agreed that it would be lovely to enjoy our meals outside in the cooler fall weather.
The interior of the restaurant, though tiny, is decorated with items handpicked by the Lums, and an elephant theme is immediately apparent (appropriate since Laos is known as the “land of a million elephants”). One of the most striking elements is the hand-carved dining table—the Lums removed its legs and mounted it as a piece of art, which now hangs proudly on the wall.
But the real star of Taste of Asia is, of course, the food.
We began with a papaya salad with vermicelli that was so light and fresh it was almost impossible to stop eating. Good thing we did stop, though—otherwise there wouldn’t have been room for Taste of Asia’s melt-in-your-mouth chicken dumplings (affectionately known as “lumlings” here; a play on the Lums’ last name), larb gai (chopped chicken salad with fresh herbs) and veggie pad Thai.
And dieters, take note: All of the items mentioned above, with the exception of the dumplings, are part of Taste of Asia’s low-calorie menu. Not one item contained more than 275 calories per serving, and many of the items are vegan and gluten-free.
But in the case of our table, any hope of calorie-counting flew right out the window when a parade of entrees arrived at the table. There was basa, tilapia and mussels, all prepared in different ways and with different sauces. There were curries—red and green, made with coconut milk and served with seafood—that I loved so much I wanted to bathe in them. And there was something I’d never tried before: cauliflower “rice,” which had the texture and consistency of actual rice, but with fewer carbs and more flavor. When it arrived at the table, there was a general “hmm-ing” and perplexed cocking of the heads from our group, but it turned out to be one of the most popular items on the table, delicious on its own but also just the right vessel for sopping up the sauces on our plates.
We all waddled out of the restaurant, stuffed and happy, vowing to make return trips. A new Tuesday-night tradition, perhaps?
Taste of Asia is open for dinner (including takeout orders) from 4:30-9:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and from 4:30-9:00 p.m. on Sundays; it is closed Mondays. For more information, visit www.tasteofasiasrq.com or call (941) 349-2742. Additionally, every Tuesday and Friday, if you mention the Team Tony Foundation, 25 percent of all dine-in and takeout checks will be donated to the foundation —visit www.teamtony.org for more.