Discerning diners were aghast earlier this year when news leaked that Taste of Asia—which specializes in Laotian, Thai and Vietnamese cuisine—would be closing down for good. Selina Lum, who owns the restaurant with her husband, Lam Lum, the chef, says the couple had inked a deal with another business that wanted to lease the Taste of Asia building. But that arrangement went belly-up, and so the Lums decided to stick around, hoping for a boost thanks to some slight changes to how they do business.
The restaurant previously offered traditional sit-down and takeout service at dinner only. These days, you can also go in for lunch and you can choose between takeout, tableside service and what the restaurant is calling “self service.” If you choose the latter, you place your order at the front counter and pick it up when it’s ready. The dish comes in a biodegradable container that you pitch at the end of your meal. It’s a faster way to eat, and it saves you cash because you don’t need to tip. “We want to make it all about the food,” says Selina. “We don’t want it to be about the, ‘Ooh,’ and the, ‘Aah.’”
Taste of Asia opened in downtown Sarasota in 2005 before moving to Siesta Key in 2008 and then settling on U.S. 41 in 2013. Wherever Taste of Asia has been located, the food has been terrific, and nothing about the new setup changes that. The “Lao Curry Noodle Soup,” in particular, is marvelous—a huge noodle bowl filled with a flavorful coconut milk and chicken broth, zingy with galangal, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves. Thank goodness the Lums had a backup plan.
Taste of Asia is located at 4413 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, and is open 11:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. For more info, call (941) 923-2742 or visit the restaurant's website.