Having lived around the world, Asian cuisine is always a "go to" for me. Of the Asain styles, Thai food represents one of the most unique balances of spice, sweet, salt and citrus. Add to that, texture and new flavor combinations and you have a healthy, social, fun and unique opportunity to try something different. Panasaia does not disappoint.
This restaurant shares popular styles from China, Thailand, Japan and the Philippines, and does it authentically, but with a twist that keeps Americans satisfied (in Asia, the range from salty to sweet (seafood to fruit) is narrower than in the US...it can be experienced as bland if there are not subtle adjustments for what we are used to.
My wife and I went at 5:45 on a Friday night and were immediately met, seated and welcomed. The staff is VERY friendly and never rushed. They were helpful with everyone and kept that vibe all night...even when it became quite busy. The restaurant is beautiful, modern, interesting and buzzing; great energy.
I ordered a small bottle of saki and my wife, a cucumber vodka with St Germain and basil (I believe). Both were great and priced within reason. As with most Asian restaurants, food comes out when it is prepared. It is shared, hot and very social. We ordered the papaya salad, lettuce wraps, steamed fish and pad Thai...and we ate nearly all of it.
Papaya salad: generally a spicy dish, this did not disappoint. The cool shaved papaya with sprouts, peanut "dusting" and fresh lime juice squeezed on it was a fun start. Yes, it's hot and spicy, however, the balance of citrus and fruit make this a new mouth experience for most.
Lettuce wraps: filling a chilled, fresh lettuce leaf with finely diced chicken, blended with citrus (lemon grass??), ginger, carrots, sprouts, on a bed of thin noodles, and wrapping up to eat with your hands is simply wonderful and engaging. The filling was perfect with the chicken/citrus taste balance. There was no need for the sweet/spicy Thai sauce as the fresh flavor popped on their own.
Steamed fish: PERFECTLY cooked Halibut with a simple side of white sticky rice. The very unassuming sauce was light unique and supported the delicate texture of the fish. Do not miss this.
Pad Thai: we included shrimp and once again, they were perfectly cooked with a citrus tone that was very complimentary to the noodles, cilantro, sprouts, carrots and other veggies. I splashed a small amount of soy sauce as I needed a bit more salt. We will order this again.
A few constructive comments: the noise level was between bustling and outright noisy. This was distracting as a conversation at dinner should not be a chore...we are relaxing and enjoying fantastic food, we'd like to talk about it too. The seating was tight...perhaps one less 2 top to create more space and flow.
We are very happy to not have another completely Americanized Asian restaurant and can't wait to explore this menu further.
Panasia is already making its mark and there is no question that with obvious focus on fresh ingredients, balance, service, atmosphere, creative approach and unique offerings, they are here to stay and won't be ignored.
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