Japanese

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Seito Sushi Sand Lake hosted its first-ever craft beer dinner in collaboration with Red Cypress Brewery and Tasty Chomps got to attend!

Located in Orlando’s Restaurant Row, Seito Sushi has been serving a variety of classic Japanese fare and Asian inspired dishes over the past ten years. The restaurant is beautifully decorated with hand-selected pieces of art, creating a modern atmosphere that is also reflected in the cuisine at Seito Sushi.

Seito Sushi Sand Lake Executive Chef Seng Inthisack and Red Cypress Head Brewer Garrett Ward developed a six-course pairing menu for the evening. Red Cypress is a Winter Springs-based brewery with a focus on brewing consistent beers, while staying true to the Florida brand.

Everything about the dinner was spectacular and unique. The house cured and smoked fish from the first-course instantly set the mood for a great dinner. Paired with Red Cypress’ Fruit de la Terre Saison, which is made with Florida orange peel as a local ingredient. The beer pairings for each dish created the perfect balance as the entrees progressed to heavier plates.

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First-Course: Smoke & Pickles – House cured and smoked fish with housemade Japanese pickles. Cape Canaveral Hog Snapper, Flounder, Faroe Island Salmon – paired with Fruit De La Terre, Saison
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First-Course: Smoke & Pickles – House cured and smoked fish with housemade Japanese pickles. Cape Canaveral Hog Snapper, Flounder, Faroe Island Salmon – paired with Fruit De La Terre, Saison
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Second-Course: Singaporean Style Florida Stone Crab with tomato-chili sauce and fried shallots – paired with Spook Hill Pale Ale, Pale Ale
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Third-Course: Florida Spanish Mackerel Misozuke – paired with Deep Roots, Amber Ale
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Fourth-Course: KFQ (Korean Fried Quail) – served with local grilled corn, salmon skin dust, furikake aioli – paired with Lazer Bullet, Brett Pale Ale
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Fifth-Course: Jackman Farms Wagyu Oxtail – beef consommé, tonkotsu risotto, foie gras shavings – paired with Devil’s Chair IPA
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Sixth-Course: Chinese 5 Spice Ginger Snap and Red Cypress Imperial Stout Ice Cream Sammies – paired with Robust Porter
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Sixth-Course: Chinese 5 Spice Ginger Snap and Red Cypress Imperial Stout Ice Cream Sammies – paired with Robust Porter

Seito Sand Lake
Address: 8031 Turkey Lake Road, Orlando, FL 32819
Phone: 407-248-8888

Red Cypress Brewery
Address: 855 E. State Rd 434 Winter Springs, FL 32708
Phone: 407-542-0341

Experience a multi-course tasting extravaganza with Seito Sushi’s omakase “chef’s choice” dinner menu. Omakase literally means, “It’s up to you,” and the expression is used in restaurants where the chef creates a menu based on the freshest and highest quality ingredients. If you’re up for the adventure, be prepared to experience Seito Sushi’s innovative approach to Japanese cuisine.

In the dining room, you can find a beautiful 10-seat domestic walnut wood table. The “Chef’s Table” has significant meaning to the chef since it was built by Executive Chef Austin Boyd.

“Woodworking, much like cooking, is a labor of love for Austin.”

Photo Credit: Seito Sushi Baldwin Park

 

The omakase “chef’s choice” menu is a six course meal customized with off menu selections. A typical meal will begin with lighter dishes and progress to heavier dishes. Reservations for the omakase menu must be made at least 3 days in advance and are $85 per person (+$30 for wine or sake pairing). You are welcome to sit anywhere in the restaurant to order omakase style.

From the food to the environment, the dining experience at Seito is always enjoyable. At the media dinner with Jason and Sue Chin, I got to hear more about their experience of running a restaurant and admire their strong work ethic while balancing a family. The passion that they have towards food and building the community has really shown in the past few years. It also helps that they have an incredible team and Executive Chef Austin Boyd to take Seito to the next level.

Each dish that was prepared that evening was like a work of art…

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Squid Ink Soba // West coast Uni, Spicy Cod Roe, Cucumber Flowers, Miso Brioche Crumb
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Yellow Tail Belly Nigiri // Bourbon Barrel Aged Soy, Lemon Grass Pesto, Uni Foam, Globe Basil
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Salt & Pepper Soft Shell Crab // Herb Salad from the garden, Nuc Cham Dressing, Garden Peppers, Purple Snow Peas
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Grilled Oysters // Black Bean Pesto, Fried Scallions, Ginger Soy
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Spice Rubber Pork Belly // Honey Glaze, Millet Cake, Peach Jelly, Miso Pickled Quail Egg, Dill Flower
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Shiso Cured Salmon Tartar // Salmon Skin Chip, Caper, Red Onion
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Wagyu Spinalis Negi Maki // Caramelized Onions, Beef Fat Poached Asparagus, Wild Mushrooms, Demi glace, Fiddle Head Ferns
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Lion Fish + Key West Shrimp // Pickled Citrus, Plum wine Marinated Water Mellow, Sea Beans, Tosaka Nori, House Old Bay
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Brown Butter Cake // Cinnamon Basil and Lemon Balm Ice Cream, Carrot Coulis, Ginger Snap Crumble, Basil Flower
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Whiskey Flight

Photos taken by Krystle Nguyen with the Nikon D5000 DSLR and Olympus OM-D E-M10.

Seito Baldwin Park
4898 New Broad Street, Orlando, FL 32814
407-898-8801

Capa steakhouse at Four Seasons Resort Orlando offers a “From Matsusaka With Love” special for Valentine’s Day weekend –

In February 2016, for the first time in history, Matsusaka beef, the ultimate within the Japanese beef industry, will be directly imported from the Matsusaka Region of Mie Prefecture, Japan and introduced at Capa restaurant at Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort.

For six evenings, February 10 to 15, 2016, the Matsusaka beef will be on the menu at Capa in a special tasting called “From Matsusaka with Love.”

Read more from their Press Release below:

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Japanese beef, known as wagyu, is famed for its soft, buttery texture, high marbling ratio and superior taste.

