At the point where Las Olas meets the Himmarshee Canal, the former Bao Bar + Asian Kitchen has new ownership and a new name. We caught up with head chef Richard Huang, who says Casa Sensei’s the place to go for Asian-Latin fusion, cool waterside vibes and even a gondola ride. But don’t worry, they’ve kept the popcorn.

Q: What sorts of places had you worked in before? What food experiences do you bring to Casa Sensei?
A: From managing the diverse kitchens of the renowned El Conquistador Resort in Puerto Rico to serving as executive sushi chef in various restaurants in the US, I was able to cultivate the unique cooking skills and use of herbs and spices that give our Casa Sensei dishes a distinctive taste, color and aroma.

Q: How did those your previous places differ from Casa Sensei?
A: Casa Sensei and our mixing and matching of global pan-Asian and Latin flavors is really the culmination of all of my years of culinary experience. So, it’s not really how my previous experience differs from Casa Sensei but instead how Casa Sensei allows me to use all of my practice, knowledge, and skill to provide to our customers the best of two culinary worlds.

Q: Got any menu favorites? It’s OK, you can tell us.
A: I have several favorite items and this question is like asking which of your children do you like best? However, if I have to recommend a couple of items that will allow a new customer to experience the essence of Casa Sensei, you can’t go wrong with our Korean Steak Chimichurri served with fried rice and maduros, our Pink Shrimp Ceviche with dragon fruit and our Fish Burnt Sushi Roll with Cajun spices. This would be my tasting menu and a culinary trip through Asia and Latin America.

Q: How tricky is it to combine Asian and Latin flavors? Do they play nicely together?
A: Asian and Latin flavors are natural cooking partners. The two cuisines actually share crossover cooking techniques, flavors and seasonings such as coriander and cilantro leaves. Casa Sensei takes advantage of these compatibilities to create a dynamic and exciting culinary experience.

Q: Is there anything on the menu that will be familiar to people who were fans of Bao?
A: We have kept a couple of customer pan-Asian favorites from the previous menu but the complimentary popcorn drizzled with buttered kimchi sauce was a must-stay. We had actually replaced our popcorn treat with homemade kimchi chips but due to popular demand, the kimchi popcorn is back to stay.

Q: For your guests dining on the gondola, is there something different you need to do or keep in mind compared to dining inside the restaurant?
A: Simply be prepared for an unforgettable experience. You can order any dish, sushi favorite, specialty cocktail, sake or wine from our standard menu and enjoy as you take a leisurely 90-minute ride down the Himmarshee Canal.

Q: Sounds cool! So then, what’s the elevator pitch? How do you sum up the Casa Sensei experience?
A: Casa Sensei is a newly remodeled and redesigned eatery offering dockside al fresco dining, a Zen garden with fire globes and two sweeping terraces overlooking the tranquil Las Olas waterfront.


The Dish: Shrimp Pad Thai

Ingredients (Serves 1 person)
  • 4 oz raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1.2 oz fish sauce
  • 1.1 oz vinegar
  • 1.6 oz sugar
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp chicken bouillon
  • 6 oz dry rice noodles
  • ¼ tsp pickled radish
  • 1 tbsp minced scallions
  • 2 tbsp bean sprouts
  • 1 egg
Method

Sauce: Mix fish sauce, vinegar, sugar, paprika and chicken bouillon in a small pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes on low heat. Cool sauce for 30 minutes.
Shrimp: Heat wok on high with a little canola oil and add shrimp. Toss until fully cooked. Set aside.
Noodles: Boil rice noodles for 3 minutes in a small pot, drain and set aside.
Final Method: Using a little canola oil, heat wok. Add scallions, bean sprouts, egg and pickled radish and toss for 60 seconds, mixing continuously. Transfer noodles, sauce and shrimp into the wok and mix with vegetables. Toss in wok for 60 seconds and serve with a lime wedge on the side.

Total
4
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