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Reviews

Sushi Ninja

Sushi Ninja, located in the Bell Shoals shopping plaza off Bloomingdale Avenue in Brandon, is a quiet little sushi restaurant and bar that we decided to visit yesterday. The restaurant was empty at around 3pm and we made our way to the bar. All you could hear was water falling from their little waterfall. The restaurant itself was full of wooden booths made to look traditionally Japanese and decorations can be found all over, giving the restaurant a relaxing vibe to it.

At the bar my sister and I sat and had lunch. The owner made our sushi rolls, she was friendly and we found out that we actually know some of the same people. My sister ordered salmon skin with cream cheese and I ordered a California Roll ($4.00) with miso soup and ginger salad. The ginger salad was fantastic, savored it down to the very last bite. The miso soup was also great, enough flavor without tasting too powerful.

Ginger salad and Miso Soup.

When we got our rolls though, that’s when I decided this place is pretty awesome. The rolls were eight pieces and large. They weren’t cheap with the masago or the avocado (one of my sushi pet peeves). There was plenty of fish and it tasted fresh and flavorful. I ate my California Roll so fast that I ended up decided to order another one because it was just that good.  My sisters salmon and cream cheese was also great, though I am not a fan of cream cheese. The service was quick and painless and my sister and I were pretty much the driving voices there. They have a selection of Japanese sakes and Korean liquors as well, though we decided against it today and there were a wide variety of rolls on the menu.

You can see in this photo they were not cheap with any ingredients.

Prices for regular rolls were average, but many of the specials were over $12 or even $15 dollars. We did not make in time for their lunch special, but may have to try that out someday. The food here was unexpectedly great (it’s been a few years since I last ate here) and I would return again in the future.

Sushi Ninja on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: Sushi Ninja

Cuisine: Sushi

Address: 887 E Bloomingdale Avenue Brandon, FL 33511

Neighborhood: Brandon

Phone Number: (813) 662-3377

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Reviews

Hiro’s Tokyo Steakhouse and Sushi Bar

Hiro’s Tokyo Steakhouse and Sushi Bar is a popular spot among many people because of it’s late night half-off sushi special. It’s open until 2am from Sunday-Wednesday and 3am from Thursday-Saturday, which is pretty late for a sushi restaurant. Many of my friends frequently drive from Tampa out to St. Petersburg to enjoy some late night sushi with their pals. The place is alive with loud music and a packed bar as well a many customers at the tables and hibachi. The sushi is cheap, indeed, but there is a slight trade-off in quality of the roll when you eat late night there. However, the atmosphere makes up for it.

Most of the sushi rolls are heavy on the sauce to mask the sushi because sometimes it doesn’t taste very fresh, in my opinion. You get what you pay for though. If you just want some cheap sushi to enjoy with friends then Hiro’s is for you. They have a number of appetizers which are half-off as well.

The mussels there are pretty good.

The California Roll was average though neither the Alaska Roll nor the mackerel were appetizing (with the Mackerel having a very strong fishy taste that wasn’t anything like my amazing mackerel at Tokyo Sushi) and I probably would not order either again.

Despite some rolls not tasting  fresh, Hiro’s still has that unbeatable late-night special that attracts many and it is a really cool place to hangout at night with friends, the atmosphere is enjoyable and nothing like some sushi restaurants that are dead silent around night time. I don’t think I would ever go here alone (unless I was sitting at the bar) because it is the perfect place to bring a few friends.

And here are two of my friends: Jason & Mikey

Hiro's Tokyo Steakhouse & Sushi Bar (St. Pete) on Urbanspoon

Restaurant name: Hiro’s Tokyo Steakhouse and Sushi Bar

Cuisine: Japanese

Address:5250 4th St N St Petersburg, FL 33703

Neighborhood: Northeast St. Pete

Phone Number: (727) 522-4476

Website: http://www.hirostokyosteakhouse.com/

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Reviews

Origami Sushi for Jason’s Birthday

I dined at Origami Sushi on Waters Avenue for my friends birthday a weeks back. The place has a great ambiance, it was so dark that we couldn’t read the menu correctly until they turned up the lights a little bit…plenty of couples were in the restaurant. The restaurant had plenty of space so our party could have its own area in the back. The hosts and waitresses were very attentive and helpful with whatever we needed to have a great birthday dinner. One thing I noticed was that there was a picture for every sushi roll on the menu so you knew what a roll such as their Halloween Roll would look like, not many restaurants will go that far and it was a great idea that I wish more restaurants would practice.