Matsusaka beef from Mie Prefecture has been recognized and honored with the highest rankings for decades in the Japanese beef market. Four Seasons Resort Orlando Executive Sous Chef Sam Faggetti travelled to Japan in March 2015 to learn about Matsusaka beef.

Later this January, Stephen Wancha, Director of Food and Beverage for Four Seasons Resort Orlando, will travel to Japan as well.

“We strive to offer a variety of exceptional meats on the menu at Capa, and our wood burning grill gives our steaks an amazing flavour profile,” says Faggetti. “It has been a privilege to travel to Japan to learn more about the care and preparation of the Matsusaka beef, and we are honoured to offer this special tasting at Capa.”

For six evenings, February 10 to 15, 2016, the Matsusaka beef will be on the menu at Capa in a special tasting called “From Matsusaka with Love.”

The tasting menu is offered for USD 250 per couple, with an optional wine pairing available for USD 75 per person.

The Matsusaka Beef Tasting for Two includes:

– Trio of wood grilled special grade Matsusaka beef: 3-ounce strip loin, tenderloin and ribeye
– Served with side dishes of patatas bravas, blistered pimientos, roasted asparagus and truffle aioli
– Trio of steak sauces: rioja, peppercorn and verde

By definition, Matsusaka beef cattle can only be virgin female cows of the Japanese black wagyu variety that have spent the majority of their lifespan, up until the time of slaughter, in Matsusaka City and its surrounding area and are registered under the Matsusaka Beef Identification and Management System.

Some cattle farmers provide beer to cows to stimulate their appetites and give them thorough massages to improve blood circulation and encourage even fat distribution. Many farms raise their cows in individual rooms so they can be finely managed and assure a comfortable, stress-free life for their cows.

Matsusaka beef producers spare no effort to produce the highest quality, richest, most finely dispersed marbling possible while managing their cows on a day to day basis. The rich marbling results in an exquisite taste.

Reservations to experience the Matsusaka Beef Tasting for Two at Capa can be made by calling 407 313 6161.

Here are some photos from a recent media preview of the Matsusaka Beef Tasting at Capa:

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New York Strip Tataki Nigiri
Filet Flash Seared Sushi Roll
Raw Filet Maki Roll
Hand Roll

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48 Hour Sous Vide Short Rib
Served with a Red Wine Natural Reduction and Baby Tatsoi (Micro Green)

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Grilled New York Strip (left) Filet Ribeye Seasoned with Maldon Salt (middle) Filet Seasoned with Maldon Salt (right)

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Dessert from Assistant Pastry Chef Peter Whitley. An Open Face Macaroon with Green Tea Cream and Raspberry Jelly.

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Staff and chefs of Four Seasons Resort Orlando and Capa

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Best of Orlando award!

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Photos taken by Tasty Chomps! author Gina Nguyen
Photographer at GTNphoto
Book your shoot at http://www.gtnphotography.com

In 2007, David Song, a University of Florida student earning a degree in business administration and philosophy, found his way into the kitchen of an emerging Japanese restaurant called Dragonfly Sushi, working as an entry-level sushi chef at Dragonfly Gainesville.

In 2010, he relocated to Orlando to work at Dragonfly Robata, the brand’s second concept.

Chef David Song
Chef David Song

As an advocate of sustainable practices, Song focuses on imported fish flown in daily from Japan, along with locally-sourced produce when developing new menu items and ideas for the seasonal Omakase menu.

The Omakase–meaning to trust–menu creates meaningful connections with food and beverage choices: It starts with guests trusting in the chefs and bartenders to create selections inspired by their moods.

Today, Song lives up to Dragonfly’s mission of bringing joy and fulfillment to patrons through a full-service dining experience that encompasses the kitchen and bar. When Song isn’t behind the counter, he is traveling to gain inspiration, while eating at local favorites throughout the state of Florida.

What are your favorite dishes at Dragonfly to cook and eat?
Chef David Song: My favorite dish to prepare is our sashimi passion. Sushi was always my first love in the restaurant and this dish gives me the freedom to be creative with my plate up. I spent many years honing my knife skills so when I get an opportunity to display them, I really try to go all out. My favorite dish to eat is our shio saba off the robata grill. The grill is amazing at locking in great flavor and cooks the mackerel to perfection. With a light brush of yuzu butter and daikon oroshi, it’s easily my favorite dish to eat.

Favorite place to eat outside of Dragonfly?
Chef David Song: Does my mother’s house count? Honestly, I enjoy casual dining places because for me, food has always been a reason to gather with friends and family. My favorite place to eat at the moment would probably be Lee and Ricks Oyster Bar.

Upcoming plans include:
New Year’s Eve event
Sushi Classes – December 19, January 23
Valentine’s Day at Dragonfly – Feb 14

Dragonfly is opening up in Doral with a brand new fish market concept inspired by authentic Tsukiji market in Japan.

I’ve been a part of the research and development project –helping where I can with menu items and restaurant build out–but the bulk of the work has really been done by our Culinary Director Chef Ray Leung and our President Hirofumi Leung.

I will be part of the opening team to help train and ensure we develop a great culture so we can provide the most memorable dining experience for our guests.

Interesting Facts?

Chef David Song: I have a hidden passion for motorcycles. I figure everyone has a place to go, so you might as well have a little excitement getting there. I’m also big into do-it-yourself projects. I always try and fix it myself before I call the professionals. I don’t always succeed but I learn a ton.

Lastly, if I could golf everyday, I would. Nothing beats a relaxing day on the golf course with your buddies.

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Dragonfly Robata Grill & Sushi (7972 Via Dellagio Way) will be hosting their second Behind the Knife: Sushi Class on Saturday, December 19.

Priced at $60 per person, guests can expect to learn to roll four different types of sushi rolls with Chef de Cuisine David Song.

During the course, guests will learn about the tools of the trade, both ancient and new.

Chef Song will provide his students with the tips, tricks and techniques it takes to make perfect sushi rice, and how to recognize sushi-grade fish based on color, texture and smell.

Designed to be an experience, a champagne aperitif and floating hors d’oeuvres are included.

The bar will also be available with rare Japanese whiskeys, sake, shochu and any of your favorite cocktails a la carte. Check-in will be at 11:30 a.m. with the class starting at 12 p.m.

