Reoriented

At Origin, the beautiful room is no longer empty.

Other dishes weren't exactly bad, but they didn't completely hit it either. Ahi tuna two ways ($22) offered a couple of pieces of raw tuna sushi next to a perfectly seared fillet of ahi brushed with honey sesame soy citrus glaze: The glaze had a bitter taste we guessed came from either citrus pith or grapefruit, and it didn't do a thing for the tuna. Seared sea scallops ($18) came with three thin, ho-hum dipping sauces based on nuoc nam, a red chili, and sweet lemongrass, along with sautéed vegetables and a steamer of sticky rice. And the pad sieu ($9) with tofu, broccoli, hard-boiled egg, and chopped peanuts was so bland that it barely qualified as Thai.

That blandness is one of my main issues with Origin: Sinevang may be toning down the kick of his Asian spices for American palates. Even relatively mild Vietnamese cuisine often works on a frequency you feel buzzing in the back of your throat, and Thai ingredients, with all that distilled fish sauce, pounded shrimp paste, basil, lemongrass, and hot chilies has been known to generate serious head rushes.

Joe Rocco

Details

Origin Pan Asian and Sushi, 1201 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale. Open daily for lunch and dinner 11 a.m. till 10 p.m. Call 954-533-9347.
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Real Asian cooking is a symphony of stinks: The cultures Sinevang is drawing on for his fusion cuisine have spent several thousand years mastering preservation and extraction, wringing molecules out of salted fish, mushrooms, and soybeans that contain universes of flavor. For me, this loaded syntax of taste is what keeps me falling in love over and over with pad Thai or Panang curry. Without those cadences, even in the crowded babble of voices that the term fusion implies, I still feel lonely.

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