Joy of Tokyo

Joy of Tokyo is a new restaurant in New Tampa by the University of South Florida. I dined there by a twist of fate when a friend and I found Soho Sushi closed at 2PM. We found Joy of Tokyo to be open for lunch still (they are open from 11am-10pm daily…you won’t find many sushi restaurants with hours like that). There were a few tables being waited on, but we were quickly acknowledged and allowed to pick our seat. The restaurant has a modern feel with plenty of decorations and it’s spacious so you don’t feel crammed next to other people dining there.

What a cool little crab.

My friend and I were hungry and found ourselves in luck. Joy of Tokyo has a $6.99 lunch special where you an order Chicken, Shrimp, or Steak in Teriyaki, Hibachi, or Tempura Style (they also have tempura vegetables). Normally this can cost well over $15, talk about a deal. Even their Dinner prices are under $12. My friend and I decided to share hibachi steak and noodles. We also ordered another special, Tempura Shrimp and Vegetables.

Gazing at the sushi menu at Joy of Tokyo we saw two sushi specials, 2 basic rolls for $8 or 3 for $10. Why not we said? So we ordered a Yellowtail Scallion Roll, California Roll, and Salmon Avocado Roll. My friend also had an Unagi nigiri. The orders were put in promptly and we quickly received our food.

The noodles tasted great, perhaps the most flavorful hibachi noodles I have had (normally at a Japanese steakhouse you have to add some kind of sauce to make it have some flavor) in Tampa Bay. My friend said they reminded her of drunk noodles. There was plenty of steak and it was cooked all the way, but still juicy. We could have probably been filled with just this plate, but there was more to come…

The sushi rolls were a little smaller then some restaurants, but still a good size for the price. The rolls were very fresh, I have to say that I enjoyed every bite of them without needing to dip them in any soy sauce. Some people argue that California Rolls taste the same everywhere, but there really is a difference in the quality of the rice, seaweed, and crab inside. The same rule applies to salmon, I am a bit of a salmon nazi…if my salmon is not fresh I instantly can tell and this salmon was fantastic. They weren’t cheap with the avocado either, there was balance in the roll. I was impressed because I originally thought that this restaurant was more of a Japanese steakhouse, but they did a great job with their sushi as well.

My friend’s unagi nigiri looked quite appetizing as well.

The tempura was also impressive. It has to be one of the best tempuras I have had in Tampa Bay. The batter wasn’t too thick and it wasn’t too oily inside. The shrimp tempura was crunchy and somewhat similar to the excellent tempura I have enjoyed in the past at I Ai Sushi (who I consider to be the Tampa King of Japanese authentic cuisine). The Tempura sauce was good, but a little bit messy to dip in (I’d put a napkin under it next time).

Brown rice came with my friend’s tempura. I will admit I am not much of a rice consumer so my friend ate it. She enjoyed it.

Overall, I found myself to be very pleased with Joy of Tokyo. The food and serve was on point and after my meal, I conversed with the owner who was very friendly and personable. She told me that they came all the way from Ohio down her to Tampa to setup business. With Joy of Tokyo being a short drive from USF (pro tip: take the shortcut on 42nd street), it is an easy draw in for college students and employees/residents in New Tampa and Temple Terrace. The hours are friendly to people who can’t make the typical 12 to 2 lunch openings at other sushi restaurants and the deals are attractive to the wallet in this economic climate. They also have free Wi-Fi (great for iPod Touch users like me and businessmen). I’ll be back soon!


Joy of Tokyo Sushi & Grille on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: Joy of Tokyo

Cuisine: Japanese

Address: 14913 Bruce B. Downs Blvd. Tampa, FL 33613

Phone Number: 813-978-8222

Neighborhood: USF

Website: http://joyoftokyo-newtampa.com/

Advertisements

THE Tampa Taco Bus

The Taco Bus in Tampa is like a landmark…people are always there and it has over 500 ratings on Urbanspoon and 80 Yelp reviews, which is a huge number for this city. Foursquare shows check-ins even into the wee hours of the morning. A 24-hour taco truck is a godsend to this city where restaurants start to close up shop around 10pm on weekends. They have a great menu with a variety of choices and ingredients; several beverages as well, there is nothing that someone cannot love about the Taco Bus.

If the Taco Bus was in California, it would be just another taco truck…but it has successfully done correctly what I have often pondered was missing in Tampa: authentic tasting Mexican food. Anyone who is from California or some other state heavily populated with Mexican people knows that the majority of the places in Tampa or Florida that claim to be “Mexican” restaurants are actually using canned beans, pre-made rice, and no actual Mexican ingredients.

