At the beginning of last year, Sky Asian Cuisine quietly opened on Wilmington Pike.
The restaurant location had been through several different lives by that point. It was originally built as a Perkins, became Starlite Diner and then Sidelines Sports Bar and Grill.
It is a location that has struggled to gain traction over the years.
Sky Asian Cuisine now has more than a year under its belt, and I know I am not alone in saying I hope it is here to stay.
>> RELATED: First Look at Sky Asian Cuisine (2016)
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The restaurant has found a lot of fans since opening. The online reviews are glowing and the parking lot is always busy during peak hours.
A few reasons why:
The restaurant’s decor and open floor plan convey a modern, big city contemporary vibe. Two nice sized bars — one sushi and one cocktail — flank the perimeter of the space that seats approximately 120.
On one visit, the music struck a hip chord that went with the decor including tracks from M83 and Empire of the Sun. It was impressive and catchy. On other visits it sounded like elevator music was being piped in bringing the cool factor down several notches.
But you don’t go to a restaurant for the music. The Asian fusion food Sky served up on repeated visits was fantastic (although at times uneven).
The lemon grass seafood soup ($5.50) is one of my new favorites. The light broth packs a kick with several generously sized shrimp and a smattering of tiny scallops with cellophane noodles in a tom yum broth. It’s a soup that works regardless of the weather and is an evergreen favorite. It’s light enough to satisfy during summer and packs enough heat to help take away some of the bite of winter.
The coconut seafood chowder ($6) was satisfying and tastes like an Asian version of New England clam chowder with a creamy coconut milk base.
The complimentary salad that comes with dinner is topped with a cool, creamy ginger dressing over very fresh greens punctuated with cucumber and radish. It’s simple, but done right.
The pork gyoza ($6) was served up perfectly pan fried each time we ordered it with a crispy outer shell and deliciously soft, flavorful filling.
There is a long list of appetizers to choose from, but the gyoza, Indian pancake ($5) and crispy calamari ($8) were especially great values for the price.
The Kung Pao shrimp ($17) packed a fiery punch with generously sized shrimp served with stir-fried vegetables, peanuts and hot peppers. It didn’t match the pile of shrimp the menu had pictured, but was a tasty dish that hit the spot. A variety of different entrees on the extensive menu include a variety of curries and General Tso combinations.
A chicken negimaki ($15) featuring sliced chicken wrapped with crab meat, scallion, mushroom and asparagus with a mango sweet chili sauce is one of several interesting, must-try dishes on the menu.
There are several pan-fried noodle options that range from $12-13 as well as sizable noodle soups ($12-15) made with Japanese udon or soba noodles. Hibachi, teriyaki, fried rice and tempura dishes are also available.
The food isn’t just pleasing to eat, these are pretty dishes that are plated with intent and a create a satisfying visual start to the meal.
>> BEST OF DAYTON: Sky Asian voted Best Asian food
The menu’s shining star is by far the myriad of choices featured when it comes to the sushi.
There are sushi bar entrees, 16 signature sushi rolls, a variety of raw and cooked handrolls as well as a full list of sashimi.
The snowflake roll ($15), dressed with grilled sea bass, spicy lobster and avocado wrapped in soy bean or and served with an orange mayo and eel sauce, is a decadent, creamy option that is as rich and savory as it sounds.
The seared truffle white tuna ($11) served with yuzu citrus and shaved truffle is a nice way to start any of the meal options you decide to pursue.
The restaurant features a full bar and wine, sake and cocktail lists.
The lychee martini ($8.50) — made with vodka, triple sec, lychee puree, champagne and garnished with a lychee — is a light, pleasant way to kick things off.