Tasty Thai and Sushi’s task is finding its flavor balance in Mount Pleasant

Deidre Schipani – Wednesday, July 24, 2013

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Wade Spees/Staff
Tasty Thai and Sushi is at 320 W. Coleman Blvd. in Mount Pleasant.

Tasty Thai & Sushi

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Tasty Thai and Sushi

Cuisine: Asian

Category: Neighborhood Favorite

Address: 320 West Coleman Blvd., Shops of Mount Pleasant Center

Phone: 388-3912

Bar: Beer and wine

Hours: 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m. and 5-10 p.m. Monday-Friday; noon-10 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday

Food: 3

Service: 2

Atmosphere: 2 1/2

Price: $-$$$$

Costs: Appetizers $5.95-$6.95; soups and salads $7.95-$14.50; noodles $13.95; curries $13.95; entrees $13.50; house specialties $16.95-$22.95; sides $2-$10.95; desserts $4.95; sushi $4-$9; specialty combos $15-$23.95, specialty rolls (8 pieces) $11-$15

Vegetarian Options: Yes

Wheelchair Accessible: Yes

Parking: Parking lot

Other: www.tastythaiandsushi.com, tastythaiandsushi@gmail.com, Facebook, Twitter, rezbook, catering, QuickFoxes delivery 277-9271, carry-out, lunch specials Monday-Friday $5.99-$7.99 including rice bowls, platters, bento boxes and sushi platters. An 18 percent gratuity added to parties of six or more.

A bit of restaurant “ancestor worship” has taken up residence at 820 West Coleman Blvd. in Mount Pleasant.

Not so long ago, 820 was the Pasta Grill and its aquamarine walls, and Murano-like glass pendants remain. They now illuminate a sushi bar, not a pasta bar.

The Grill first begat Tropical Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar and the pasta bar’s buffet became a smorgasbord of globally inspired pan-Asian dishes.

But success evaded Tropical, and now another rice-eating country has taken its place. If the cultural icons of Thailand, elephants, pull their weight with a full measure of fortune and labor, Tasty Thai and Sushi may have found its muang (community).

Tasty Thai and Sushi Mount Pleasant owner Suriyasak Pansap has partnered well in the ethnic restaurant pantheon, as his colleague/partner owns Tasty Thai and Sushi on King Street, Taste of Thai in West Ashley and Pad Thai in Summerville.

Clearly “Sunny” Pansap has passed the cooking of Thailand litmus test.

This modest storefront restaurant has three tables on the nine-seat sushi bar side of the dining room and four booths that are nestled along an exposed brick wall in the interior space. Two more booths are aligned along the window wall facing the parking lot.

The walls wear a colorful replica of the Cooper River Bridge with appropriate symbolic Thai images adding colorful graphics to the space. The iconic elephant images are repeated throughout. Tasty Thai is trying to keep Ganesh very happy.

The menu is expansive. Indonesian satays ($6.95), Chinese eggrolls and wontons ($5.95-$6.50), Japanese edamame ($4.95) along with soups, salads, noodle dishes, curries, entrees and house specialties provide a wide range of choices as does the sushi menu.

Fans of vinegared rice (sushi) or raw fish (sashimi) will find nigiri and sashimi ($4-$8), regular rolls ($5-$9), special sashimi ($15/6 pieces); combo plates ($17.95-$25.95) and chef’s special rolls ($11-$15/8 pieces) in abundance. Vegetable rolls ($4.50-$7.50) also are on the menu.

The spice levels graduate from mild to Thai hot. Medium has some kick; it’s better to keep your Scoville Units manageable and add nahm prik, hot chilies, to suit your own singe and sear level.

Overall, we found that the heat indices were accurate for this chili-stoked cuisine but the balance of sweet, sour, salty and hot were compromised.

The yum koong ($9.95) salad of grilled shrimp, cucumbers, onions, celery, cilantro, lemongrass and romaine dressed with bright lime dressing earned high marks for balance and freshness.

The house specialty, basil duck ($22), is a nod to kai sa luk, the art of fruit and vegetable carving. It was topped with baby bok choi, asparagus and broccoli, and veined with bell peppers, scallions, hot chilies and crinkle-cut carrots. The dish married crisp, bright vegetables to well-seasoned, but dry duck pieces.

Pork ribs ($6.95) in a Thai barbecue sauce, though tender, had nothing that spoke Thai about them. No lemongrass, coriander, chili paste, ginger or fish sauce. If you were expecting, as we were, flavors dancing at the intersection of sweet, salty, sour and hot, it was not the direction of that dish.

In fact the multicultural menu-ism that is at play here confuses the kitchen or, at a minimum, restrains them.

The Thai classic tom kha gai soup ($7.95, $12.95 pot), based on a coconut milk broth and shored up with galangal, lemongrass, cilantro and scallions, offered faint praise to these robust ingredients. Its flavor was good and the quantity of chicken indulgent but the tart and sour notes were missed.

With a seven-page menu at Tasty Thai, it will serve you well to know ahead if you are going for sushi, a salad and soup; a four-course Thai meal; a pan-Asian “tapas” experience; a rich bowl of Buddhist monk-inspired massaman ($13.95); or yellow curries ($13.95). You have many decisions to make.

The young servers still seem to be getting their rhythm (Tasty Thai opened in May) and with only one sushi chef slicing, rolling, cutting and saucing, patience is required.

That being said, freshness is on the menu and I am confident the resourceful Sunny Pansap will bring sure-handed seasoning to the cuisine of the Land of Smiles. Let’s hope he finds the lemongrass is greener East of the Cooper.