My favorites in the Tampa Bay area!
Rice & Company: 7982 Citrus Park Town Center, Tampa (813) 920-7423 - This is still my undisputed favorite! "Sushi in the mall...you gotta be kidding!" Well, I used to say that, until I went into this trendy Asian bistro in Citrus Park Mall. Now, all I can say is "Wow". Their spicy tuna roll was delightful; the smooth texture of the tuna melted in my mouth, working well with the spicy flavor. The rainbow roll, while a bit pricier than other restaurants, had large pieces of tuna, yellowtail, and other pieces of sashimi surrounding the roll (it was a challenge trying to fit one section in my mouth - huge, I tell you). The salmon and yellowtail were delicious & very fresh. Their tasty tropical iced tea is refreshing. Shigeo, one of the chefs at the bar, was very friendly and extremely skilled. Jay, a manager, told me that sushi used to make up 15% of their business - its now 40%. People are making the switch to this fine establishment across from the food court. For the non-sushi eaters, the menu consists of Asian fare from Japan, China, Thailand, and other countries. Their signature sushi orders; The Rice & Co Special Roll has crab, avocado, cucumber, fresh salmon, mango, and flying fish roe. I'm curious to try the Tuna Symphony or the Salmon Lover assortments, as well as the Cajun with crawfish, mayo, cilantro, and cajun seasoning. Resist the temptation to go to Johnny Rocket's for their great burgers, chili fries, and milkshakes...you won't be sorry!
Todai: 2223 N Westshore Blvd #187, Tampa (813) 872-8725 - This has become one of my favorite restaurants! I first tried Todai in California years ago, where the chain originated...it has since grown by leaps and bounds. Located at the trendy International Plaza, this location is the first in Florida...and the southeast! The sushi: incredible, both in selection and quality. I must have seen spicy tuna rolls in 3 different forms. Yellowtail, eel, fresh salmon, California roll, fried grouper roll (Tampa roll)...even a fried gator roll, its all here! I popped several pieces of tuna & salmon sashimi in my mouth like it was candy! What impressed me the most was the hardworking team of sushi chefs behind the counter working endlessly to keep the trays full. I also loved the hand roll counter, where one can request a specially made roll. Some of the non-sushi items also impressed me, like the mushroom salad, and the wonderfully prepared lobster tail. Crab leg & shrimp lovers will feel right at home here! Although the lunch is quite reasonably priced, I would suggest paying extra for dinner. I really had no complaints about this jewel, except for a personal dislike for the yellow Pickachu look-alike mascot.
Toki: 14313 North Dale Mabry, Tampa (813) 968-7371 - great sushi, in a relaxed & quiet atmosphere. I love this place - they're great for take-out also! In my opinion, the best yellowtail I've ever had! -->
Samurai Blue: 1600 E 8th Ave, Tampa (813) 242-6688 - This is my new favorite in Ybor...and voted the best sushi in Tampa, according to the 2002 Weekly Planet readers poll! I went here with a few friends for the first time during my 32nd birthday bash, and had a blast! The staff, from the bar where we started, through the meal at the table, was flawless! The nigri; tasty & fresh. The rolls; original & delicious. The presentation; beautiful. The dessert (in our case, it was tempura cheesecake); sinful! The specialty rolls I ordered were the hit at the table - the Endless Summer roll was the surprise of the night, which combined banana tempura, eel, and avocado in a truly original harmony I rarely experience. The Hawaiian roll, with coconut shrimp, cream cheese, asparagus, cucumber, mango, and avocado topped with macadamia nuts was also spectactular. My friend, Mindi, ordered the Sunomono roll, with crab, avocado, and smelt roe wrapped in a peeled cucumber...which had a very unique taste (this roll is perfect for the sushi novice). The rest of my sushi order; spicy tuna, yellowtail, fresh salmon, etc...was a delight to the senses. The decor was trendy without being obnoxious - brick walls, a high ceiling, and a long sushi bar made this small gem upstairs in the Centro Ybor complex a must-visit!