By Tes Silverman
TOA Asian Fusion may seem like a small restaurant compared to nearby Honu in Huntington village, but don’t let the exterior fool you. The place, which runs long with dark brown booths, white chairs and wooden tables in the dining area, fits 150 people.
In contrast to the dark hues of the walls and some of the furniture, blue lighting fixtures highlight the chandeliers, aisles and cozy booths that give diners a relaxing atmosphere.
Since its opening on Oct. 8, owner Evan Chen has been introducing diners to a fusion of Asian specialties that encompass Chinese, Japanese, Malaysian, Korean, Thai and Vietnamese.
Your Asian fusion journey should start with appetizers like pan fried pork buns ($8), lobster tacos ($12), and grilled baby spare ribs ($12). The pork buns are pan fried, so the bun is soft and fluffy on top and slightly crispy on the bottom. As a result, diners can taste the slow-roasted pork encased in its yummy goodness. The lobster tacos are unique because of its Asian version of a taco with a biscuit consistency, unlike a hard or soft shell taco one may have at a Mexican restaurant. Made with ceviche-style Maine lobster, mango salsa, cilantro and jalapeno, the lobster tacos are for diners who like a little sweetness and heat.
Unlike your usual Chinese take-out spare ribs, TOA’s grilled baby spare ribs are slow-roasted, so they fall off the bone as you bite into them. Served with mixed vegetables and sweet and sour sauce, it creates a hearty version of the Chinese spare ribs.
If you’re looking for lighter appetizers before tackling any entrees, Executive Sushi Chef Benny Liu’s sushi appetizers like king crab tuna dumplings ($15) and signature rolls like king lobster roll ($18) and angel hair roll ($16) are the other options. The king crab tuna dumplings stand out not only because of their taste, but presentation. The dumpling wrapper is actually the tuna, creating a play on Chinese and Japanese cuisine. The dumplings are made with Alaskan king crab, avocado, tempura crunch and wasabi tobiko and served with wasabi sauce. The various textures of the tempura crunch, the creamy avocado, with the soft and delicate king crab and tuna make it a complex dish that’s fun to dissect.
For entrees, Executive Chef Kang-Baio Chen’s Szechuan crispy dry beef ($23) and the Toa roasted Peking duck ($26-half order/$46-full order) are the ones to choose. The Szechuan crispy dry beef is made with shredded beef that’s lightly battered and has a slightly sweet flavor that enhances the beef without diminishing its crispy texture. The Peking duck is crispy and meaty, and served with mini buns, scallions and hoisin sauce to make a sandwich, it is as authentic as what one could have when ordering it in Chinatown.
TOA offers craft cocktails as well as wines and sake, but one drink that should be ordered is the off-menu hibiscus lemonade. Made with Double Cross vodka, lemon juice, hibiscus syrup and a real hibiscus flower ($12). What makes the hibiscus lemonade interesting is the edible hibiscus flower, which is sweet and, combined with the hibiscus syrup, cuts down the vodka taste – resulting in a refreshing drink.
For dessert lovers, the Oreo tempura ($8) and chocolate trilogy ($8) are the ones to have. The Oreo tempura is made up of five pieces of battered, fried Oreos and served with vanilla ice cream, which is great for one who loves Oreos with a twist. The chocolate trilogy, made with chocolate cake, layered with dark chocolate, milk chocolate and white chocolate mousse, topped with dark chocolate bark is decadent and perfect for any chocolate lover.
TOA offers lunch specials daily from 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. except holidays, with choices of Asian cuisine, sushi and sashimi, as well as Bento boxes.
If you would like something more adventurous, TOA’s Dim Sum menu is offered on Saturdays 12-5 p.m. and Sundays 3-6 p.m. with prices ranging from $2.95-$6.95 per item.
For General Manager Kevin Inkles, TOA offers more than just a fusion of cuisines. “I want our diners to experience authentic Eastern cuisine while having an eclectic dining experience. We have innovated not just an extensive food menu, but one of the most crafty cocktail menus, all while using nothing but fresh ingredients,” Inkles said.
Another reason for their success is the friendship between Inkles and Evan Chen since they met in 2013, which carries over to the staff as well. “We have known each other for a little over two years and we share a common goal. We treat not just each other but all of our staff like family and that is why we have been so successful and why I love coming to work.”