Dragonfly Sushi Class

Dragonfly Sushi Class 2

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The original RanGetsu was founded in Tokyo, Japan by Masanori Konaka in 1947 in the very posh district of Ginza. It still exists there today, specializing in shabu shabu (Japnese hot pot or fondue) and sukiyaki made with Kobe beef.

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The restaurant was then passed down to his son, Masayasu Konaka, opening an International Drive branch here in Orlando. A few years ago, the location moved to Maitland’s Lake Lily and is currently managed by Masayasu’s son Mr. Masaaki Konaka today.

Mr. Takashi Kikuchi, General Manager of Rangetsu, can be seen at the restaurant today, and may just come by to your table to see how things are going or help prepare your sukiyaki dish.

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With an increase in incidences of gluten allergies and celiac disease, Rangetsu recently began a gluten free menu option for guests. On a recent visit to the restaurant, we were invited to check out the items on the menu.

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The biggest issue with gluten free items at an Asian restaurant often is the use of soy sauces which often contain gluten. At Rangetsu, the dishes that are gluten free on request are made with gluten free soy sauce, mirin, vinegar, and flour. Fried items, though, are used in a common fryer so is at risk of gluten exposure and is not recommend for those with celiac disease.

Mr. Masaaki Konaka
Mr. Takashi Kikuchi of Rangetsu

The gluten free menu has quite a list of options found here. From sushi rolls to robata teriyaki grill skewers, those looking for gluten free options will find plenty of choices.

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Hamachi Kama

As an appetizer, we recommend the grilled Hamachi Kama. Hamachi Kama is the collar of yellowtail fish (Hamachi) and is often the juiciest part of the fish, kind of like the dark meat of the fish. It’s a delicacy found at most Japanese restaurant but the version found here at Rangetsu is with out a doubt the best hamachi kama in all of Orlando. The collar meat is juicy and cooked perfectly, fresh and flaky white fish.

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The Tempura Appetizer is quite delicious as well, arranged vegetables and jumbo shrimp dipped and fried in a light tempura batter.

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Grilled Teriyaki skewers are popular in Japan, eaten usually as an accompaniment of beer and alcohol at pubs across the nation. At Rangetsu, the robata grill menu are all able to made gluten free, though it is not as marinated due to the lack of soy sauce, and instead seasoned lightly with Hawaiian sea salt. The momo chicken thigh and the enoki mushroom with bacon are popular options.

For something that is both gluten free and rice free, try the naruto roll, made by a cucumber wrap rather than traditional rice and seaweed.

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NARUTO (RAW) 16 – Crab, tuna, yellowtail, salmon and avocado wrapped in cucumber and soy dressing (no sushi rice)

Not many in Orlando have had true sukiyaki beef before. Only a few restaurants serve the dish in the city, with Rangetsu having the definitive version.

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Sukiyaki, not to be confused with the popular Japanese pop ballad from the 1960s, consists of meat (usually thinly sliced beef) which is slowly cooked or simmered in a shallow iron pot, alongside vegetables.

At Rangetsu, the dish is prepared by our server table side who first takes a piece of lard to lather and grease up the iron pot. The beef slices – you can choose black angus New York strip ($30) or Wagyu “Kobe” beef ($46) are added to the pot as it heats up along with vegetables, such as cabbage, tofu, mushrooms, and noodles. Our server then pours over the dish a sweet mixture of soy sauce, sugar, and mirin.

Our server then cracks an egg and beats it in a small bowl, dipping our meat in the eggs raw, giving the meat a nice creamy egg flavor. The sukiyaki dish is exquisite – especially when eating with noodles which soaks up all the sweet and savory flavors from the special soy mirin sauce.

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See our quick video of the Beef Sukiyaki being prepared here:

Rangetsu
901 South Orlando Avenue (17-92), Maitland FL 32751
(407) 345-0044
www.RanGetsu.com

RanGetsu Restaurant & Orchid Lounge Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Umi, located on Park Avenue, across the street from beautiful Rollins College is a Japanese Fusion restaurant that serves up Japanese cuisine, fresh sashimi and sushi, and a array of local drafts, wine, and sake.

We were there on this occasion for a sake presentation by Chad Doss of Stacole Fine Wine Company, as he took us through the night filled with high quality sake.

He first informed us about the process of creating sake, and the various grades of sake based on the milling quality of the rice itself.

It was quite enlightening on the fine art of its production and Jimmy the bar manager, even mentioned that there are even sake made from the water of glaciers.

We learned that the sake that we were to try were of Junmai Ginjo grade (40% of rice milled away) and a much higher quality grade otherwise known as Junmai Daiginjo (50% of rice milled away).

With interesting names of sake like, Bride of the Fox and Snow Maiden for example the various samples that we were given each had their own character whose taste were as beautiful as the names to which they were given.

On top of that, we had samples of the various sushi, sashimi, and robata grill items that Umi serves which were of the best I’ve had in a while. It was an interesting night, to which the takeaway from it was a better understanding of Japanese culture as it applies to painstaking art of sake.

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Very Berry Mojito

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Chad Doss Sake Expert


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Umi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

http://www.umiwinterpark.com/

525 S Park Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789(407) 960-3993

I had a chance to dine with a intimate group of media, Jason, and Sue Chin (the owners of Seito and Osprey Tavern in Baldwin Park) for Seito Baldwin Park’s 15 Year Anniversary.

Honestly, it was one of the best culinary tasting experience I’ve had this year, featuring a 9 course omakase dinner. Omakase means (in a Japanese restaurant) a meal consisting of dishes selected by the chef and literally means “I’ll leave it up to you.”

Here are a few of the dishes from the exceptional 9 course omakase dinner:

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9. Baked Glacier Point oyster – sambal froth, nori butter, black tobiko, almond flour.

It was lightly crispy and so buttery soft…delicious.

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8. Japanese sea bream – pickled sweet peppers, apple, orange gastrique, lemongrass oil.

There’s something about this white fish that makes the ending notes so clean and palatable. You wouldn’t even need ginger to cleanse your palate for the next course.

