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Reviews

Samurai Sushi (Samurai Japanese Cuisine)

My most recent review is about Samurai Sushi, a small Japanese restaurant in Riverview that has fresh sushi for cheap prices. This is one place I high-recommend you check out. The menu is diverse, service is great, and there’s so much to say about it, a short summary will not do the place justice so please check out my review on Examiner at: http://www.examiner.com/asian-restaurants-in-tampa-bay/samurai-sushi-affordable-and-flavorful-sushi-review

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Reviews

Taste Cafe Bloggers Dinner

Taste Cafe hosted a bloggers dinner last week for local food critics and reviewers in the Tampa Bay area. The dinner was provided free of charge and was meant to be a tasting of various dishes on their menu. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner choices were served to us. In addition, the smooth saxophone sounds of John Hughes complemented a pleasant evening of tasting. Each dish was served with an explanation of the dish provided by the owners.

Robin’s South African Breakfast, a brunch item consisting of a mixture of onions, tomatoes, and bacon with eggs had an interesting taste to it, but did not really speak to my taste buds. The Crustless Quiche was palatable, but a little salty. The Original Spinach and Provolone was superb and after devouring it, I found myself wanting more. I normally dislike spinach, but this mixture really went well together.

The pumpkin curry soup had some tanginess to it. The curry flavoring brought a different twist than what I was expecting. The pumpkin taste was there, but a little weak for my liking, perhaps overpowered by the curry taste. I think the soup would be better if it were a little sweeter as well. The taste was still pretty good though and I did enjoy eating it. I am a big fan of anything pumpkin related from pumpkin lattes to pumpkin pie and pumpkins are one of the main reasons I love the fall season.

The 3 spreads and a stuffed mushroom.

The hummus, tabouli, and eggplant spread tapas were all enjoyable. My favorite was the eggplant spread. I normally detest eggplants, but the spread had a sweet taste that hit my taste buds just right. The tabouli spread was my second favorite spread, covered in onions (my favorite vegetable) and having a lemony taste to it…if you do not like onions then it really is not for you. My least favorite spread, the hummus spread, was still enjoyable but did not really have anything that screamed out to me about it. One of the reasons the hummus spread was not as enjoyable to me was because I prefer moist spreads over dry spreads.

Medi Veggie Sandwich

Le Cheekon Sandwich

The stuffed mushroom was my least favorite thing I tried. I normally like blue cheese, but the dry tart taste in the mushrooms did not appeal to me at all. The blue cheese really overpowered any mushroom taste there. The Le Cheekon sandwich, my favorite tasting from the evening, included chicken, pineapple, brie, and honey butter, all pressed together. The pineapple gave the sandwich a sweet Hawaiian taste to it and I found the chicken to be juicy and flavorful, really satisfying to my taste buds. The vegetarian option, the Medi Veggie sandwich, was enjoyable, but did not spark my interest in the same way the Le Cheekon sandwich did.

The main dinner entree was curry chicken served over brown rice. Almost tasting a little Hispanic with a touch of curry spice, this entree was enjoyable down to the last piece of rice. They gave us a few condiments to experiment in taste with it, but I found the entree to be flavorful enough on its own. Although the curry chicken does taste good, I would still order a side with it if I was having it as my only choice, because it lacks a few central tastes to a complete meal, in my opinion.

Despite being completely stuffed, dessert came and we were presented with two desserts: Dark Chocolate Mascarpone Pie and Carrot Cupcakes. The chocolate in the Marscarpone Pie cupcake was sweet, without going over the limit and becoming too sweet. The texture underneath was smooth and really enjoyable, a balanced chocolate choice. The carrot cupcake was pleasant, but a little dry. The cafe con leche they served with the cupcakes was a little bitter, and I would probably have some milk instead with these desserts.

Overall, there was a number of different things served to us and these dishes could appeal to people with many different taste buds. Attention was placed on flavor and I would say many of the choices were flavors different from your typical expectations when having these options, a pleasant surprise indeed. Taste Cafe’s idea to have a bloggers dinner says something about them, they want people to know about the food they have, even if critics or reviewers have opinions that may not be what they want and that is a bold thing to do. Their diverse menu, interesting flavors, and hospitality will bring me back there again in the future.

Taste on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: Taste Cafe

Address: 500 Main Street, Suite E, Safety Harbor, FL. 34695

Phone Number: (727)723-1116

Website: http://tastesafetyharbor.com/


Follow me on Twitter @carloseats

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Reviews

Pacific Grill: An Asian Fusion Experience in Brandon


Spicy Pork Bulgogi

I recently went to Pacific Grill with some friends. I was pleasantly surprised with the authenticity of their food and the low prices for Korean cuisine. You can read more about my experience on my Creative Loafing article here: http://blogs.creativeloafing.com/dailyloaf/2010/10/07/pacific-grill-brandons-asian-bistro-experience/

Pacific Grill on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: Pacific Grill
Address: 3452 Lithia Pinecrest Rd Valrico, FL 33596-6301
Phone Number: (813) 657-8744
Website: http://www.pacificgrillvalrico.com/home/

See more pictures below:

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Reviews

Wholly Smokes BBQ

After some work at the Hillsborough Democratic Party office we got to have a plate of food from Wholly Smokes BBQ. The macaroni and cheese was pretty good, the baked beans made just right. The chicken and turkey were also great, having a savory bbq taste. Just the smell of it makes you feel like you’re going to have a home-cooked meal. The cole slaw was pretty good, not too thick or watery in substance. Their dinner plates range from $8.75-$14.75, depending on what you like. It isn’t the cheapest BBQ joint in town, but makes some pretty good food.

