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Michael McElroy

Soi Asian Bistro

Michael McElroy
The cuisine at this spry little 30-seater, a spin-off of Mr. Yum on Calle Ocho, is informed by Japan (sushi, sashimi, edamame); Thailand (tom yum goong and tom ka kai soups, curries, noodles, stir-fries); and Peru (ceviches, tiraditos). There are sixty-plus items to choose from, although a third are sushi-related rolls and such. Going from soup to nuts: Tom yum goong is a light, tart lemon grass broth underlined with lime juice and bearing two crisp jumbo shrimp that barely fit in the bowl. Ceviche de mariscos is a marinated medley of thinly sliced yellowtail, shrimp, and conch shimmering with cilantro and lime that comes with warm, colossal choclo kernels on the side. Sushi rolls play to the crowd (tuna rolls, California roll, etc.). Thai food takes over the entree page by way of noodles, curries, and fried rice variations mostly based on a choice of shrimp, chicken, or beef. Chicken with ginger sauce is clean and fresh; Pad Thai is the standard rice noodle, egg, peanut, sprout rendition (but as happens too often in restaurants, the sauce leans too heavily towards sweet). The highlight of our visits was the beef massaman curry, a peerlessly rich preparation with meltingly soft meat melding with cashews and tender lumps of potato in a luscious coconut-based curry sauce redolent of cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves. It comes with a wedge of ripe avocado fanned across the top, and a bowl of steamed white rice on the side. The nuts: peanuts, sprinkled on top of a cup of condensed milk, alongside cleanly fried Thai donuts (really little round donut holes). That dessert hit the spot - good thing, too, as it was the only one available. You might catch mochi ice cream or chocolate cake on other nights, if you're lucky. But even with this newcomer's kinks and quirks, downtowners are lucky to have Soi Asian Bistro sauce up the neighborhood with fresh, sunny, and affordable fare.