Soobak

I went to Soobak with some friends last month was impressed with how good the food there was. Arriving early (for friends who always arrive late), I decided to order a California Roll to start my meal and was surprised with the generous portions and fresh taste of the roll.

All the sushi rolls were delicious, including the eel handroll I tried. I am normally not a huge fan of complex rolls, but the Soobak Signature Roll, which features katsu lobster, salmon, krab delight, avocado, masago, tempura deep-fried with eel sauce, was delicious! Prices were extremely reasonable with their most expensive roll being under $10.

The galbi bento box (pictured below) has plenty of rice and the ginger salad was excellent – trust me it will be hard to find LA galbi (the one you see in the USA) for less than $10 anywhere (even for lunch). The pieces of galbi were savory, sweet, bone-licking goodness.  The miso soup that I added on was also worth the extra $1.

One of the most interest parts of the meal was the Korean Taco with Bulgogi. It was absolutely amazing. $6.95 for two, but fully-loaded with plenty of ingredients inside – there is nothing like it in Tampa Bay.

We sampled the frozen yogurt and it was surprisingly delicious (I’m not a huge fan of frozen yogurt because it normally hurts my sensitive teeth) – the taro was flavorful and went down easy. The place is small, but they have a big enough table for lunch with a few friends. Location-wise it’s close to Downtown and South Tampa – easily accessible from a bridge in the middle of the two. Parking is in the street – you might not be able to park in front, but there are plenty of public parking spots in the area.

Overall, this place has plenty of different Asian dishes at affordable prices and with great tastes so I will be back for many more trips to this Asian spot on Davis Island. Make sure you sign up for a rewards card!

Fun fact: Soobak means watermelon in Korean.

Soobak on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: Soobak

Cuisine: Korean, Japanese

Neighborhood: Davis Island

Address: 218 E. Davis Blvd. Tampa, FL 33606

Phone Number: (813) 258-3377

Website: http://www.facebook.com/soobaksushi

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One Family Korean Restaurant

I have dined at One Family Korean Restaurant (known as Pine Tree Karaoke Cafe until 2010) for about 3 years now. Regarded by many as the best Korean restaurant in Tampa Bay and after searching high and low myself, I have to agree. One Family offers reasonable prices for dishes in comparison to the Korean price inflation found at several other restaurants in town. Their lunch prices stay around $10 as well and even dinner is a bargain. The side dishes are not as plentiful as Rice Restaurant and Lounge, but One Family provide the essentials.  One Family is found in a Korean plaza on Hillsborough Avenue (right past some yellow flashing street lights) and is right next door to a Korean grocery store called S-Mart 1. The restaurant is easy to miss if you don’t look out for buildings with Korean writing.

I came for dinner and split a few entrees with friends. We ordered 해물파전 (Haemul Pajeon) for $10.99, 돌솥비빔밥 (Dolsot Bibimbap) for $11.99, 불 고 기 (Bulgogi) for $14.99, and 갈 비 (Galbi) for $16.99. Normally we would be fine just with one appetizer and a main course, but we wanted to have a variety of things during this dinner. The price was still reasonable when split. Some places charge over $20 for Galbi, believe it or not.

The first thing to arrive was our appetizer: 해물파전 (Haemul Pajeon) or Seafood Pancake. The pancake was great! It is perhaps one of the best seafood pancakes I have had in the Tampa Bay area. The sauce in the middle is a spicy sauce, but actually edible for sensitive diners, unlike the one at Sa Ri One that almost burned my tongue off. The ingredients inside were cooked well. I was excited when the dish arrived and accidentally ate a piece before I could snap a photograph. The Haemul Pajeon went quick, but it was quite filling as a start and it is important to share this dish because you get tired of the seafood taste after a few pieces.

The 돌솥비빔밥 (Dolsot Bibimbap) is one of my favorite dishes at One Family. It is a hot stone bowl filled with steamed rice and topped with ground beef, vegetables, and a sunny side up egg. They also give you spicy sauce on the side. This entree is AMAZING. You can still hear all the ingredients in the hot stone bowl cooking when it comes out. Break your egg and mix the ingredients to begin a delightful tasting adventure. I mix the bibimbap with everything I eat. You will find yourself attempting to finish the bowl, but there is so much food packed in that I have found it to be almost impossible. It is only $1 extra to upgrade from regular bibimbap to the stone bowl so I always upgrade. It just tastes better that way.

The 불 고 기 (Bulgogi) or marinated grilled beef with vegetables came out on a sizzling skillet. I found the beef to be perfectly tender and full of flavor. Superior to Soul of Korea, but still not quite the flavor Sa Ri One on South Dale Mabry has. The price is about the same as Sa Ri One, but I think the portion here was much larger and better for sharing with friends or family members (The one at Sa Ri One was just for one). I enjoyed the beef and felt it was worth the price.

