Back in March Foodies on the Fly first visited SAIA at the sleek B Ocean Hotel in Fort Lauderdale. Since then, Chef Subin Chankesorn has added several new items to their menu and we were invited back to taste test.
Chef Subin’s unique culinary creations are a natural result of his exposure to Thai street market food in his earlier years and his travels throughout Southeast Asia and the Caribbean. Prior to SAIA, Chef Subin served as Assistant Sushi Chef at Delano on South Beach, Lead Sushi Chef at the Lowes Hotel South Beach, Chef aboard Royal Caribbean International’s fleet and Market Cook in Thailand. Chef Subin strives to achieve balance between authenticity and heritage in his dishes and the modern (American) conception of what Asian dining.
“When developing this concept I was committed to creating a unique dining experience, with fresh interpretations and crafting flavors that would redefine South Florida’s Asian dining scene. We’ve succeeded!” – Chef Subin
Upon meeting the magnetic Chef Subin, FOTF left the menu selection in his more than capable hands. Thus begins our journey…
The Green Bean Salad arrived first, served chilled with a black soy vinaigrette, sesame seeds, and dried garlic on top. The crisp, fresh green beans are a new addition, and we would gladly order them again as an alternative to our typical starter of edamame, which is also available.
The Tamari Scallop was beautifully plated; one large scallop wrapped in paper thin bigeye tuna, topped with minced crabmeat, and masago atop a pool of wasabi spiked aioli. The thin, silky smooth tuna barely encased the meaty scallop and crabmeat, and presented me with a small challenge: How to most delicately devour this large bite? Chopsticks gripped, I chose to bite and conquer (and hope that the whole masterpiece would not end up on my plate, or worse…). My strategy worked, somewhat, only a few bits of green tobiko caviar and crabmeat were sacrificed. I can see why the waitstaff heavily recommends this dish. We do as well.
The thinly sliced Hamachi Jalapeno arrived next, spiced with Thai chili, ponzu uzu, shredded daikon and cilantro arrived next. This light fish was full of flavor from the citrus-y marinade to the kick of the Thai Jalapeno chilies. The Hamachi was one of my favorite dishes of the evening.
The Miso Scallops, a customer favorite, are lime and salt encrusted, covered in a sweet honey miso sauce, and presented atop a Japanese yam. Topped with a dash of sesame seeds, and curl of scallion.
This dish also had me fumbling with my chopsticks (Disclaimer: I am no expert, as you may have deduced) as the slick glaze had them slipping through my grasp. Laughing as yet again the scallop eluded me, I admitted defeat and requested silverware. Quartered by my newly acquired knife and securely speared by fork, the perfect bite of sweet, sticky miso scallop made it into my mouth. The lime and salt perfectly balance out the sweetness of the miso glaze, which is so delicious, I could cover everything in it. As I was savoring my first bites of scallop #1, scallops #2 and #3 have disappereaed. Definitely a favorite of my dining companion of the evening, and newest addition to the FOTF team, my BF “M”.
I did not have long to lament the loss of a possible shared scallop, as we were quickly presented with my favorite plate of the evening. The Shirome Spice, a crispy, lightly battered whitefish with a sweet and spicy garlic glaze and stir-fried mixture of onions, red, yellow and green bell peppers, and shitake mushrooms. The stir-fried vegetables were slightly al dente and added texture to the flaky fish and meaty shitakes.
Next we were presented with not one, but two massive sushi rolls, the Tropical Roll and the Fire Dragon Roll. These two inside out creations push sushi lovers to the edge and have gained quite a following due to their unique flavor pairings. The Tropical Roll includes seared scallop, mushroom, shiso, cucumber, and spicy miso topped with salmon and mango. Our favorite, the Fire Dragon Roll starts with lightly fried shrimp tempura, wrapped in avocado, snow crab, and topped with spicy tuna and masago.
Another new addition to the SAIA menu are the Mongolian Barbeque Lamb Lollipops. M wanted to test out his review skills and adds: An unusual presence in an Asian restaurant’s menu, this item has been added in response to customers request to increase meat dish variety. But don’t let the oriental atmosphere fool you; this dish’s level of taste, tenderness and presentation is at least similar to what you would expect from any fancy steakhouse. With another signature twist from the Chef, the sweet and tangy sauce on the side is a surprisingly delicious variation over the traditional red wine, rosemary or mint.
Note: These lollipops were sourced from farm raised lamb in New Zealand.
On a roll, M reviews the Thai Curry Lobster as well: I’ve been eating Thai red curries for years from many places of the world and thought I had tried it all. Yet Subin Chankesorn managed to create a masterpiece lobster red curry with a garlic rich mixture of pineapple, hearts of palm, green peppers, baby tomatoes and a delicious white sauce. Definitely a must try for curry lovers.
Here I will add that Chef Chankeson joined us for the last of our courses. We spoke about his childhood growing up in the Thailand, the different dialects and how one word could mean something very different in varying regions (floor mat -vs- tiger!) and finally we spoke about curry. Chef explained to us how he starting making curries under the guidance of his mother. He doesn’t follow a set recipe, yet adds and detracts based on taste of his ingredients of the day, striving to incorporate authentic Thai ingredients and spices. He adds, If you use a recipe it will be different every time based on the sweetness or tartness of the ingredients, so follow your sense of taste not direction.
Our final plate was a taste of Chef Subin’s home, literally. He picked the starfruit from his backyard that morning and now it adorns our plate alongside a chocolate mini macaroon, strawberry, and mochi ice cream in a fruity yogurt sauce. Chef explained to us that he is not a fan of overly sweet desserts and this plate demonstrated a light hand as well. A perfectly sweet ending to a remarkable meal.
Foodies on the Fly highly recommends stopping by and, if you’re feeling adventurous, allowing Chef Subin to order for you as well. The staff is very accomodating and will take note of any allergies or preferences as well.
We thank-you for your time if you’ve completed reading to this point. It was an extensive meal (over 3hrs!) and review as well.
B Ocean Ft. Lauderdale- SAIA
999 Fort Lauderdale Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale, FL