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7. Pork belly kakuni with braised savoy cabbage, pickled green beans, Japanese mustard.

I could’ve eaten about 9 more of this and gained some kind of cholesterol problem but it will be worth it. This cube of pork belly was so beautifully glazed with a slight hint of Japanese mustard for a hint of tang. It completely melted in your mouth without the unpleasant residue that fat could sometimes leave on your tongue.

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6. Whole roasted Branzino – lime leaf, kyurizuke, barrel-aged white soy, nuoc cham, house sriracha.

Probably my favorite way to enjoy branzino. Seito’s was so simply seasoned that the flesh of the fish really shined. This is definitely a dish to share and enjoy with your table.

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Stuffed with Kaffir lime leaves to rid of the fishy smell and taste.

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Jason was kind enough to help separate the fish for us.

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Never let any part go to waste. ( fish cheeks, eyeballs, and crispy fins are some of my favorites)

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5. Salmon tataki on a bed of daikon nest, relish, fried garlic, dark tosa soy.

Restaurants usually serve tuna tataki since the meat of tuna stays intact when it’s cooked, but salmon’s flaky nature makes that difficult. Seito was decided to challenge that but cutting the sashimi pieces first then taking their time to sear each edge of the salmon. 

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4. Tokyo turnip salad – Okinawa potato puree, caramelized mountain yam, bacon miso dressing.

Jason and his team always manage to impress me with their salads creations. People usually hear the word salad- and think “boring” but that is the complete opposite for this salad. The Okinawa potato was sweet and blended to a perfect puree to harmoniously accompany fresh turnips and yams. 

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3. Beef tenderloin – miso marble potatoes, blistered shishito peppers, ginger-scallion pesto, malbec pho jus.

Wonderfully cooked to a tender medium rare.

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2. Smoked yellowtail toro – uni foam, holy grail, cherry smoke.

The smoke infused flesh of the fish was really bold, however it did not take away from the freshness of the raw fish. 

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1. Kabocha bread pudding – sesame butterscotch, ginger-vanilla creme, pumpkin powder, granola.

I love ending on a sweet note, and this definitely hit the spot without being too sugary. However, I did wanted a side of ice cream to accompany the bread pudding, but that could just be me being basic. 

Everything about Seito’s Sushi new innovations continues to blow me away, from their creative use of the protein to the modern twist on traditional classics.

Unfortunately, not everything from this anniversary dinner course will be available on their regular menu, but it does show the depth and talent that the kitchen and chefs of Seito possess.

I’m really excited to return and enjoy their full Omakase dinner options, I’m sure nothing will be subpar.

Congratulations again to Seito Sushi Baldwin Park on their 15 Year Anniversary!

Seito Sushi Japanese Restaurant
 4898 New Broad St
(407) 898-8801

 

 

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It’s kind of a hidden gem. Deep within Walt Disney World’s Swan and Dolphin resort, you can find Kimonos, a long time favorite for sushi and Japanese cuisine.

The restaurant is accented by dark woods and hanging kimonos, the namesake traditional Japanese robes, each colorful and intricately woven, creating a rather intimate ambiance.

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Sushi is the main attraction here, but the cooked and side dishes might outshine even the sushi if you know what to order. Oh, and a meal here is not inexpensive by any means – may be a preferred location for those expense accounts.

For an appetizer, we recommend the Kobe Beef Tartare and the Kimchee salad. The tartare is served artfully with avocado puree, dashi, and sliced lotus chips – full of flavor and beautifully presented.

The Kimchee salad is a classic dish here at Kimonos – known as kimuchi by the Japanese, kimchee is actually a Korean dish as most folks know by now, but the dish is popular in Japan as well, owing to its long colonial history with Korea and the cultural exchange from that time period. It’s spicy, with lots of heat, yet the octopus makes it refreshing as well.

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Kobe Beef Tartare – Avocado Puree, Ginger, Dashi and Lotus Chips – $17.00

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Kimchee salad – with Octopus, Spring Garlic – $10.50

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Sushi rolls are plenty here, and are rather traditional compared to other locations. The fish quality is excellent. The Kimono is a popular go – to, made with tuna, yellow tail, salmon and a wasabi mayonnaise glaze. On this visit, we go with the coconut shrimp, and dragon roll – both quite tasty.

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Coconut Shrimp Roll – $13.00 and Dragon Roll – Spicy Tuna, Salmon, Avocado – $16.50

Dessert at Kimonos is something you must save room for – the desserts are all beautifully created by Laurent Branlard, executive pastry chef for the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort, who has the distinction as the only two-time winner of the World Pastry Team Championship.

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For those visiting later in the evening for dinner, Kimonos also features another time honored Japanese tradition – nightly karaoke.

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Menu
Menu

Kimonos at the Swan
Address: 1200 Epcot Resorts Blvd, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
http://www.swandolphinrestaurants.com/kimonos/
Hours of Operation
5:30 pm – 11:00 pm

Morimoto Asia, the highly anticipated collaboration between Chef Masaharu Morimoto and Patina Restaurant Group, officially opens for dinner this Wednesday September 30th, 2015 as part of The Landing, one of four neighborhoods in the new Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort.

It is the Japanese master chef’s first pan-Asian dining experience and showcases flavors from across the Asian continent with an emphasis on China, Korea, Japan and Thailand.

Chef Morinoto and Peking duck

The menu is an eclectic take on some of Chef Morimoto’s favorite Asian flavors including L.A. BBQ kalbi ribs, moo shu pork, Morimoto Peking duck, lobster chow fun, sweet and sour crispy whole fish, pho ga, pad Thai, sticky ribs and Singapore laska noodles. Chinese dim sum includes items such as dumplings, shumai, shrimp har-gao and grilled chicken bao.

In addition, the 14-seat sushi bar offers pristine sushi and sashimi options from around the world. Items include toro, kanpachi, Japanese red snapper, uni, sea eel, hamachi, fluke, and salmon, as well as more ocean delicacies. A variety of specialty sushi rolls and selections from the raw bar are also offered to the guests not seated at the sushi counter.

Assorted Sushi

Chef Masaharu Morimoto, most known for his role as Iron Chef Japan, originally began his life as a baseball catcher in Japan before a shoulder injury ended that career and he began his second life by studying sushi in his hometown of Hiroshima.

