July 26, 2006
Asian Flavors in Wainscott
It's clear that many East End restaurants have responded to diners who demand both sashimi and spring rolls under the same roof.
Phoenix in Wainscott, along with its newly refurbished interior, is doing the same with the addition of a sushi bar and an updated Chinese menu that boasts a few traditional Thai dishes thrown in for good measure.
A recent visit to the eatery proved that Phoenix has grabbed a hold of the Asian blend concept and succeeded. The interior of the restaurant is spare, like its uncluttered menu, but inviting: it's a casual place and a great dining spot for families with kids. Jamie, Phoenix's energetic and charming manager, made our toddler feel right at home with a homemade toy fashioned from a pair of chopsticks.
We started the meal with an appetizer portion of fantastic crunchy and crispy shrimp rolls that were stuffed with shrimp and chicken and came sided with a delicious sweet Thai chili sauce for dipping. For libations, we chose an iced-down carafe of Suijin sake. Many Japanese restaurants serve their sake hot, but the Suijin was at its best chilled. With just a hint of green grass and a mellow dryness, the drink scored high points with the sake lovers at our table. A premium sake list was packed with other rice wine choices like Shoin and Kaori.
Back to the food.
One of Phoenix's standout dishes was the super-fresh dish tuna tartare, a layering of sushi-grade tuna and avocado (avocado and tuna just work together) all served on a bed of pickled seaweed and spicy mayonnaise. We also tried the chicken satay appetizer that was marinated in a sweet teriyaki-like sauce. We loved the refreshing cool dish of Kani salad, a julienned concoction of crab, tobiko and cucumber. Soups were Chinese standard: wonton, egg drop, hot and sour and Miso were offered. A favorite was the restaurant's excellent and savory asparagus-crabmeat soup.
Craving lobster? The chef will prepare a 1 1/4 pound lobster "any style" sided with a choice of rice. Another winner was the spicy tuna "sandwich," a variation on traditional rolled Maki. Studded with sesame seeds on seasoned rice, the piquant little triangles disappeared in minutes. Continuing with the Japanese theme, we sampled an excellent fried oyster roll that was stuffed with cucumber, avocado, tobiko and scallion. Also not to be missed: a sublime dish of crispy flank steak that was bathed in a sweet and spicy sauce and accompanied by assorted Chinese veggies like snowpeas, red peppers and baby corn. The beef's coating was crispy — indeed it was nearly crunchy — but exhibited an appropriate tenderness within. A bowl of garlicky sautéed baby bok choy completed the entrée.
Other main course recommendations: Phoenix's Hunan prawns and beef, salt and pepper shrimp, and Hawaii crispy shrimp.
For dessert we shared a plate of very good fried ice cream although the small child at our table took first dibs on the strawberries and whipped cream that topped it!
Phoenix does a good job of spanning the three cuisines: Japanese, Chinese and Thai. It seems there's something to please just about everyone here.
Phoenix Chinese Restaurant and Sushi Bar
352 Montauk Hwy-Wainscott Village Center
Serving lunch and dinner daily