Everything from the cheese to the seasoning on the meat at the Taco Bus tastes like real Mexican food, and although the style is slightly different from what I’m used to in Northern California, Taco Bus still makes an authentic meal that I can actually enjoy. Their Carne Asada tastes great and I have tried their tacos, burritos, and recently I finally gave their quesadillas a shot. I wasn’t disappointed.

My friends burrito. I like my burritos with Carne Asada and some refried beans/sour cream.

The quesadilla ($4.99) was pressed perfectly to be crunchy and with all the ingredients warmed to the right temperature.

The inside of my quesadilla looked amazing. Plenty of cheese, tomatoes, chicken, and onions.

I also get their horchata on every visit. Although their horchata tastes a little different then how I prefer it, it still tastes great and you get a ton of horchata for just a few bucks. Usually the food comes out quick and although lines get long they move pretty quickly. There is plenty of space inside and outside to eat as well. I am in love with the Taco Bus and would totally wear one of their t-shirts if I had more money.

They are opening a Taco Bus out in St. Petersburg and now all I can do is hope they bring one out to Brandon!

Taco Bus on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: Taco Bus

Cuisine: Mexican

Address: 913 E. Hillsborough Ave, Tampa FL 33604

Neighborhood: Seminole Heights

Phone Number: (813)232-5889

Website: http://tampatacobus.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Taco-Bus/151303904885189

Twitter: @TacoBusTampa

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:

Continue reading “Pacific Grill: An Asian Fusion Experience in Brandon”

Cuenelli’s Peruvian Style Rotisserie Chicken

This past weekend my friend and I were hungry and trying to think of a place to have dinner at. We wanted a place that had some good-quality food, affordable prices, and something almost home-cooked. We are some picky eaters, but after some thinking I finally thought of a spot we could eat at: Cuenelli’s Peruvian Style Rotisserie Chicken.

A small restaurant located next to Green Iguana in Riverview in the Winthrop Plaza, Cuenelli’s has been around for some time now but is still unknown to many Tampa Bay residents. Offering many Peruvian specialties at affordable prices (usually under $10) on their menu, such as Papa la Huancaina (a Peruvian salad of boiled yellow potatoes in a spicy cream sauce), Lomo Saltado (grilled sirloin with onions and tomatoes, served with rice and french fries), and Bisteck a lo Pobre (Palomilla steak served with rice, beans, fried egg, french fries, and plaintains). They also have several desserts, such as Flan, Tres Leches, Churros, and various specialties during the weekend.

When my friend and I arrived we were able to choose where we wanted to sit. The server was patient as I explained the menu to my friend and we ordered Inca Cola (a lemon verbana-flavored soda) to drink. Another popular drink at Cuenelli’s and many Peruvian restaurants is Chicha (a purple corn soft drink which people rave about it though I have never personally tried it). My friend finally decided to order their Bisteck a lo Pobre ($10.95) and I ordered their Chicken Sandwich ($6.99). The wait time was pretty short for our meals.

My friend’s Bisteck a lo Pobre looked so good that I had to make sure I showed my readers. The palomilla steak is pretty big as you can see. He had a hard time eating it by himself and there have been plenty of times when I have ordered this and not been able to finish my food. My friend ate his food one thing at a time, but I believe that the best way to eat this entree is to break the yolk and mix everything together. There have been days when I was feeling sick and this meal made me feel way better and energized.

My Chicken Sandwich was fantastic. The chicken was tender and easy to chew, it just melted in my mouth. The lettuce, tomatoes, and onions inside added even more flavor to a well seasoned chicken. I added a little extra mayonnaise to make it a little more moist. Although this photograph may make it seem like the sandwich was small, it was loaded with chicken and I actually was only able to finish half of this sandwich despite how hungry I was. The french fries taste homemade (without too much salt and a nice soft interior) and are an excellent complement to many of the choices at Cuenelli’s.

Service was great and the waiter made sure to constantly check on our drinks and to ask us how our meal was. My friend was really impressed with the food and will be coming back soon. I know I will.

Cuenelli's Peruvian Style Rotisserie Chicken on Urbanspoon

Restaurant name: Cuenelli’s Peruvian Style Rotisserie Chicken

Address: 6260 Winthrop Town Center Ave. Riverview, FL 33578

Phone #: (813)681-7773

Hours: Monday closed, Tuesday through Saturday 11am to 9pm, Sunday 12pm-8pm

Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz/cuenellis-peruvian-style-rotisserie-chicken-riverview