He quickly grasped the technique of this exacting food art and, at age 24, opened his first restaurant. Five years later, he moved to America to expand his culinary repertoire and explore the opportunities and possibilities he saw for a cuisine that would combine the best of both continents.

In 1994, Morimoto was recruited to join the team at the original Nobu restaurant, and in 2001, he opened his first eponymous restaurant in Philadelphia. He debuted Wasabi by Morimoto at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai in 2004, followed by a second Wasabi at the Taj Palace Hotel in New Delhi in 2008.

Morimoto has received numerous accolades for his cuisine and aesthetic, including several appearances on San Pellegrino’s “Top 100 Restaurants in the World” list, a James Beard Foundation Award for “Outstanding Restaurant Design” for Morimoto New York, and in 2010, Morimoto Napa was named one of Food & Wine magazine’s “Best U.S. Restaurant Openings.”

Today, there are additional Morimoto restaurants in Honolulu, Mexico City, and Maui, a Morimoto Sushi Bar in Boca Raton, Japonais by Morimoto in Chicago and Morimoto South Beach in the Shelborne Wyndham Grand Hotel in Miami. In 2015 and 2016 a few more restaurants will be open in Bangkok, Las Vegas and Toronto.

Morimoto Asia Forbidden Lounge

Patina Restaurant Group (www.patinagroup.com) has a portfolio of restaurants including Tutto Italia Ristorante and Via Napoli at the Epcot World Showcase, as well as Michelin-starred Lincoln Ristorante, STATE Grill and Bar at the Empire State Building, Stella 34 Trattoria at Macy’s Herald Square, The Sea Grill at Rockefeller Center, Brasserie, Brasserie 8 1/2, The Grand Tier Restaurant at the Metropolitan Opera, La Fonda Del Sol at Grand Central, and The Rink at Rockefeller Center.

On the West Coast its portfolio includes the renowned Los Angeles Times’ four-starred and Michelin-starred Patina Restaurant in Walt Disney Concert Hall, Café Pinot, Ray’s & Stark Bar, Catal and Naples in Anaheim’s Downtown Disney District, Leatherby’s Cafe Rouge, and catering and food service in museums and cultural centers throughout California.

Morimoto Asia Private Dining Room

Morimoto Asia’s 36-foot tall, two-story layout has been designed by STUDIO V Architecture, including an exhibition kitchen that allows guests a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the culinary action. The second-level sushi bar and lounge have a separate entrance and is known as the Hidden Lounge.

“This has been a project of passion for our team and Chef Morimoto. We can’t wait to open our doors to everyone visiting Disney Springs this fall and beyond,” said Nick Valenti, restaurateur and CEO of Patina Restaurant Group.

The beers will feature mostly Asian varieties in both bottle and on draft, including the Morimoto signature beer by Rogue Ales. In addition to the collector’s edition Imperial Pilsner and Morimoto Soba Ale and the highly coveted Black Obi Soba will also be available by the bottle.

The restaurant will also offer an assortment of sake, including the Morimoto signature line, plus a wine list showcasing wines of the world, signature cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks.

Chef Morimoto - Vertical

“I am excited to create a menu that allows so many of my favorite Asian flavors to come alive all in one place,” said Chef Masaharu Morimoto. “I hope the guests at Morimoto Asia have as much fun eating this food as I have creating it.”

We had the opportunity to interview Chef Morimoto via e-mail this week ahead of the opening.

TastyChomps: Chef Morimoto, what are you most excited about for the new Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs?

Chef Morimoto: This restaurant has a completely new culinary theme; for the first time I created the menu of Asian cuisine, not just Japanese. As a Japanese, I grew up with eating many different types of Asian cuisine. So I always had all kinds of ideas about Asian cuisine. I am very excited about the new challenge.

TastyChomps: What is your favorite dish so far for the new Morimoto Asia?

Chef Morimoto: I cannot pick a dish, just like you cannot pick your favorite child among your children. All these new dishes are my favorite!

TastyChomps: How did the vision for Morimoto Asia come to be?

Chef Morimoto: It is in Disney, so the target guests are different from those of other Morimoto restaurants. There will be a lot of kids. People will come from all of the world, expecting first-class entertainment. People love Asian food because it’s approachable, delicious, and fun, so I thought the theme would be perfect for the location.

TastyChomps: What is your favorite dish to cook at home?

Chef Morimoto: I never cook at home because my wife does. She cooks mostly vegetables thinking about my health.

TastyChomps: What was your most challenging experience in your cooking career and how did you overcome it?

Chef Morimoto: I enjoy cooking for the guests at the restaurant. However, when I cooked at the Kitchen Stadium for the judges in the original Iron Chef, I was extremely stressed out and nervous. But of course, becoming an Iron Chef changed my career completely.

TastyChomps: Where are your favorite places to visit in Asia and why?

Chef Morimoto: I would like to visit Southeast Asia because there are a lot of interesting and delicious street food. Those dishes inspire me in many ways.

TastyChomps: What do you eat when you are traveling and working?

Chef Morimoto: I try to eat the local food wherever I visit because that’s the best food. If I don’t have the time to eat out, I eat simple food, such as onigiri (rice balls) and miso soup, at my restaurant.

Morimoto Asia will be open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. serving lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch with dim sum. www.morimotoasia.com

Menu and Photos – Courtesy of Morimoto Asia

Sticky Ribs Half Rack
Sticky Ribs Half Rack
Singapore Laska Noodle
Singapore Laska Noodle
Peking Duck
Peking Duck
Orange Chicken
Orange Chicken
LA BBQ Kalbi Ribs
LA BBQ Kalbi Ribs
BowWow Kids Meal
BowWow Kids Meal
MochiMochi Annin Tofu
MochiMochi Annin Tofu

Morimoto Asia Sushi Menu Morimoto Asia Forbidden Lounge Menu Morimoto Asia DINNER Menu

 

click to zoom: http://tastychomps.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Morimoto-Asia-DINNER-Menu.jpgMorimoto Asia Kids Menu Morimoto Asia Dessert Menu

Morimoto Lunch - OCT 2015
Morimoto Asia – Disney Springs – Orlando – Lunch Menu – OCT 2015

Scenes from the Grand Opening event at Morimoto Asia

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Morimoto Asia Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Seito Sushi in Baldwin Park has been working on perfecting their ramen game. Now on Monday nights, from 5pm to close, they are having a hospitality night with half off special pricing on all their ramen so you can enjoy the wonder that is Japanese ramen. This is for all hospitality industry workers and professionals! The ramen, typically $14 for dinner, is $7 and is made with variations such as the tonkotsu, a 24 hour pork bone broth with slices of braised pork belly, and the shoyu, a soy chicken broth base with grilled chicken thighs.

