I finally made it out to Zato Thai Cuisine and Sushi Bar, which opened several months ago on Skillman just south of I-635. It’s a tiny space in the back of the shopping center that houses Tom Thumb. The fully stocked sushi bar, staffed with competent sushi chefs, sits inside a quaint, quiet dimly lit restaurant. The staff is polite and attentive, probably eager for a customer since only two tables are occupied despite the fact that it’s 7 p.m. on a Thursday. I order the Pad Prig King with tofu ($9.95), which is consistent with my (lax) vegetarian diet. This dish is for the minimalist who likes a kick. It’s simple — green beans with dry spicy super-light curry and kaffir lime leaf — light but with intense taste, and satisfying. For my son, I ordered the Pineapple Fried Rice ($8.95) with shrimp (add $1.50), which has to be the best fried-rice dish I’ve ever tasted. In fact, a week later (last night) I tried to imitate the dish at home with the rice, pineapple, tomato, onion, scallions, carrot, green peas, egg, raisins and cashews, but mine wasn’t as good — the Zato version was the right blend of savory sweetness and it totally lacked that fried, burnt-oil taste that comes with fast-food fried rice dishes. Also, the quantity was impressive on this dish. I finished the Pad Prig alone, but the fried rice was enough to feed two. As for the sushi, Zato serves up big fat rolls, the Zato roll ($11.95) — shrimp tempura, crab meat and cucumber topped with spicy tuna and chef’s special sauce — is a good bet for those less adventurous sushi consumers or someone new to sushi. They also offer eel, octopus and fish egg for the more advanced. The prices are middle-of-the-road to high, but this is a nice place with quality cuisine. The kind of place we should embrace here in Lake Highlands. Sushi can be intimidating, but this place is not. They will be happy to have you and walk you through the menu. They were with me, anyway. I got my food to go, but this seems the perfect place for a quiet date night.

Zato

214.341.5321

9090 Skillman