hook, line, and sushi

while one of my goals in moving to st. pete is to tour the best of the best food options in the city, i also am focusing on my health. which means that, despite the stiflingly humid air that plagues florida, i’ve retaken my mantle as a runner, having replaced that with cycling during my miami years. (where the humidity was no less than 400 times worse. that’s not an over-exaggeration. that’s a scientific fact based on my sweat.)

that being said, during one of my recent runs, i found myself cutting through the parking lot of hook’s sushi bar & thai food. my running partner commented that he’d been there before and enjoyed it. so i was elated when my roommate, unprovoked, sent me a text suggesting that we celebrate the weekend at hook’s.

there are two locations, and we opted for the closer one on 9th (for the obvious reason that it’s the closer one). the place did not disappoint. our waiter was friendly and informative — when asked about a certain wine, he was able to rattle off the flavors without missing a beat, well beyond the typical, “oh it’s wonderful and summery!”

at the recommendation of a colleague, i ordered the crunchy roll (half order), filled with salmon, eel, cream cheese (i know, i know), asparagus, and coated with a lightly fried, crispy panko shell. while i’m not typically a fan of fried … things … in sushi, this gave a delightful, much-needed additional texture (like putting potato chips inside your sandwich), which i loved.

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i should add: the reason i only ordered a half roll is due to the roll’s precursors. (yes, there were two.) i couldn’t pass up a chance to sample the soup of the day, which was essentially an egg-drop soup — who doesn’t love that? — with the addition of chunks of shrimp and crab. the broth was perfectly salty, and the shellfish chunks plentiful, when most places tend to skimp on it.

after that, i treated myself to an appetizer for one. (they say sharing is caring, but i don’t care to share.) i was told the dynamite shrimp was hook’s version of bang-bang shrimp, a beloved staple of bonefish grill. (if you ever visit bonefish, do not pass on an order of this.)

it is decidedly not the same. or even close.

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what it is, however, is delicious. the generous portion of shrimp is butterflied — split in half, lengthwise — and lightly battered and fried, served in a canoe-shaped dish with a pool of hook’s “heavenly sauce.” (mum’s the word on its makeup, but give me a few more visits and i’ll attempt to figure it out.)

pro tip: order an extra portion of the sauce. it is, as it’s called, heavenly, and you will want to plunge, rather than dip, your shrimp in it.

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