Ah…The 갈 비 (Galbi)! Galbi is one of my favorite Korean dishes and One Family makes delicious pieces of Korean short ribs. Each piece leaves a savory aftertaste and you will be licking the bone. The pieces were huge and the price is reasonable when compared to the crazy $20+ prices at other restaurants, such as Matoi Sushi. I have love for the Galbi at Pacific Grill in Valrico, but for Tampa residents the Galbi at One Family is the best bang for your buck.

The waitress was attentive, but nothing to brag about. She came and brought our food and went on her way. Stopped by for some refills throughout our meal. Most of the waitresses are young Korean girls, probably daughters or family friends of the owners. Most patrons are Korean here as well. The restaurant is nicely decorated, quiant, and feels like it took a slice out of Korea. Overall, One Family Korea is a great and affordable Korean restaurant and my personal favorite in Tampa Bay.

After our meal we decided to sing some karaoke upstairs. It was $25 an hour. Split between friends it isn’t so bad and the price is on-par with Korean karaoke spot Tampa Karaoke, though the English song-list was a bit lacking to Tampa Karaoke’s frequently updated list. The funniest song to karaoke was “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion :).

One Family Korean Restaurant and Karaoke on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: One Family Korean Restaurant

Cuisine: Korean

Neighborhood: Town N Country

Address: 7030 W Hillsborough Avenue Tampa, FL 33634

Phone Number: (813) 901-0153

Website: http://www.onefamilykoreanrestaurant.com/

Tomo Sushi

My friend and I have been planning to eat at Tomo Sushi for months, but something always comes up. We finally had a chance to have lunch yesterday, and I really enjoyed my first visit to this sushi restaurant. It’s located near USF on Bearss a short drive from Campus Lodge or Collegiate Hall. We were seated right when we entered.

They have some visual representations of things on the menu on the table and the menu has a few pictures as well. After spending some time deciding I decided to have the Tomo Lunch Box, a bento (おべんと) box ($10.95) which comes with one piece of salmon, one piece of tuna,  teriyaki chicken, rice, 4 pieces of California Roll, tempura shrimp and vegetables, miso soup, and salad. It didn’t sound like much at first thought, but I was stuffed in just a short while. My friends ordered some sushi rolls from their sushi menu.

The Ginger Salad was excellent! Not the best I have had, but up there with plenty of ginger sauce that didn’t make the salad bland, but kept it tasteful down to the bottom.

The Miso Soup was also pretty good, plenty of seaweed and tofu inside, however it did taste a little too much like onion powder.

The Tomo Lunch Box was excellent. There was plenty of food. The salmon and tuna nigiri tasted great and fresh. The California Rolls were good, but I probably take out the cucumber from them on a future visit. The tempura was great and the shrimp tempura is some of the best I have had in quite some time. They included plenty of teriyaki chicken and rice with several vegetables in the mix as well. It was more than enough to feed one person and well worth ($10.95).

My friends with their sushi.

I really like the decor inside of Tomo. You can see the booths are very personal and have dividers in between booths separating your party from other ones in the restaurant. There are paintings on the walls of fish and a number of traditional Japanese paintings around the restaurant. The sushi bar also looks nice and I would like to sit there in the future. They play some traditional music in the background as well, which is low enough to allow your party to have a nice conversation, but still enjoy some music while dining.

Mmm looks appetizing.

Overall, the food was great and service was on point. They have a number of Korean BBQ dining options as well, being Korean owned so I will have to return in the future to try their Bulgogi or Galbi. Tomo has traditional Japanese food as well such as Yakisoba, Don Katsu, and various types of Udon. I’ll be back in the future.

Tomo Japanese Sushi Bar on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: Tomo Japanese Sushi Bar

Cuisine: Japanese, Korean

Address: 15021 N Florida Ave. Tampa, FL 33613

Neighborhood: North Tampa

Phone Number: (813) 962-1560

Sa Ri One for Priscilla’s Birthday

My good friend Priscilla decided to have her birthday dinner at Sa Ri One, a popular Korean restaurant in town, and in my opinion one of the best choices in the Tampa Bay area. The menu has lots of different choices at average prices. I tried Galbi-tang for the first time during this visit.

This appetizer was delicious =)

Seafood Pancake!

Bibimbap!

The beef bulgogi is so good here…I think it is my favorite place to have bulgogi in town. Lunch box (Sa Ri One’s fast food version) has my 2nd favorite.