We recently dropped by to try their Tonkotsu Ramen – made with a 24 hour pork broth, and topped with slices of braised pork belly, poached Lake Meadows soy pullet egg, and house made garnish – it was absolutely delicious and I just salivate thinking about it now – really one of the best ramen bowls in town.

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The Pork Tonkotsu Ramen – so delicious.

There is also Shoyu Ramen available, made with Roasted Chicken Stock, and topped with Grilled Chicken Thigh, onsen tomago egg, sweet corn, braised carrots.

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There is an Indonesian spice paste that you can ask for – do ask for it – such wonderful complex flavors that are added to the soup and noodle base.

In addition to ramen, the kitchen at Seito Sushi Baldwin Park has been working on various “new” wave Japanese cuisine, with dishes such as oxtail yakisoba, roasted whole sea bream fish, and this little work of art – the cured salmon dish.

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House Cured Salmon
Ikura Mousse, capers, cucumber, pickled onions

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House fried panko crusted oysters

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Fresh seasonal oysters – delicious

Seito Sushi
4898 New Broad St, Orlando, FL 32814
(407) 898-8801
www.seitosushi.com

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There are tons of great sushi restaurants, okay sushi restaurants, and not so great sushi restaurants here in Central Florida.

So, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite sushi restaurants that I personally recommend based on quality and experience.

In good sushi, I look for fresh fish, flavored quality rice, and overall just tastiness of the dish. Some are traditional Japanese sushi restaurants with minimal rolls, while others have lots of sushi rolls, but done well.

Here is TastyChomps.com’s List of the Top 15 Best Sushi Restaurants in Orlando:

1. Sushi Pop
310 W Mitchell Hammock Rd, Oviedo, FL 32765, (407) 542-5975, www.sushipoprestaurant.com/

2. Kabooki Sushi – 3122 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL 32803, (407) 228-3839, www.kabookisushi.com/


3. Kappo at East End Market – 3201 Corrine Dr, Florida 32789, www.kappoeastend.com/

4. Sushi Tomi – 8463 S John Young Pkwy, Orlando, FL 32819, (407) 352-8635, Facebook Page

5. Seito Baldwin Park – 4898 New Broad St, Orlando, FL 32814, (407) 898-8801, www.seitosushi.com/

6. Shin Sushi – 803 N Orange Ave, Orlando, FL 32801, (407) 648-8000, www.shinsushi.com/

7. Yuki Hana Sushi – 3635 Aloma Ave, Oviedo, FL 32765, (407) 695-8808, sushioviedo.com/

8. Sushi Kichi – 5386 Central Florida Pkwy, Orlando, FL 32821, (407) 778-1953, www.sushikichi.com/

9. Mikado’s – 6417 Raleigh St, Orlando, FL, (407) 822-1080, and 13586 Village Park Dr #306, Orlando, FL, (407) 851-9933, www.mikadosushiorlando.com

Image via Yelp.com
Image via Yelp.com

10. Umi Sushi – 525 S Park Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789, (407) 960-3993, www.umiwinterpark.com/

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11. Sushi House – 8204 Crystal Clear Ln #1300, Orlando, FL 32809, (407) 610-5921, www.sushihouseint.com/

Image courtesy of Sushi House

12. Hanamizuki – 8255 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819, (407) 363-7200, www.hanamizuki.us/

13. Sushi Lola’s – 2902 Corrine Dr, Orlando, FL 32803, (407) 898-5652, www.sushilolas.com/

Image via Yelp.com
Image via Yelp.com

14. Shari Sushi Lounge – 621 E Central Blvd, Orlando, FL 32801, (407) 420-9420, www.sharisushilounge.com/

Image via Shari Sushi Lounge
Image via Shari Sushi Lounge

15. Shakai Sushi Lounge – 43 E Pine St, Orlando, FL 32801, (407) 423-2688, www.shakaiorlando.com

Image via Yelp.com
Image via Yelp.com

Did we miss any of your favorites? Comment and let us know below!

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I was invited to Dragonfly last week to try out a few items that are featured in the Robata Grill section of the menu.

Robata method for cooking has been growing popular exponentially, however, Orlando is still new to style. To put it simply, Robata (short for Robatayaki) is a Japanese grilling style  that roughly translates to ” fireside-cooking”.

What’s amazing about Dragonfly’s Robata grill is that they import specialize coal from Japan, the Bincho-tan. Which is a white coal with the raw material being oak, this emits less carbon and is able to retain 1000 degrees in heat for a long time.

With such an unique grill, the seasoning for the meats and vegetables are really simple- a little salt, a little pepper, and some tare/teriyaki glaze. This allows the true flavors of the grill items to really be enhanced.

DSC01052Chicken thigh (6)

Chicken usually just taste like…..chicken….unless being thrown into a ton of spices and dipped in gallons of sauce. However, this skewered chicken thigh had natural sweetness that’s been drawn out by the light dash of salt, and incredibly tender. I was thoroughly impressed by the chef’s ability to time it on such a high heat grill.

A Shade of Blackberry (10)
Hatsumago Kimoto Sake, Blackberry gastrique, and ginger syrup.
A sweet summer drink, refreshing, light, with a little tang of ginger that pairs so beautifully with the chicken.

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Tontoro (7)

Pork cheeks, with a side of sesame oil and salt. You’ve probably had the korean barbeque pork belly- well, this is the spruced up version of it. It has a pleasant texture, soft, but there’s a bit of crunch towards the end bite.

