Hamachi Thai & Sushi Restaurant

10288 West Sample Rd
Coral Springs, FL 33065



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February 23rd, 2012

First impression: What sweetens any visit here is chef/owner Anny Hongnopkhun, former co-owner and head chef at Jasmine Thai in Margate, who amplifies the experience with her exuberant charm. Guaranteed you'll feel more like you're enjoying a meal in her home rather than a restaurant. The kitchen succeeds in making sure everything sparkles with freshness and flavor.

Ambience: The inviting six-stool sushi bar is a cozy addendum to this quietly attractive little gem with plenty of Thai adornments and a large dining room dolled up with brocade turquoise linens under glass at every table.

Starters: For the fish-phobic, or a detour from the usual, Anny's fruit roll ($10.95) tucks bite-size fresh pineapple, oranges, strawberries, kiwi and avocado into seaweed wrapped in rice. Drape each slice in pickled ginger and dip it in soy sauce blended with wasabi. What contrast! Anything with noodles calls my name, so the slippery house-made steamed dumplings at $4.95 thrilled me with nice supple dough. The tasty packages, adrift on light ginger sauce, are pinched at the top to secure a ground chicken/shrimp filling. You can be sure Anny will let you know when her delicious wahoo salad ($8.95) is on the menu. The recipe calls for barely seared chunks of pristine wahoo tossed with long carrot curls, cucumbers and crunchy tempura flakes with an invisible but zippy dressing animated by chilies, but mellowed by sesame oil.

Entree excellence: I love it when I can smell the richness of good pad Thai the minute the dish is set down. This famously comforting rice noodle concoction is alive with flavor, thanks to a nicely balanced mahogany-hued sauce that sticks to the tangle of rice noodles. It's $13.95 with chicken or pork; $14.95 with beef or seafood. Curry pastes are house-made and wonderfully complex. Wild curry, ($14.95-$16.95 depending on your choice of protein), pairs the luscious sauce with red bell peppers, fresh green beans, peas, basil and lemon leaves, but no coconut milk — a nice change from the norm. Another of my favorites here is anything done in deep brown ginger sauce fragrant with fresh ginger, peppers, wisps of onions and shiitakes ($13.95-$15.95).

Service: Being attended to by Anny is a breath of fresh air in a sea of Asian competition. Even if her staff waits on you, she's usually table side to make sure you get the scoop on specials.

Sweet!: Western taste buds will probably gravitate to the ubiquitous fried ice cream or Thai doughnuts, but authentic palates will like sticky rice ($4.95). The sweet rice is compacted into neat little bundles with fermented black beans for an occasional piquant spark, wrapped in banana leaves, steamed and served warm.

— Judith Stocks

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