Day of the week: Sunday, 6/16
Estimate of bill*: $18.05 (before tax & tip)
Verdict: We ate it again the next night if that tells you anything.
Carlos of Carlos Eats invited us to join him at Sate Southeast Asian Grill near USF for a meal. We had never been there but the restaurant sounded tasty (we love Asian food) and I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to finally meet Carlos.
Sate is on Fowler in the same plaza as Sweetbay and Chili’s, between the mall and Bruce B. Downs. Sate is kind of an Asian Chipotle: you pick your base (rice, noodles, salad, baguette), protein, toppings, and sauce. Sate also serves spring rolls, soups, a couple of desserts, and Thai iced coffee and tea. I like that they have sides/snacks in addition to the practically endless choices for entrees. Sate offers free wi-fi and USF students get a 10% discount.
We arrived before Carlos. Brennan was the first person to greet us and he started acquainting us with the menu and letting us try little samples. He thought we were just two newbies walking in off the street and he was so friendly and helpful. I decided to get the traditional banh mi (I think it’s $5.45 – the price isn’t online), a tom kha soup with chicken ($2.45), and a Thai iced coffee ($2). Hubby got a rice bowl that seemed very complicated, so I’ll let him tell you what all was in it.
We sat down at a large table for four and attacked our food. I don’t usually eat the traditional banh mi with the pork pâté and all that jazz but my sandwich was really good. The pork was tender (not chewy like other places I’ve tried it) and the pâté had a mild flavor. The bread was very fresh, as were all my toppings. My tom kha was good and a large enough portion to be a light meal. My Thai iced coffee was tasty, and also a very good deal at $2. (Most Thai restaurants give you a pretty small glass for that price but this was a big cup, probably 16 ounces.)
Bottom line, the food at Sate is delicious AND a good deal, especially if you’re in the area anyway.
Postscript: We both enjoyed our food so much we returned the next night. I got rice with grilled chicken (a little spicy!), Vietnamese pickles, Thai cucumber, bean sprouts, mixed peppers and onions, BBQ glaze, crushed peanuts, roasted sesame seeds, and crispy onions. And I ate it ALL. It was awesome.
Let me start off by saying this is the best idea for a restaurant I have seen in a long time!!! Like a Chipotle but with amazingly fresh Asian food!
So we get there and you can pick as your base noodles, jasmine rice, a sandwich, or a salad. I got the vermicelli noodles, which are fresh steamed. They rock, too. I topped it with a bunch of different stuff because I wanted to try it all. I got grilled chicken, pulled pork, roasted pork, and tofu.
The grilled chicken was freshly sliced from the breast. A nice spice to it but not too hot. Super juicy and tender.
The roast pork was 2 inch pieces of brown pork with that red outer area, delicious. Tender yet firm, almost sweet, with a great texture.
The pulled pork was amazing too. Shredded up nicely, super juicy, salty, texture was perfect, with just a hint of fat on it for extra flavor.
The tofu was marinated in black bean sauce and was awesome. Very firm, excellent flavor, one of the best tofus that have been prepared for me ever.
To top it off there is a ton of stuff, but I got daikon radish and carrots, which were sweet and very crisp. I also got spouts – very earthy and delicious, also crisp and fresh. Then lots of peanuts and fried onions. For a sauce I got the BBQ glaze, which is similar to a teriyaki. The sauce was salty, but not overly so. It added a great spice to the dish and really completed it.
This place was so damn good, I went there the next night and got us more. Way more.
I got the rice with pork and chicken, a sandwich with roast pork and pulled pork, and noodles with chicken and tofu, all topped with daikon radish, carrots, peanuts, fried onion, and sprouts.
I got four sauces, too. The peanut sauce was delightful, great on everything! The garlic and black pepper was also awesome, though not much garlic came through in the sauce. The panang curry was great, with a fabulous blend of seasonings and a good texture to it. And I got the BBQ glaze again. Which rocks.
I’m writing this as I am getting ready to go there again tonight to get dinner for us. I’m telling you that you have to try it. It just rocks!
*This meal was provided to us in exchange for this review. The content of the review is our own.