We’re lucky living here. For a lot of the obvious reasons. Great beaches, vibrant cultural scene, and beautiful weather. One that may not be so obvious is there is a lot of pretty great Asian cuisine here in Sarasota. On the dineSarasota.com website we list thirty three places! That’s a whole bunch for an area this size.
Like with anything else, there are some standouts. At Taste of Asia, Selina and Lam Lum have been serving fantastic Laotian, Vietnamese, and Thai food for as long as I can remember. It’s actually been since 2005. That's quite a while in restaurant years.
First in a storefront on Main Street. Then a move to a cozy corner space on Siesta Key (an almost every Friday night dinner for me). Then finally to their current home on South Tamiami Trail.
Now the Lums are passing the torch and their culinary traditions on to their daughter, Nikki Lum-Kleiber and her husband David. The restaurant has undergone a facelift and so has the menu. The name may be changing, but one thing isn’t, the fantastic Asian cuisine that they serve.
On December 1st, Stiks (4413 S. Tamiami Trl., (941) 923-2742) opened their doors and began a new chapter in the Lum family story. Nikki Lum-Kleiber has been in and around the family business for a lot of her life. That kind of experience will come in handy now that Nikki and David have taken the reigns from Selina and Lam.
What is Stiks? Saying that this is “Fast Casual” Asian cuisine isn’t giving it enough due. Yes, it’s fast and yes, it’s casual. But it is so much more than that. You basically have all the elements of a traditional Asian food experience spun up in a quick service style. There are no cutting corners when it comes to the quality of the dishes they’re serving at Stiks. The food is the exact same quality and deliciousness that you expect from a Lum kitchen!
The inside has a crisp, fresh look. It fits right in with the concept they’re shooting for. It’s not hard to imagine this dining room filling up fast at mealtime. There’s no table service, but the ordering process is super simple. Order at the counter, then pick up at the window, and choose a seating type the suits your mood. Either high top, low top, or even outdoors! All of this is perfect for folks that like a little less formal approach to their dining experience.
Now what you’re really here for, the food.
This is where Stiks really shines. They have the curries and the apps that you would expect. The crispy veggie rolls are great. They feature both a beef and a vegan pho. The real star of the noodle soups is a dish that Nikki’s Aunt Nom brings to the menu, The Lao curry noodle soup! It’s spicy, warming, delicious and hearty, all at the same time. The noodles are silky and very slurpable. Personalize your soup with any of the eight noodle add ins. These range from simple ingredients like chicken and pork to more exotic choices, think seasoned jack fruit. All this makes for a dish that even the most upscale Asian restaurants would be proud to serve.
Yes, don’t worry, they still have their famous pad Thai. You didn’t really think they’d drop that. Did you? (You can also still get the cauliflower rice, which is a personal favorite of mine). You can have a boba tea here. Order either the regular style or a vegan version. The menu price points make it so you won’t need a loan to feed your family. Noodle soups for $9, and $4 for five rangoons. Those are both pretty great deals.
So where does all of this leave us? Yes, we’re sad that Taste of Asia is no longer around. And we wish Selina and Lam a great “retirement”. At the same time, we’re delighted that Stiks will be building on a great Asian cuisine legacy here in Sarasota!
Here are a few links that we think you might find helpful.
We want to keep you up to date on everything that’s happening around town. Here are some Sarasota food (and non-food) events that you may be interested in…
Can’t get enough of dineSarasota and Sarasota Bites??