Five Courses: Downtown St. Pete sees the opening of Asie and more

A quick update on the local food and drink scene.

click to enlarge The younger sibling of La V, downtown St. Pete's Asie focuses on elegant pan-Asian dishes and sushi. - Meaghan Habuda
Meaghan Habuda
The younger sibling of La V, downtown St. Pete's Asie focuses on elegant pan-Asian dishes and sushi.

Local restaurateur Thuy Le’s latest dining spot, Asie, is now open next door to La V — her beloved downtown St. Pete restaurant specializing in Vietnamese fusion.

With a name that means Asia in French, the newbie at 437 Central Ave. focuses on elegant pan-Asian dishes and sushi, plus specialty cocktails. Fun tidbit: Asie connects to its older sibling in the back — rather than the front, which was taken into consideration — and that has allowed La V to start offering full liquor, too.

click to enlarge Grilled baby octopus from the 400 block newbie. - Meaghan Habuda
Meaghan Habuda
Grilled baby octopus from the 400 block newbie.

While Asie spotlighted items like sesame scallops, tofu ramen, eggplant stuffed with ground pork and shrimp, and grilled baby octopus on a recent visit, the menu is still being tweaked. Wash the grub down with drinks such as the Tokyo Old Fashioned (the classic recipe made with Japanese whisky) and Saigon Sunset (Purity Vodka, cranberry, edible flower and a foam topper).

According to general manager Jason Saal, happy hour from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday — when diners score $1 sushi rolls and a $4 mystery plate (read: chef’s choice) that’s not listed on the regular lineup — has been popular thus far. Patrons are also calling ahead to order the $32 sticky rice-wrapped chicken that takes two hours to prepare.

Asie, which had all of its furniture shipped over from Vietnam, even features a 12-seat private dining room. Eventually, as Saal puts it, the team would like to use it as a venue for live music. For now, though, they’re working on the next project: another salon down the road called Le Nail; Saal says it’s planned at the bottom of the Chihuly Collection building on Central.

• St. Pete’s Dissent Craft Brewing Company launched at 5518 Haines Road N. in late December. In the coming months, the pair of friends behind Dissent, Chris Price and Dale Miller, are set to expand into the adjacent space, but their intimate tasting room offers 12 taps at the moment. 

“We were both well-established business people, both homebrewers. We did CrossFit together. There were so many common threads and so much synergy between our backgrounds and skill sets that when the idea was hatched,” co-founder Miller said in a statement, “Dissent Craft Brewing Company was born.”

The Dissenter (a Belgian IPA with tropical hops and Belgian phenols and spices from the yeast) and Hazy Mangover (a mango habanero IPA) — which CL covered last year — are among the brewery’s core beers. Expect to see a rotating selection of house one-offs soon, including a rooibos tea brown ale and a ginger American wheat ale.

Sixteen-ounce cans and 32- or 64-ounce growler fills are available as well.

• The first Washington location for Tampa-based World of Beer opened over the weekend. This new outpost — joining the existing 75-plus WOB locations across 23 states — coincides with the taphouse chain’s plans for West Coast expansion in 2018 and 2019.

Noah’s recently took over the property that was previously occupied by Bono’s Chicago-style eats at 6721 Ulmerton Road. The Filipino restaurant celebrated its grand opening in Largo earlier this month, spotlighting dishes like pork sisig (grilled pork belly with onions, celery, peppers and citrus juice), pancit (stir-fry rice noodles with veggie and meat egg rolls) and beef kaldereta (beef stew cooked in tomato sauce, potatoes, carrots and peppers).

• Not far from Noah’s, a second location for St. Pete-born M&G Cuban Cafe is in the works. M&G Cuban Cafe II has “coming soon” banners up at 7177 Ulmerton Road, as well as signage promoting empanadas, tamales and those signature Cuban sandwiches that’ve been around since 1983.

The Largo plaza where M&G is taking shape also houses a young, fast-casual Korean barbecue place, Kogi Grill, at 7161 Ulmerton Road.

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