Hot Kagoshima Daze (10)
kaikouzu Kurikogane Shochu, fig-infused bourbon, lillet blanc, togarashi syrup.
My guest really enjoyed this drink. The strong bourbon flavors, with a little bit of spice towards the end. Perfect to cut through the pork fat.

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Corn (5)

Sweet corn. Reminds me of the Mexican corn on the cob (elote) that you find from street vendors. Grilled, with spicy seasoning, sharp parmesan cheese, and cilantro.

Shochu Mojito (10)

I was a baby and couldn’t handle the taste of bourbon so they brought me a mojito instead. This muddled-cherries mojito gave a little twist to the classic mojito, a little tangier but you still get the sweet and refreshing notes.

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Enoki Mushrooms (6)

Stringy white mushrooms, with subtle flavors so the bacon adds a nice touch.

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Whole grilled Branzino

European sea bass, with a ginger scallion pesto on top. The entire fish is grilled and glazed in yuzu butter. Light, savory, and juicy…. we couldn’t stop eating it.

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We ended with a summer special dessert- matcha pound cake with blueberry jam.

A a little Q&A with one of the grill masters, Jeff :

How long did it take you get used to the Robata Grill?
It took me a month in training.

What would you say is the most challenging thing about the Robato grill?
Timing, because the grill is so hot it can overcook easily.

What’s the biggest difference from a regular grill and the Robata Grill?
The coal, the special bincho-tan coal really makes a difference.

Dragonfly Robata Grill & Sushi

7972 Via Dellagio Way, Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 370-3359

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 Umi is a new Japanese Fusion restaurant in Park ave. and like every other Japanese Restaurant, Umi offers sushi, sashimi, seafood etc… However, Umi strives  to use traditional Japanese cooking in combination with influences from various cuisine to offer modern creations without disregarding the authentic Japanese taste.

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Sweet Ebi, Fresh Salmon, and thinly sliced Octopus
a simple selection of sashimi pieces marinated in a dijon ponzu sauce.

DSC00941Cured Snapper
Thinly sliced cured snapper with truffle ume vinaigrette, shiso, onion, and micro greens.

Aside from their fresh selection of seafood, Umi features Robatayaki Grilled meats and homemade sauces- a cooking method that Florida is not familiar with. Similiar to barbecue, but smokeless and odorless. Food items are skewered and slow-grilled over hot charcoal. This allows the meats or vegetables to absorb in the intense smoky flavors of the charcoal.

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Ribeye Gorgonzola Flat Bread (8)
Flat bread, yakiniku ribeye, sauteed white kimchi, gorgonzola cheese, black vinaigrette reduction.
This was definitely an addicting tapa dish. You have the tender steak, with a sharp cheese, and a crispy finish with the toasted flatbread.

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Skirt Steak (14)
Seared with balsamic teriyaki glaze. Grilled to a tender medium that’s slightly sweet with a nice char.
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Pork Belly (7) 
Thick cut pork belly that’s seared with a house butakakuni- marinade ( usually soy sauce and dashi) that’s melt-in-your mouth tender.
DSC00992Squid (9) 
Whole squid brushed with yuzu butter and seared. For those afraid to try squid or dislike squid due to its elastic texture or fishy smell…I recommend trying squid again in this kind of way. The squid is incredibly soft, and full of buttery, smoky flavours.

 

Another feature from Umi that I was really impressed with was their selection of imported beers.

DSC00955Koshihikari Echigo Beer
is a Japanese Rice Lager style beer brewed by Uehara Shuzou Co. Ltd.
light malt flavours, with hints of sake/ sweet rice taste.

DSC00985Hitachino Dai Dai Ale
is a American IPA style beer brewed by Kiuchi Brewery in Ibaraki-ken Naka-gun, Japan.
Pours out a deep amber color, a smooth ending with a hint of caramel/toffee flavours. I’m not a fan of IPA but this one has got me to tolerate IPA a little more.

DSC00978Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout
is a American Double / Imperial Stout style beer brewed by Kiuchi Brewery in Ibaraki-ken Naka-gun, Japan
A wonderful beer for dark beer advocates. There’s strong coffee smell and taste, followed by bitterness but not unpleasant.

Umi just recently opened (may 7th, 2015) but they offer everything from fresh sushi and fresh seafood to robata grilled meats and master confected sushi rice.  The tapas style menu is intended for diners to sample all kinds of food and explore new tastes.

Umi – Winter Park

525 S Park Ave
Winter Park, FL
(407) 960-3993

Click to add a blog post for Umi on Zomato

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Hidden in a rather desolate plaza on Universal Blvd, Japan Food Aki is a good introduction restaurant to Japanese home cooking. They’ve got the sushi rolls and nigiri, as well as the various pork and beef katsu curry dishes popular in Japanese cuisine.

In the 1800s, the Japanese were on their way to modernization and were enamored with the curries brought overseas to them by the Dutch via the Indian colonies. It became a national hit along with the fried pork cutlets (katsu) in the 1900s.

The sushi quality might not be the best in town, but the value is there – especially for happy hour, which lasts from 5:30pm – 6:30pm weekdays with rolls that can be found for $2.50 and nigiri sushi for $1.00 a piece.

It is a good place to start for your exploration and journey into Japanese cuisine.

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Click to add a blog post for Japan Food Aki Restaurant on Zomato

Kappo at East End Market is one of Orlando’s best sushi restaurants, yet also one of the most hidden.

Founded by college friends Mark, Lo, and Jen – all graduates of UF – they all traveled the world from New York to London to Tokyo to learn from the masters and now, they are back here in Orlando, having opened up this small 7 seat sushi bar inside the wonderful East End Market in Audubon Park.

The 7 seat bar is intimate – you can watch each of the chefs work attentively on their dishes, giving great care and respect to each piece of nigiri sushi.

Dinner is reservations only, while lunch is available for walk-ins.

The dinner experience is unique – omakase style, which means chef’s choice, with the best fish of the day prepared piece by piece like a scene out of Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Sushi as art – and it is as delicious to eat as it is beautiful.

For lunch, we recommend their transcendent chirashi bowl, or a plate of nigiri sushi, ending with a savory cup of miso soup or some house made Japanese inspired ice cream.

