By Gary Nager
When Niyom (it’s pronounced sort of like “Neil”) and his wife Pansri Nitayangkul first opened SukhoThai Restaurant & Sushi Bar across Highwoods Preserve Pkwy. from the Muvico theaters in New Tampa seven years ago, I had heard of the very successful original SukhoThai on N. Dale Mabry in Carrollwood, but had never eaten there. I wasn’t yet a huge fan of Thai cuisine, so I wasn’t going to go out of my way to sample it.
But, hen SukhoThai’s New Tampa location opened, I became an instant fan — as have many of our readers — of our area’s only Thai restaurant that also served great sushi.
So, whether you’re looking for shoes-off dining, amazing sushi, like SukhoThai’s fresh tilapia sashimi or my new favorite sushi roll (thanks to graphic artist Porsha Lemos ordering it on our office’s most recent visit), the spicy eel-and-octopus Monster Roll (which has a delicious coating of crispy tempura flakes), or authentic Thai dishes like ped palo (crispy duck with mixed veggies and ginger soy sauce), SukhoThai has got you covered with flavorful food that also is always beautifully presented.
Part of the reason I was never a big Thai fan is that most of the suggestions I got from other people were either for the traditional pad Thai noodle dish or entrées featuring heavy doses of curry — and I have never been a big fan of either, even though my friends who love Thai food will often judge a restaurant by these signature dishes. On the other hand, there isn’t a single item in the pictures on these pages that I don’t love at SukhoThai. The sushi is always fresh, the veggies are always crisp and the meat dishes are always top-notch.
For starters, in addition to the wonderfully fresh sushi, I love SukhoThai’s pan-fried pork and veggie dumplings and their spring rolls are the crispiest, flakiest and lightest in town. I even love SukhoThai’s extra-crisp chicken wings and marinated chicken on skewers.
My favorite main dishes are still the teriyaki grilled steak, which is served with fresh broccoli, cauliflower and carrots and served with a splash of wasabi cream sauce (I always have to order extra sauce, because it’s amazing!), the aforementioned ped palo (all of the duck dishes rock) and my new favorite is the SukhoThai chicken, which is marinated, sliced chicken in a three-spice sauce that offers both a little sweetness and a kick.
All of these entrées taste even better with an order of the Thai fried rice. There is also a spicy Thai fried rice, but I prefer the pork and chicken combo regular fried rice as the “base” for my other entrées.
Other entrées I can recommend at SukhoThai include the chicken ginger (stir-fried with bell peppers and onions), the chicken garlic (stir-fried with cabbage), the Hoisin beef (marinated beef with garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes with cashews and veggies), the Korean pork (marinated in hot pepper and garlic sauce).
Many of the seafood dishes at SukhoThai feature shrimp, which I’m sadly allergic to, but I do love both fried whole red snapper entrées on the menu, as well as the super, but spicy, volcano lobster. And of course, I always have to enjoy an ice cold Chang or Singha beer, both of which are imported from Thailand and delicious. I also love the Thai beignets and other decadent homemade desserts.
SukhoThai New Tampa is located at 18101 Highwoods Preserve Pkwy. It is open seven days a week for dinner and Monday-Friday for lunch at 11 a.m. For more info, call 615-2345 or visit SukhoThaiRestaurant.net