Follow the cut for my review 🙂

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Reviews

Izziban Sushi (Orlando)

I have a friend who is a sushi guru. He eats sushi every single week, multiple times a week and one of his favorite places is Izziban Sushi. After hearing about it for the longest time, I finally had a chance to come to Izziban Sushi after the Orlando Japan Festival. My time at Izziban was memorable and quite a delicious food encounter!

We showed up just in time for their Happy Hour Special (5-7PM) and were able to have sushi rolls for $3.99 and appetizers as well! The dumplings (pictured above) were quite appetizing. But what was REALLY AMAZING was…

Their cream cheese (crab rangoons) were just the BEST I have EVER had hitting my taste buds without being to creamy but just right…they were quickly devoured by my friends and I and this is when I decided Izziban was a pretty awesome place. If an appetizer can make a place then that is quite a feat in itself. If only someplace closer to home had these…

The atmosphere at Izziban was nice, though quiet. A pretty big restaurant with plenty of seating both a tables, booths, and a sushi bar. The televisions there were playing K-Pop videos and I found out later that the place is actually owned by Korean people and that Izziban has an excellent Korean food menu as well. One thing I noticed while looking around the restaurant was that they had “irrashaimase” or いらっしぁいませ (Japanese for “welcome” frequently said at Japanese businesses when you enter) written in hiragana in the front, I love it when restaurants go that extra mile.

One of my good friends and I.

All the rolls were appetizing and didn’t need much soy sauce added to them, I think Izziban’s sushi gives you way more than your moneys worth during this early bird special.  Service was average, although the waiter could have been a little more attentive to our table.The place was slow customer-wise (probably because it was a Sunday), but still with prices like this and quality like this I would be here everyday if I lived in Orlando. I really liked their Golden California Roll and the masago tasted great.

We couldn’t resist trying some of their Tempura Ice Cream. It was pretty tasty, but couldn’t match-up to the excellent Tempura Ice Cream my friends and I eat at Dragonfly Sushi. Overall, Izziban Sushi had some excellent sushi, appetizers, and dessert all at affordable prices and any opportunity I have to return here will be utilized.  Until we meet again Izziban…

Izziban Sushi on Urbanspoon

Restaurant name: Izziban Sushi

Cuisine: Japanese, Korean

Address: 1700 W Sand Lake Rd Ste D124 Orlando, FL 32809

Phone Number: (407) 850-5088

Website: http://www.izzibansushioforlando.net/

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Reviews

USF Dining Guide

Hungry by USF and wondering where to eat? Then check out my Dining Guide! A list of some of my favorite restaurants within a few miles of the University of South Florida Tampa Campus. Don’t waste money at disappointing restaurants again. Enjoy!

http://blogs.creativeloafing.com/dailyloaf/2010/10/22/dining-guide-university-area-eats/

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Reviews

Samurai Blue after David Choi Concert

Five friends and I stopped by Samurai Blue after having a good time at the David Choi concert. It was around 11:30pm so the place wasn’t busy. We were seated promptly. It took about thirty minutes to get through putting in our orders because the waitress kept going into the back…after that it took about twenty more minutes to get some water. We ordered a variety of rolls on their menu, I ordered an Endless Summer Roll ($8.50), Salmon Roll ($4.25), and California Roll ($4.95).

The sushi finally came about thirty minutes later. The waitress disappeared before we could inquire about soy sauce and it took a frustrating wait until she decided to re-appear for us to finally get our soy sauce. I found this to spoil my meal a little, because my fresh sushi was just sitting there while the waitress was missing and the restaurant was by no means busy. If the sushi didn’t taste so good it would have been a real issue because the waitress charges us gratuity at 18% for having a party of 6.

Samurai Blue’s Hawaiian Roll ($9.50) (coconut shrimp, cream cheese, asparagus and cucumber, inside out with mango and avocadoes, topped with macadarnia nuts) was delicious! The combination sounds weird but it actually is one of those things that tastes great. It’s sweet and savory.

The Samurai Roll ($8.50) (I might be wrong about the name) is an excellent roll, especially with the dip it comes with and the presentation of this roll is pretty awesome. I don’t think I have seen sushi presented this nicely before.

My California Roll and Salmon Roll both tasted fresh and were better than average. The masago tasted great and the rolls didn’t taste too salty.

