Review: Home Thai Sushi Bar offers great food, great prices

Home Thai Sushi Bar

Where: 3300 Bonita Beach Road, Suite 101, Bonita Springs; 948-4663; www.homethaisushibar.com

Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Cuisine: Thai and Japanese

Beverages: Wine, beer and sake

Atmosphere: Casually refined, the dining room has a modern, upbeat vibe to it

Prices: Appetizers and lunches mostly under $10, entrees and dinners mostly less than $20

Recommended dishes: Thai beef salad ($9.95), kake udon ($9.95), salmon volcano ($19.95)

Verdict: Home Thai Sushi Bar is a great new addition to the dining scene in south Bonita, offering great Asian food at affordable prices

Home Thai Sushi bar’s location isn’t a lucky one — Alberto’s Trevi and Memories Deli are just two of the businesses that didn’t make it at the same Bonita Beach Road address. However, the new owners have done a great job redecorating the dining room, erasing all signs of past failures. A bright red wall, dark wooden Asian-inspired furniture and a brand new sushi bar that seats eight set a casually refined atmosphere in the dining room, while fresh ingredients and authentic recipes have made this locally owned spot the talk of the town (Bonita Springs, that is) pretty much since the day it opened.

A large part of what that makes this little restaurant a great candidate for both lunch and dinner is the number of options on the menu. From Thai and Japanese appetizers (hot and cold), to Thai and Japanese entrees and specialties, and from lunch specials to a large sushi selection, the menu includes so many selections it takes a while to go through all of them, but it’s well worth doing so

Another factor that makes Home Thai Sushi Bar a good option is its affordability, especially during lunch, when all Thai and most Japanese specialties are priced at less than $10. Among the spread of appetizers and salads there are two in particular we enjoyed: the spicy beef salad ($9.95) and the spicy conch ($7.95).

The beef salad is a typical Thai appetizer of thin slices of grilled beef, shaved cucumber, tomatoes, onions, scallions and cilantro tossed in a chili lemon dressing and served with lettuce. The beef, cooked to medium-rare perfection, is juicy and tender and the crunchiness of the vegetables offer a pleasant alternative to the buttery meat. What makes it great, however, is the spicy and tangy dressing that offers hints of lemongrass and pungent chili.

The spicy conch, too, is a worthy option, although not as traditional as the beef salad. Similar to a Bahamian ceviche, this starter features thinly sliced conch and julienned cucumber dressed with kimchee — pickled cabbage — sauce, scallion and sesame seed. The combination of flavors is so unique and so pleasantly intense, I find myself happily munching on the cucumber matchsticks although I’m usually not a big fan of the vegetable.

If you are looking for something with milder flavor, the wonton soup ($4.25) is one of the best I’ve had. The addition of fried garlic to the chicken broth gives it a whole new dimension.

Entrees, too, range from solid to extremely well prepared. It has been awhile now since I’ve set out in search of the perfect bowl of kake udon, a Japanese soup featuring a rich and fragrant tempura broth, chewy udon noodles and mixed vegetables. Home Thai Sushi Bar’s rendition ($9.95) left me absolutely smitten: the broth alone is so tasty it makes the whole dish worth trying.

A nice array of lightly cooked vegetables — carrots, onions, mushrooms, snow peas, broccoli, cauliflower — top off an abundance of soft noodles and make the soup both comforting and vibrant with healthy greens.

Among the Thai favorites, the basil sauce (available with a choice of choice of tofu or mixed vegetables for $11.95; chicken, pork or beef, $12.95; and shrimp, $14.95) always ranks high on my list and Home Thai’s version was no different. Loaded with Thai basil for sweetness and fiery birds-eye chiles for spiciness, the sauce is especially good over chicken and vegetables and can be ordered st five different degrees of hotness: from mild to “Thai hot.”

Similar but also worth a try is Pad Prik Khing (choice of tofu or mixed vegetables $11.95; chicken, pork or beef $12.95 and shrimp $14.95) which pairs up the same chili paste present in the basil sauce with kaffir lime leaves with a result that is mildly citrusy and tangy.

Home Thai Sushi Bar also offers dishes that are more inventive than the usual array of pad tahis and tom yum soups. The salmon volcano ($19.95) is a perfect example; a grilled fillet of salmon is topped with a sweet and sour chili sauce and served on a bed of steamed vegetables — tasty and healthy. Thai curries in all its varieties — red, green, Panang, Massaman — and sushi are also well prepared and the latter is especially enjoyable at the small bar, where most return customers like to hang out, chatting with the sushi chefs.

Regardless of what you order make sure to check out the very reasonably priced wine and beer list. Chang is an excellent choice if you want to wash down your meal with a Thai brew.

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