7581 University Blvd., Winter Park | 407-960-3815 | thaitanicsushi.com | $$
Thaitanic Sushi may upset the apple carts of some pun-happy headline writers, but for the rest of the food-loving public, the Winter Park Thai food-and-sushi joint offers no such frustrations. This comfortable eatery, run by the Laotian owners who once operated Bangkok Square a few blocks down on Alafaya Trail, is quickly becoming a go-to dining option in this diverse neighborhood.
I’m not the biggest fan of dual-purpose restaurants, be they Thai/sushi or French/Italian, but I understand their raison d’être and, in the case of Thaitanic, there was something molto simpatico about the place. It could’ve been our receptive Chinese waitress, or it might’ve been the koi-decorated walls, but Thaitanic’s relaxed, easygoing vibe is undeniable. I suppose the same might’ve been said about the Titanic before it hit an iceberg, but thankfully for us, the only glacial aspect of the evening was taking our sweet time poring over the vast menu.
Our server suggested starting the proceedings with the Thunderball roll ($12.95), and while the spicy mayo didn’t grow any hair on my chest à la Sean Connery in that film, the lightly tempura-fried roll of tuna, salmon, krab, avocado and cream cheese won over even the sashimi/nigiri purists at my table. The subtle crunch and mix of flavors was met with collective thumbs up, and the same was true of the tom yum goong soup ($5.95), with its fiery broth, heady lemongrass essence and vegetable medley. Enjoying the soup with crispy spring rolls ($3.50) had us reaching cruising speed even before our entrees arrived. (Speaking of soup, our server noted that if we were ever interested in pho, they’d gladly whip up a bowl without hesitation.)
Of the entrees we ordered, the zesty and noodle-heavy plate of pad thai ($9.95) was a well-favored choice, but it was the panang curry ($10.95), and its glorious coconut sauce, that won: Every last drop of that silky, milky nectar was spooned, sopped or licked from the plate. If there was a choppy moment during our meal, it came at the expense of the mango fried rice with beef ($12.95). We couldn’t really see, let alone taste, any mango in the dish. If it had been presented as plain ol’ beef fried rice, it would deserve top marks. For the moment, our mango craving went unsatisfied – which necessitated an order of mango sticky rice ($6.95).
Now, the only complaint we had with this simple dessert was that there wasn’t more of it. The rice was perfectly cooked, the mango perfectly ripe, the syrup perfectly sweet. Thaitanic’s rendition of this Siamese classic has to be one of the best in the city, and as the only dessert made in house, it put the pedestrian red velvet cake ($6.95) to shame. We regretted not ordering two plates of the mango sticky rice instead and, indeed, I find myself craving the dish as I write this. If anything, it gives us a reason to return, which is saying a lot given the glut of Thai and Thai/sushi restaurants in town. Considering the service, comfortability and caliber of dishes at Thaitanic, we’re not about to give up the ship.