new to Miami and confused about the Thai/Japanese restaurants
I moved to Miami a few months ago and have not yet figured out why all the Thai restaurants (well, all the ones I found so far) also serve sushi.
That's like combining two cuisines that have absolutely nothing to do with each other. I guess everybody would look surprised if all Mexican restaurants would start adding a full sized pizza selection to their menu, but no questions asked on the Thai/Japanese oddity that appears to be everywhere. It's so funny to read reviews on Thai restaurants online that start with 'They had the best sushi...'.
Up till now nobody could explain me where this comes from so maybe somebody on this site can.
And also hopefully somebody can recommend me a really good Thai restaurant where no sushi is served (just authentic Thai food). A good recommendation for a good Japanese restaurant would also be highly appreciated (as I love sushi as well but have not found a good place for it yet).
In fairness, I don't think this is exclusively a South Florida phenomenon though it is quite prevalent here. If you google "thai sushi restaurant" you will find similar places in New York, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Virginia, etc. It has come about over the past 10 years together with the increasing popularity of sushi; some enterprising Thai restaurateur said "Why don't I start doing sushi?," people bought it, and a new restaurant genre was born.
Either that or the same factory that prints all the South Florida Thai restaurant menus with the same 15 items had a malfunction and added a sushi menu, and all the restaurants using the same menus just followed suit.
For Thai, I'd agree that Tamarind on Normandy Circle does it reasonably well and offers a little more variety than most others, though it still pales in comparison to anything close to a "real" Thai experience (though I've not had the real deal, I suspect the closest I've come is Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas which is a completely different league than anything you will find locally). There are several other places that are reliable if uninspired - Siam Bayshore down the street on 79th St. Causeway (actually now called ... Sushi Siam! Just pretend the sushi bar and Japanese menu don't exist), Lotus Garden in Coral Gables.
For Japanese, Matsuri has the reputation as being tops for sushi, though my preference is for Sushi Deli,a tiny little bar in a Japanese market (called "Japanese Market") on 79th St. Causeway). For izakaya style Japanese, Hiro's Yakko-San in North Miami Beach is great (and very good sashimi, though they do no nigiri or maki). And for a fantastic omakase meal that offers a $26 bento (usually with 5 or so different items) followed by really outstanding sushi, there's Naoe in Sunny Isles.
I've said much more about Yakko-San, Sushi Deli and Naoe here ->
1412 79th Street Causeway, Miami Beach, FL 33141
Tamarind Thai Restaurant
946 Normandy Dr, Miami Beach, FL 33141
Matsuri Japanese Restaurant
5759 Bird Rd, Miami, FL 33155
3881 NE 163rd Street, North Miami Beach, FL 33160
175 Sunny Isles Boulevard, Sunny Isles Beach, FL 33160
Save for one fish house dive that's got a bit of both Japanese and Thai influence on the menu, you don't find the sushi/Thai overlap in my part of the Panhandle. There are a fair number of single cuisine Thai and Japanese place, and then 4-5 restaurants that combine Thai food, American barbecue, and a few Cuban offerings.
I think it goes back to a Nice Southern Boy who married a Thai girl when he was in the Air Force and stationed in Southeast Asia, and they ended up starting a little place where they both cooked their favorites when he retired from the service.
It comes from Miami not being all that sophisticated a food city. Thai, aside from pad thai and red or yellow curry, isn't much appreciated here as most Miamians aren't very adventurous when it comes to food. Check some of the menus at the Thai/Japanese hybrids and don't be surprised if there's a section of "cooked sushi" for Miamians not yet ready for raw fish. Most of these hybrid places are bad so avoid them if possible.
Not sure where you live, but Tamarind Thai on 71st St. in Miami Beach is pretty good. For sushi there's Matsuri on Bird Road in Coral Gables. Easier to recommend places if you tell us your neighborhood. Welcome to MIA.