The Asian street food trend has expanded quite a bit. Thanks, Hawkers! Mamak, which like Hawkers is in the Mills 50 district, has made new fans. Now, Rasa Asian Street Food brings the concept to Restaurant Row.
Rasa is the latest project of Sunny Corda, who also owns the estimable Mynt in Winter Park and Saffron Indian restaurant a couple of doors from Rasa.
Corda, who invited me on one of my two visits, said he spent two months in Malaysia researching some of the dishes he serves at Rasa.
It was worth the time to come up with a dish like the Curry Laksha (also laksa). It was a bounty in a small bowl with a multilayered broth of chicken and coconut milk, tinged with sweetness and spice, the latter provided by myriad chilies. A hard-boiled egg floated on one side while several shrimp clustered on another with bits of chicken here and there. And submerged beneath it all was a stack of delicate vermicelli noodles. The the spoon in my left hand and chopsticks in my right, I found myself unable to stop. Delicious.
Kimchi Fried Rice was another favorite, the spicy fermented bok choy mixed in with rice, chicken and egg.
Singapore Street Noodles had long strands of thick, round noodles tossed with curry spicing with chopped bits of chicken and shrimp, decorated with scallions and accompanied with a lime wedge to squeeze at will to add a touch of acidity.
Siu Mai Dumplings were densely packed with chopped chicken. And Curry Meatballs had just enough spiciness to move them from the Mediterranean Sea to the Gulf of Thailand.
Roti Canai, a Malaysian bread similar to Indian naan but flatter and crispier, served nicely just torn and dipped in the curry sauce or as a conveyor for any of the other dishes.
Rasa occupies the space that was previously Le Rouge, and some rougey notes still remain especially in lighting accents under the bar counter and the shelves of the back bar. Light stick sculptures, globe-burst light fixtures and stacked stone wall add stylish design touches. There’s a curious array of copper tubing on a concrete wall that I’m guessing is to indicate some sort of urbanity.
The staff of the new restaurant don’t seem quite comfortable in their roles yet. Dishes, which come from the kitchen at a steady pace, served when ready in the style of a tapas restaurant, were placed unceremoniously on the table, unannounced. many of the dishes served will be new to some guests. The servers have an opportunity to inform, and to show a little pride in what they’re serving.
Which they should. The name, by the way, means flavor, or sauce, or gravy, depending on which country you're visiting. Here is can mean all three.
Rasa Asian Street Food is at 7730 E. Sand Lake Road, Orlando (next to Cedar’s and close to Roy’s). It is open for lunch Monday through Friday and for dinner daily. The phone number is 407-930-0402