Exotic Cuisine in a Modern Setting - Two Worlds Become One at Tee-Jay's
These days more doors seem to be closing than opening and I'm not at all surprised by the number of vacancies around town. So when Tee-Jay's decided to open their newest establishment here in the heart of Wilton Manors, I was very happy.
Yeah, yeah I know... another Asian restaurant on "The Drive?" Well, with that type of skepticism, I knew I was going to have to dig a little deeper and find out what gives Tee-Jay's an advantage over the competition.
There are two dominant cuisines, Thai and Japanese. Toss in a dash of Chinese, serve with a heaping helping of modern, add a soothing dollop of purple and you get Tee-Jay's. The dim lighting and charcoal gray flooring allows their white padded chairs and booths and bright yellow cushions to pop with color. The glass jellyfish lamps suspended in air over the sushi bar add even more drama, as well as some special wall-lighting that will pleasantly surprise you with its subtle changes. I especially love the Japanese Tatami tables. If you request one, I suggest you take your shoes off, order some warm sake or your favorite ice cold Asian beer, pick out that perfect sushi roll and get into the moment.
Now, it's time for me to unfold my napkin and unwrap those chopsticks. Between the aroma of fragrant Thai spices and innovative sushi presentations, I'm getting hungry! The food is fresh and imaginative, especially the sushi which includes many of their own creations that you won't find anywhere else. You can order their freshly prepared sushi in a tower, on a boat, as a Spicy Queen (!) -- or even on a plate the old-fashioned way as with their Lobster Wrap or Volcano. We opted for the Kobi Roll: Thin slices of tuna sashimi, fried, wrapped in seaweed, sprinkled with tempura flakes, flavored with spicy mayo and wasabi cream and finished with masago. If you're hungry or it's been awhile since you've had your sushi fix, I suggest Tee-Jay's Boat for 1-4 people. For a party of four it includes one each of a Spicy Tuna, California, Bagel, and Futomaki Roll plus 20 pieces of Sushi and 24 pieces of Sashimi. (It's the perfect choice for a frequent cruiser.) If you are a land lover, you could try their Tuna Tower: Chopped tuna, kimchee sauce, scallions and wasabi tobiko with crispy tortilla chips. Either of these will easily satisfy your sushi cravings.
Not into sushi? Then try one of Tee-Jay's Favorites. We ordered the Seafood Combo that was brought to the table wrapped in aluminum foil. It was promptly opened by our waiter to reveal a generous portion of scallops, shrimp, mussels, tilapia, and squid--all of it still simmering in a light steamy broth, with fresh ginger, black pepper, and celery.
Curries are a staple in kitchens all over Thailand, so I think it's wonderful that Tee-Jay's offers their patrons so many choices that range from classic Red, traditional Green, thick Panang to famous Masaman Curry from southern Thailand with influences from Malaysia. You can order any of these "Super Bowls" of curry with your choice of vegetables, beef, duck, chicken, seafood, or fish. We ordered the Masaman with beef that included potatoes, onions, avocado, peanuts, and grape tomatoes. This curry was less spicy than the others and had a slightly sweeter taste along with the tropical flavor of coconut milk.
I'm sure that everyone who goes to a Thai restaurant has their favorite noodle and/or rice dish and I'm no different. But to expand my culinary horizons (and yours), I wanted to try something really different. So when I came across Nad La on the menu (with gravy and seafood all in the same dish) because it piqued my interest! I had to ask our wonderful waiter "Russ" what kind of gravy this could be on a Thai menu? It turned out to be a brown gravy from pan-drippings. I wasn't sure what to think about this dish, but I went ahead and ordered it anyway. When the plate arrived, I remember thinking that there was more than a mere splash of gravy here. To my surprise, the texture of the seafood along with the wide pan-fried rice noodles swimming in a sea of brown gravy was actually pretty tasty. It wasn't my favorite, but it was worth it to try something new.
For dessert they offer the typical green tea ice cream, as well as unusual choices like Thai Doughnut, Cheesecake or Ice Cream (both served Tempura-style), and "FBI" (Fried Banana with Ice cream).
But ultimately, what stands out most for me (and I think you will agree), is the ambiance, original sushi recipes, and friendly staff. So come on in and check them out. Owners "Tee" & Jay and Tanya, along with the rest of the staff, want to make sure you have a wonderful experience here at Tee-Jay's. I did. Welcome to the neighborhood!
By HotSpots Magazine