Half-Crazy Fusion at Pinto Thai Bistro and Sushi Bar

We spoke (briefly) about the opening of the new(ish) Pinto Thai Bistro and Sushi Bar back in August, right around the time the place was opening up at 408 Broadway East. There was a quick note about the address, an even quicker mention of the fact that it was doing a combination of Thai food and sushi, and nothing more.

But it wasn't until earlier today that it occurred to me to check out the actual menu and see what, in fact, Pinto was making of this strange version of geopolitical neighborhood fusion--to see what, exactly, a Japanese/Thai fusion restaurant's menu would actually look like.

And I have to say that while I was pretty uninterested in checking the place out when I first heard about it (because, seriously, this is still Seattle, right? Odds are pretty good that if you're at a sushi bar, there's probably a Thai restaurant not far off, maybe right next door...), now that I've seen the board, I'm kinda digging the idea.

I mean, edamame and classic Japanese gyoza served right alongside fried shrimp toasts, crab rangoon and satay sounds pretty good, doesn't it? Soft-shell crab with ponzu. Yakisoba rubbing shoulders with pad khee mao all full of jalapeno and basil. Tekka maki, negi hamachi, big fat futomaki and red crab dragon rolls with avocado and eel sauce on the same menu, the same table, the same plate as penang curry and Thai fried rice and spicy Thai basil with beef.

Okay, maybe not the same plate, but you get what I'm saying.

Pinto isn't really a fusion restaurant. There are fusion elements to the menu (particularly among the house specials, where Japanese grilled salmon in soy glaze gets topped with a hot Thai curry sauce and pad Thai gets served with a hit of tempura), but for the most part, the restaurant is just a mutt, with two distinct cuisines being practiced separately but under the same roof. And while yes, one could simply stop by the neighborhood sushi bar for a few hand rolls and some miso soup, then go down the street for a hit of yellow curry and traditional pad Thai, why go to all the trouble?

Apparently, this combination is not all that rare in bigger cities. This, from the Pinto website: "Although the combination of Thai and Sushi is new to Seattle, it has been a popular combination in New York, Chicago and LA. We offer traditional and modern Thai, Japanese dishes and sushi. We have crafted some interesting fusions of the cuisines we would love you to try, but rest assured that you can find great original dishes as well."

And now that the Pinto kitchen has got some shifts behind it and had a few weeks to settle, I'm looking forward to seeing what they can do. Matter of fact, I could kind of go for some ebi nigiri and samurai pad Thai right about now...

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