Tokyo Bay Mang Sushi and Japanese Steakhouse spans a spectrum of cooking ideologies, simultaneously folding fresh, raw fish into sushi rolls, searing hibachi items in a scorching blaze, and rounding out the menu with pan-Asian entrees and Thai dishes. Chefs fire up three front-and-center teppanyaki tables, where flaming plumes obscure steak, shrimp, and scallops. The King lobster sushi roll sports dual tempura and fried lobster tails swept up in the flavors of faux crab, asparagus, avocado, and eel sauce. Basil sprinkles thai curries and piping-hot seafood, served behind a façade that mimics the tiered roofs in Thailand that protect possessions from pad thai monsoons.
A combination of savory, sweet, and spicy aromas greets diners when they enter The Queen and I Restaurant, serving as an aromatic prelude to the menu's extensive selection of fragrantly seasoned cuisine. The cooks can stir-fry chicken, pork, or scallops and moonlight-ripened vegetables in a number of sauces, imbuing their entrees with flavors of ginger, basil, or fiery chili paste.
Featuring taupe-hued walls and white tablecloths, the dining room has walls with framed artwork and a painted mural of Thai statues that lend a more authentic trans-Pacific feel than a flipbook made entirely of travel brochures.
The chefs at Tasty Thai Cafe piece together a spread of classic Thai recipes with garlic, coriander, mint, lemongrass, and other quintessential spices. Pad Thai, lad nar, and other noodle dishes share menu space with sweet and sour chicken, basil fried rice, and specialty creations, such as the Two Friends Panang curry filled with chicken and shrimp tethered by mixed vegetables and lanyard bracelets. Thai iced tea and coffee, wines, and desserts, including mango sticky rice and fried bananas, help round out each meal.
The culinary creators at Chiang Mai Thai & Sushi Bar artfully twist a variety of sushi rolls and curate a menu of traditional Thai dishes. The hot pepper and basil with beef or pork ($10.99) and Siam tofu ($14.99) are both doused in house-made chili sauce, which warms tongues with a gentle flame beneath the restaurant's potted bamboo and hanging art. The Fancy Duck dish ($18.99) arrives tableside with a posse of cashews and veggies while dinners admire dishes elegantly presented on indigo flatware, ornate wooden trays, and the backs of sleeping butlers. Cool glasses of Singha beer ($4.99 each) complement rolls from the sushi menu, such as the Dancing Dragon ($13.99), a duo of shrimp tempura and imitation crab that sashays among cucumber and scallions to a smattering of masago applause.
At Thai Sweet Basil, chefs shun frozen produce and MSG, instead championing fresh, all-natural ingredients for their menu of traditional Thai cuisine. They simmer five varieties of curries, serving them with fragrant mounds of jasmine rice, and fry up classic noodle dishes, such as pad thai and sweet-basil fried rice. They also plate delicacies such as soft-shell crab with green curry and snapper marinated in tamarind. All the recipes and cooking techniques that they use were developed over the centuries in the Thai royal palace. Servers weave between sunny walls and maroon booths bordering a dining room speckled with emerald fronds, exotic artwork, and linens as white and untarnished as a snowman's criminal record.
Thai cuisine doesn't favor any one portion of the tongue. By drawing on a full range of herbs and spices it strives to activate all five of the palate's taste senses in every meal. The result: colorful dishes such as tom yum goong, a spicy sour soup prepared with chili and lemongrass, and phad se-ew, a sweet and savory rice dish with a choice of meat glazed in soy sauce. Thai Thani, which is celebrating its 10th year in Tampa, embraces this wholeheartedly and adds its own creations to the Thai canon. The house specialty Thai Thani angel wings, for instance, stuff boneless chicken with pork, water chestnuts, clear noodles, mushrooms, and garlic.
The restaurant doesn't only embrace Thai culinary philosophy, either. It also transports its diners to a little slice of Thailand by filling its dining room with imported antiques and statues, hand-carved tables and tropical plants, and stamping the passport of everyone who enters.