I’ve never had this one…future blog post? 🙂

Sa Ri One gives a few side dishes with their meals.

Sweet-tasting Korean alcohol.

When I first got the Galbi Tang I was a little afraid to try it because it was boiling hot. Once I finally had some I found myself really intrigued with the taste of it. It has a plentiful amount of black pepper in it, which opened up my nostrils completely. The egg inside was great as were the vegetables they put as well. There was some bone from the galbi, but when I finally got to the Galbi meat…that was truly the best part. Completely tender and full of flavor. I wish there was more in there, but it was still great and extremely filling. It was truly impossible to finish this soup and the price was cheaper than ordering regular Korean BBQ. Another successful Korean food adventure.

A close up view…you can see some of the pepper.

Happy Birthday Priscilla =)

Until next time Sa Ri One.

Sa Ri One Korean on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: Sa Ri One

Address: 3940 W Cypress St. Tampa, FL 33607

Phone Number: (813) 874-2911

Sa Ri One Lunch Box: New Korean To-Go by USF

Note: Sa Ri One Lunch Box has closed down.

About 3 weeks ago Sa Ri One, one of my favorite Korean restaurants in Tampa, opened a new branch called Sa Ri One Lunch Box out by USF. Tuesday my friends and I dined at the original Sa Ri One on Cypress St. (more on that in my next blog). Curious about how this location matches up I decided to grab some dinner at Lunch Box the next night.

Driving down 56th Street it’s really easy to miss Lunch Box. There is a ton of construction around and the plaza you find the little Korean place in is not the best area. However, the location is great in relation to USF and Temple Terrace residents having access to it. One of the employees there told me one of the reasons they opened a new branch was because they wanted to make it easier for people, who normally have to go all the way to Cypress Street by South Dale Mabry, to enjoy a good Korean meal.

Lunch Box is exactly what it sounds like, they have lunch and dinner portions of popular Korean food. You won’t be able to purchase Korean soups, enjoy lots of sides, or specialty items because the concept of Lunch Box is a to-go concept. You come in and select an order from the list of combos, such as Galbi, Bulgogi, Bibimbop, and Kimbob. A few minutes after ordering you have a to-go box in your hand full of vegetables, dumplings, rice, and your choice of meat.

An employee there hinted that they are working on some new concepts and that a snow ice cream will be coming soon to their location.

The place itself is clean and will hopefully keep the modern look it currently has. They also offer wi-fi, which is nice for iPod Touch and laptop users like myself. I decided to try their bulgogi beef since I didn’t order it the night before at the original location (almost all my friends did though).

The bulgogi was excellent. I think it maybe slightly better at the original since it’s on that hot pan when it comes out, but they still served it to me right it was cooked right. There was plenty of flavor, seasoning, and vegetables on it…it did not dry out. The vegetables and dumplings were a nice addition and the white rice (they also have fried rice) made me feel full. The price was affordable only around $9 as well (with a soda can).

Overall, I really like this little spot and will be making many trips back whenever I get the craving for Korean food and am in the USF/Temple Terrace area.

Sa Ri One Lunch Box on Urbanspoon

Name: Sa Ri One Lunch Box

Address: 8892 N. 56th St Temple Terrace, FL 33617

Phone Number: 813-984-2800

Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz/sa-ri-one-lunch-box-tampa

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”

Sam Oh Jung

After spending a day at Siesta Keys Beach I found myself wanting some Korean food. Unfortunately it was already late by the time we were leaving and traveling back to Tampa to a Korean restaurant there would take too long. Some searching online helped us find Sam Oh Jung in Bradenton (thanks to Coty S. for reviewing it) and we redirected our course that way. We arrived pretty late (around 9:25PM) and they close at 10PM, but service and food did not suffer despite this circumstance, a true mark of good service.

We ordered two Korean entrees, their Galbi and Dak Bulgogi (around the average price of $20 for each). The food came after only a short wait. The Galbi ribs were heavenly, each bite left you wanting more. It came perfectly off the bone and even the onions that were in the sizzling platter were satisfying.  The Dak Bulgogi tasted more like smoked chicken, it was pretty good as well, however it was no match against the Galbi. This restaurant is actually known more for their sushi, but we did not try any during our visit.

Galbi

Dak Bulgogi

We were the last people in the restaurant and they were very polite to us during our entire stay. I am happy to know that a place like this exists in Bradenton and during visits to Siesta Keys or Lido Beach in Sarasota I now know where I can go to get my Korean fix.

Sam Oh Jung on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: Sam Oh Jung

Address: 6032 14th St W Bradenton, FL 34207

Phone #: (941) 755-3568

Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz/sushi-sam-oh-jung-bradenton