Wholly Smokes Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: Wholly Smokes BBQ

Address: 6803 North Armenia Avenue Tampa, Florida 33604

Phone #: (813) 935-5879

Categories
Restaurant News

Restaurant News: Cuenelli’s Relocating to Tampa

Checkout my restaurant news on Cuenelli’s Peruvian Rotisserie Chicken’s relocation to Tampa:

http://blogs.creativeloafing.com/dailyloaf/2010/10/01/restaurant-news-cuenellis-peruvian-style-rotisserie-chicken-relocating-to-tampa/

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Reviews

Dinner @ I Ai Sushi

My Japanese friend from Kansai Gaidai University in Osaka, Hiroki-san, and I went to dinner a few weeks back at I Ai Sushi. I wanted to take him somewhere where he could look at a Japanese menu and maybe have something a little closer to home for an affordable price. No other place but I Ai Sushi came to my mind.

I was a little apprehensive because sometimes service there is lackluster, but service was actually pretty good during this visit with no complaints that I can think of at all. There weren’t many people since we came on a weeknight as well so our food came quickly.


Hiroki-san, the special guest in this review.

Miso Soup
Full of plenty of ingredients, a hearty miso soup ($2).

The first thing we ordered that came out was the Kaki Fry ($4.50). Great quality as always…Hiroki-san accidentally put it into his mouth when it came out hot and when the juices inside came out he burned himself pretty bad. >_> However, the Kaki Fry was excellent and had great texture and flavor as usual.

Tempura-Don
Hiroki’s tempura-don looked appetizing. I’d like to try it on future visits. Hiroki noted that in Japan many of the vegetables that were made into tempura in his batch were not common to have put into tempura.

Sushi!

I ordered two sushi rolls. Their Alaskan Roll ($4.25), pictured on the top, was phenomenal, their Salmon is always really fresh and just hits the spot. The price is good for that roll as well, which can sometimes climb over $5.50 at some restaurants. I was feeling experimental and gave the ❤ Ai Ai Roll ($5), pictured on the bottom, a shot and boy was I glad I did! It tasted great, really fresh and flavorful. It contains crab, shrimp, mayo, and roe…a nice combo indeed.

2 Thumbs Up
Hiroki-san gave I Ai Sushi two thumbs up and I couldn’t agree more.

I Ai Sushi on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: I Ai Sushi
Address: 3691 W Waters Ave Tampa, FL 33614
Phone Number: (813) 932-1111
Hours: Mon-Sat 11:30 am -10 pm

Categories
Food Adventures Reviews

Korean Adventure: Seafood Pancake @ Sa Ri One

Sa Ri One

My latest Creative Loafing article is on my 1st time having seafood pancakes at Korean restaurant Sa Ri One.

You can read it here: http://blogs.creativeloafing.com/dailyloaf/2010/09/21/korean-food-adventure-the-seafood-pancake-at-sa-ri-one-in-tampa/

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Reviews

A Tribute to Great Sushi @ Sushi Tsu

Sushi Tsu

I recently wrote an article about how Sushi Tsu goes the extra mile to please it’s guests and customers and to make guests have a positive and memorable experience.

You read it here: http://blogs.creativeloafing.com/dailyloaf/2010/09/13/local-japanese-restaurant-sushi-tsu-goes-the-extra-mile-for-its-guests/

Categories
Reviews

Sawatdee Thai Cuisine

I took a new friend Yong Hoon to try Thai food for his first time this past week at Sawatdee, a USF-area restaurant located only a short drive down from the university down on 56th Street.  The ambiance is similar to many small Thai restaurants: decorated lavishly, quiet, and a nice place to have a conversation with a friend or two. Lunch specials there come with three courses: soup, entree, and dessert.

The chicken vegetable soup was satisfying, but lacked any real substance to it…something to just pass the time. We both ordered Chicken Pad Thai (only $6.95 for lunch) with my friend ordering a spicy version of the entree. I also ordered a Thai Tea because my friend has never had one and that is something I think everyone should experience at least once.

Your food critic =P

Yong Hoon trying Thai food for the first time.

Chicken Pad Thai…just looking at this picture makes me hungry.

The orders came out quick and although they accidentally gave me a mildly spicy version of Pad Thai, the waitress quickly resolved the issue when I brought the matter to her attention. I have to say that a spicy and non-spicy Pad Thai are almost completely different meals even though it has most of the same ingredients. My friend and I both enjoyed our meals, the noodles were filling and there was a nice balance in extra ingredients added in, it wasn’t overdone like in some other restaurants.

The small free dessert they pass out to end the meals gives the meal a nice ending and they have a rewards card for customers who pay in cash.

Thai mission complete!

Sawatdee Thai Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: Sawatdee Thai Cuisine

Address: 10938 N. 56th Street Tampa, FL 33617

Phone #: (813) 985-2071

Website: http://www.sawatdeethaitampa.com/

Categories
Reviews

Cafe Kili

Check out my latest Creative Loafing article on Cafe Kili (one of my favorite cafes near USF) here: http://blogs.creativeloafing.com/dailyloaf/2010/08/30/cafe-kili-a-great-university-area-alternative-to-starbucks/