The Endless Summer Roll (tempura banana, grilled eel, inside out with avocadoes on top) was fantastic. Each part of the roll has its own distinct taste and doesn’t overpower each other when you’re tasted the roll. The sauce goes great with it as well.

The Tiger Eye Roll ($8.50) (salmon, crab, avocado and smelt roe, wrapped with squid, then baked) was my favorite of the night. It has a totally different look to it and tastes great.

Overall, the sushi at Samurai Blue was great and really saved this meal because service was sub-par at best. I would come back to try some of the sushi chefs sushi, but maybe next time I’ll sit at the sushi bar and tip them instead. There are some great, creative rolls here though so Samurai Blue is worth a try.

Samurai Blue at Centro Ybor on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: Samurai Blue

Address: 1600 E. 8th Avenue, #C208 Tampa, Florida 33605

Phone #: 813-242-6688

Website: http://www.samuraiblue.com/sb/

Foursquare: http://foursquare.com/venue/354435

Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz/samurai-blue-sushi-and-sake-bar-tampa-2

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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

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

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

Food Adventures #001

Last week was full of all kinds of food adventures. Sushi, burgers, and pizza were on the menu for this jam-packed week. It started on Wednesday with the Tampa Mashable Meetup at the Tampa Bay Brewing Company. In the middle of all the socializing and new people being met from all kinds of backgrounds and career fields was me eating the “Bomb” burger, a burger with a soft potato-like shell that houses oozing cheese and lots of beef. Certainly a tasty burger, but probably too much inside for one person. Their other burgers looked pretty appetizing as well.

The “Bomb” burger untouched.

Inside the “Bomb” burger.

After having a good time meeting all those people at the Tampa Mashable Meetup. My friend and I checked out Gameworks and decided we would return the next day for their $10 all you can play special. We returned the next night with a few more friends and played video games from 7PM-1AM for only $10…quite a deal. In the middle we got hungry so we left Gameworks and headed over to Samurai Blue for some sushi.

My friend and I split a Salmon Roll, Geisha Roll, and Crunchy Tuna which were fresh, but probably still not the best sushi I have had, a little too salty and the salmon lacked it’s usual flavor. The waitress was friendly though and quick to put in our orders so that was nice. I haven’t been to Samurai Blue in quite some time so it was nice to visit again. The atmosphere inside is just as nice as always.

Saturday my friend and I were visiting a friend in Riverview and decided to try East Coast Pizza on Lincoln Rd. after hearing some good things about it. She ordered a cheese pizza and I went with their pepperoni with a garlic roll and a fountain drink. I got 20% off because I joined their rewards program and it was my first visit there.

They had some excellent service for a pizza diner and the slices of pizza are big, you can’t tell from the picture but it was probably like 3 slices of a Dominos or Pizza Hut pizza. They cook their pizza in New York brickovens, which gave the pizza a completely different taste. It wasn’t overly greasy and they put just the right amount of tomato sauce so it wouldn’t take over the taste of the cheese. I added some parmesan to my pizza because I wanted it to be a little cheesier. They had all the things you might want to add-on right there on your table. The fountain drink was inexpensive, which was nice when in some places you might have to pay $3 for a fountain drink today. The garlic roll was also great, although it would have been even better with some marinara sauce. I’ll be back for sure the next time I’m in this area.

That wraps up last weeks food adventures.

Restaurants mentioned:

Tampa Bay Brewing Company

Address: 1600 E. 8th Ave. Tampa, FL

Phone #: 813-247-1422

Website:  http://www.tampabaybrewingcompany.com/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/TBBCo

Foursquare: http://foursquare.com/venue/235934

Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz/tampa-bay-brewing-company-tampa

Tampa Bay Brewing Company on Urbanspoon

Samurai Blue

Address: 1600 E. 8th Avenue, #C208 Tampa, Florida 33605

Phone #: 813-242-6688

Website: http://www.samuraiblue.com/sb/

Foursquare: http://foursquare.com/venue/354435

Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz/samurai-blue-sushi-and-sake-bar-tampa-2

Samurai Blue at Centro Ybor on Urbanspoon

East Coast Pizza

Address: 13340 Lincoln Rd., Riverview, Florida 33569

Phone #: (813) 234-1700

Website: http://eastcoastpizza.com/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/EASTCOASTPIZZA

Foursquare: http://foursquare.com/venue/1572945

Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz/east-coast-pizza-riverview

East Coast Pizza on Urbanspoon