The Thai, Vietnamese and Laotian restaurant located on South Tamiami Trail
In my first Vegging Out column, I talked about how vegetarians and vegans are often reliant on their local Asian restaurants. But even by those standards, Sarasota’s Taste of Asia is particularly accommodating to non-meat eaters.
As its name suggests, the restaurant offers a culinary sampling of Asia through Thai, Vietnamese and Laotian cuisine. The restaurante got its start in downtown Sarasota, then moved to Siesta Key, and is now a fairly quick jaunt from either, at 4413 S. Tamiami Trail.
Taste of Asia’s menu offers several dishes that are vegan and vegetarian or can be prepared so. It even advertises that it’s vegan-friendly on its front sign.
I order the cauliflower fried rice ($11.50 with tofu or mixed vegetables, $13.50 for both), which is cauliflower diced, fried and served with sauteed onions and broccoli. And if you think of cauliflower primarily as a veggie tray item, you’d be surprised at how ably it replicates the original dish, particularly when accompanied with fried tofu, which I had.
I also get the Pad Thai ($11.50-$13.50), the popular stir-fry meal of rice noodles, egg, bean sprouts, scallions and ground peanuts. (Fish sauce can be omitted for strict vegetarians, as can the egg for vegans.) Taste of Asia’s version of the dish is particularly sauce-centric and goes well with the crispy, bite-sized blocks of fried tofu.
And though I was intrigued by their veggie roll dishes, I decide not to test my stomach with a third entree in one sitting and order an appetizer-size version of two fresh rolls with tofu and a peanut dip ($4.50, with a $4 crispy roll with sweet-and-sour sauce option). Blending mint, lettuce, bean sprouts, rice vermicelli and fresh tofu, it does indeed taste pretty refreshing.
There are plenty of meat dishes as well, and with many entrees priced at $11.50 — which is less expensive than many Sarasota-Manatee restaurants’ lunches, let alone dinners — Taste of Asia offers a good deal for anyone. But non-meat eaters in particular should make sure to visit, thanks to the variety of vegan dishes and options on its menu.
Have other suggestions of Sarasota-Manatee restaurants with tasty vegetarian dishes? Email me at email@example.com.