Vibrant Asian fusion hotspot celebrates its first anniversary
Landing a #2 spot in its category among the Tampa Bay Times “Top 50 Restaurants” of 2016, Souzou is becoming a tour de force in St Pete’s culinary scene and a pioneer of swanky dining in the ‘Burg’s historic uptown.
The Asian fusion restaurant is a relative newcomer, showcasing more than just an innovative, globally-inspired menu that prides itself on using the freshest ingredients in a “scratch kitchen” (think housemade sauces and hand-cut fish).
Led by Culinary Director Tammie Moir, Souzou’s creations are an authentic nod to the distinctive flavors of China, Japan and Thailand. Popular, often locally sourced favorites such as sesame seared tuna take center stage alongside inspired reinterpretations of traditional, mouthwatering fare like Tsukune (Japanese meatballs). Souzou’s sushi bar artisans offer 28 different Instagram-worthy sushi specialties including the “Category 5” spicy tuna roll that stirs up about as much excitement as its namesake.
Where Souzou sinks other sushi boats though is with its contemporary, upscale dining experience. The sleek, 4,500-SF interior space is roomy without being cavernous. Lively without being mind-numbingly loud. Upscale without being pretentious. Rough-hewn walnut communal tables and cozy, high-back leather booths (that you can’t see over and your thighs won’t stick to, bless) all surround the pulsing heart of Souzou: a 36-seat, illuminated, white onyx bar showcasing a curated drink menu extensive enough to quench any alcoholic hankerings without the overwhelming indecision caused by wallpaper-book-sized cocktail lists.
We looked at some of the best metropolitan Asian fusion eateries around the country and wanted to bring that kind of superior quality and sophistication here. Of course we are not in New York City, so what we created had to be custom fit to St. Pete.Patrick Marston
A private event room designed for business meetings, book clubs or GNOs seats more than 40 in welcome seclusion without feeling too quarantined. Souzou’s waitstaff balances the right amount of attentiveness with enough chill not to balk when 12 different AmEx cards split the check.
Oversized Japanese Samurai paintings gallery wrapped on canvas are worthy of an Asian art installation at the Guggenheim and also seem to say, “Your gluten-free noodle request is sacred here.” An impressive collection of flat screen TVs are prominent throughout the buzzing bar area; but Ferg’s it is not. The space is still more art gallery chic than sports bar and cleverly branches off into more intimate dining territory designed for guests who prefer to gaze into their partner’s Lychee martini rather than catch a Rays game.
A softly lit restroom mirror (in which you’re barely able to distinguish between a sesame seed in your teeth and a chopstick) has the same surprisingly tranquil effect as putting your iPhone on “do not disturb.”
Windows stretch to the ceiling bathing the restaurant’s interior with natural light or the romantic twinkle of stringed globe bulbs that drape across the parking lot. Yes, you read that right: more than 75 dedicated parking spots plus free, onsite valet. St Pete peops, rejoice.
“We looked at some of the best metropolitan Asian fusion eateries around the country and wanted to bring that kind of superior quality and sophistication here,” said co-founder Patrick Marston who partnered with Ryan Griffin, co-owner of Mandarin Hide, and local hospitality guru and 3 Daughters Brewery owner Mike Harting to launch Souzou in 2015. “Of course we are not in New York City, so what we created had to be custom fit to St Pete.”
And thus much of Souzou’s appeal derives from its ability to cater to a convivial crowd of locals and tourists alike. From the lunchtime power suits craving quick and easy parking as much as pork banh mi, to the Palladium theatergoers strolling the two blocks uptown in search of a small-batch aperitif. Souzou is the cool neighborhood friend who invites everyone to her party.
What We Love:
- “The Sunset Menu” daily from 5 to 7pm: $4 beer, $7 wine/craft cocktails, and a handful of Souzou’s most sought-after hot plates and sushi, all hovering around $7 to $10.
- Online ordering and free delivery through FoodNow with promo code SZFD16
- The full-length mirror outside the restrooms because you’ll look top-of-the-funhouse-mirror thin
Our Handpicked Winners:
Drizzled with sweet Hoison sauce and served over a bed of fresh Asian slaw, these juicy pork and beef meatballs are Souzou’s signature recreation of a classic Japanese favorite. $12
Vegetarian: Souzou Salad
Heaping portions of chilled romaine, cucumber, and grape tomatoes, kissed (not doused) with housemade ginger miso dressing that is the real star here. Just enough kick to make you want to bottle it, but nothing you’ll still taste in your mouth the next day. $8
Sushi Lover: Category 5
Kabayaki sauce, chili aioli, dynamite mix and scallions turn up the heat on fresh, sinewy cuts of bluefin tuna in this signature roll. $15
Vegan: Spicy Edamame
Sriracha and seasalt-infused edamame $6 partners perfectly with steamed jasmine rice $4, and you won’t leave hungry.
Gluten Free: Tan Tan Men
Ask for gluten-free ramen in this Momofuko-worthy ramen classic made with ground pork and garlic (not enough to repel vampires). $14
Fried chicken, shrimp, vegetables or fish served with mixed vegetables, steamed broccoli, egg noodles or white rice because … fried. $5
Cheers to: Ginger-Cucumber
Fresh-pressed ginger and just a hint of crisp cucumber combine with Crop organic, artisanal vodka (made in the U.S.) to become the refreshing craft cocktail you hate to love so much. $12
You “Desserve” it: Ginger Coconut Crème Brulee
Two small ramekins of this berry-topped, caramelized classic will have you wondering why crème brulee is done any other way. $6
Tampa Bay Times
“Top 50 Restaurants” of 2016: #2 Asian Fusion
Tampa Bay Metro
“Best of Metro” 2016: Best Asian Cuisine
“Best of the Bay” 2016
Seaboard Seafood Festival
Best Seafood Dish
Souzou Asian Fusion & Sushi
435 5th Ave N
Saint Petersburg, Florida 33701