The Hardrock Hotel in Panama just opened three new restaurants. Being a sushi lover, I couldn't wait to try Soy, the newest Asian fusion restaurant. When I walked into the restaurant, I was overwhelmed with the size of it. The Hardrock is about to open another 500 guest rooms, and the restaurant is sized to feed a full hotel of hungry guests.
Surprisingly, though, the restaurant is full of intimate niches that make it seem like you're in a smaller restaurant. We chose to sit on the floor for a more authentic experience. But unlike a real sushi house in Japan, we're given comfy leg wells to we can dangle our feet into an open area below the table. The photo shows just how sexy this section of seating is. What you don't see from the photo is that these floor-seating tables look out through a floor-to-ceiling window onto a spectacular city view.
Although I continuously rave about the food in Panama, service can be spotty. In my opinion, the lack of good service is most restaurants is a direct result of servers not earning full tips due to tip-sharing. So when you get good service, you really appreciate it. The service I got at Soy was phenomenal. It wasn't just my main server, who would kneel down Asian-style every time he spoke with us, brought us a dish, or took a dirty dish away. The secondary servers were just as fabulous. They were attentive without being overwhelming.
For an appetizer (or entrada in Panama), we the spicy tempura lobster. One bite and I was firmly in love. Each bite-sized morsel of lobster was tender, sweet, and just spicy enough to be interesting. A small bowl of lobster bites was $12, and it was worth every dollar.
The next course was two different sushi rolls. I love cream cheese in sushi, but I'm amazed at how many people I've met don't. The Philadelphia Roll had a small amount of cream cheese and a large portion of tender smoked salmon. The second sushi roll was stuffed with tempura lobster and avocado. Both rolls were very good, although not the best sushi I've ever had.
As a main course, we ordered another entrada... the Chicken Curry Balls. We got 3 large tempura-fried balls of chicken curry. It was on a beautiful plate that had 3 indentations for the 3 balls, and then a square indentation that held a creamy yogurt sauce. It was imaginative and flavorful, and a beautiful way to end the meal.
The newest restaurant Soy at the Hard Rock is just one more reason to love Panama. If you know you'll be there, be sure to reserve a table on the "floor" so you can experience the romance, the view, and the
Melissa Darnay is a marketer, a serial entrepreneur, and a relocation concierge in Panama. Learn more...