I made a short film of a recent visit here:

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Yuki Hana Japanese Fusion, in Oviedo, just off of Aloma at Tuskawilla, serves Japanese modern cuisine with a fresh twist on classic dishes and a vast selection of delectable sushi, fresh sashimi, and signature rolls created by chef and owner Eddison Chen.

Yuki Hana Fusion’s menu represents chef Eddison’s nearly 15 years of experience including many years working with some of the best Japanese master sushi chefs in New York – where followers there have said Eddie “is devoted to maintaining the purity of his vision—-that is not to be simply good but transcendent.”

We were recently invited to visit the modern and sleek Yuki Hana to sample some of their dishes and were quite surprised and delighted by what they had to offer, a step above the typical sushi places in the area for sure. I would say it ranks among the best in Orlando in terms of its quality and taste.

We started with a glass of the Bunraku Kinmai “Dancing Gold Flakes” sake, while the gold flakes are believed to “enhance good fortune”, the sake itself had a smooth, rich flavor, slightly sweet and one of the best sake I have had the pleasure to taste.

Geoduck is in season and chef Chen made great use of the ingredient in two dishes sampled this evening. Also known as giant clam, the geoduck is a very large, edible, saltwater clam native to western United States. Distinctively shaped similar to the male genital, the geoduck can go for $150/lb in Asia where it is a delicacy.

We started with a geoduck miso soup made with both geoduck and little clams, as well as enoki and shitake mushroom. The soup was rich and flavorful, and had the mushroom and clam textures went well together.

Next, the geoduck served two ways – tempura and sashimi style with an orange lemon confit, crispy and soft – very good.

Uni was also in season – sea urchin is creamy and custardy and is often an acquired taste, but can be very wonderful if served fresh as it is here at Yuki Hana with a topping of quail egg.

Some Asian – Latin fusion is also present here at Yuki Hana, executed well with dishes like the Oxtail tempura avocado taco with a Korean spicy gochujang pickle sauce.

They’ve recently updated the menu, adding dishes like the Kanpachi Crudo with Hawaii yellowtail, black garlic, basil oil, tobiko, cucumber, lava salt, lemon confit, and togarashi and the Madai, Japanese sea bream with mango, avocado, cilantro, mustard seed vinaigrette, shallot chips, and furikake

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Geoduck miso soup made with both geoduck and little clams, as well as enoki and shitake mushroom.

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Geoduck Two ways

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Oxtail tacos – braised oxtail, house Asian slaw, tempura avocado, gochujang pepper sauce, cilantro, lime wedge

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Fresh, live uni sea urchin – available now in winter season – served here with raw quail egg.

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Nigiri sampling – fresh sushi topped with lovely accoutrements

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Dessert is handled here by Chef Eddison’s gracious wife Ping, who has picked up quite the skillset of pastry and dessert making from her travels around the world. The banana bread pudding I sampled was crispy, crunchy and delicately soft and sweet at the same time – definitely one of the best desserts I’ve had in Orlando. Photo Dec 11, 7 35 30 PM

Do visit Yuki Hana in Oviedo soon, for the lovely ambiance, fresh and innovative sushi and kitchen dishes, as well as wonderful desserts – I know I will be returning very soon!

Yuki Hana Japanese Fusion on Urbanspoon

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Ajinomoto Pork and Vegetable Pot Stickers (Gyoza) are one of my favorite things to make when I am in a rush – they’re tasty, easy to make, and only take a few minutes to cook.

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The dumpling was first created in Northern China about 1300 years ago, and the Japanese term “Gyoza” comes from the Chinese name “Jiao-zi.”

The dumplings became popular in Japan particularly after World War II when returning Japanese brought back their love of the dish after returning from their rather devastating occupation of China.

In Japan, Gyoza are pan-fried while in China they are more commonly steamed or boiled. They’re popular around Chinese New Year time because the shape is similar to gold ingots or taels, and who (especially among the Chinese) doesn’t love gold?

Ajinomoto, the food company who brought MSG and the flavor of “umami” to the world back in 1909,  produces about 800,000,000 pieces of gyoza each year.

These crescent shaped dumplings are crispy on the bottom, yet also somehow juicy on the inside.

My first encounter with Japanese gyoza was on a recent visit to Tokyo where, in the rather haute Ginza district, I stumbled upon TenRyu ( Address: 2-6-1 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, Website: http://bimi.jorudan.co.jp/shop/1022/), a Japanese/Chinese restaurant – whose name not surprisingly translates to “Sky Dragon”, yes we love our dragons no matter where our restaurants are in the world. This little Beijing style restaurant founded in 1949 was famed for making their jumbo gyoza stuffed with pork, fresh Chinese cabbage, and onion, of which they apparently sell 5000 a day.

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TenRyu’s dumplings were literally the size of my handDSC08473

 

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Directions
1. Place gyoza dumplings in a non-stick pan. Add 2 oz water (no oil needed)
2. Cover with lid and cook for approximately 5 minutes.
3. Remove lid and cook until bottom is golden brown.
4. Serve while hot

Apparently, the Ajinomoto folks have created a new gyoza product with “EZ-ice” where you don’t even have to add the water for added convenience. Great for camping, I think.

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Sapporo Ramen is one of my favorite places for Japanese ramen noodle soup here in Orlando. After having visited Tokyo and trying some of the most popular ramen shops there, I can comfortably say that Sapporo Ramen is among the most authentic ramen in town, and rivals some of what I tasted in Japan.

Sapporo is a city on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, known for their cold weather, the home of the Sapporo Brewery, and the founding place of the miso ramen.

Miso ramen became popular around 1965, featuring a broth that combines copious amounts of miso and is blended with oily chicken or fish broth – and sometimes with tonkotsu or lard – to create a thick, nutty, slightly sweet and very hearty soup.

The Spicy Miso Ramen
The Spicy Miso Ramen

Miso ramen broth tends to have a robust, tangy flavor, so it stands up to a variety of flavorful toppings: spicy bean paste, butter and corn, leeks, onions, bean sprouts, ground pork, cabbage, sesame seeds, white pepper, and chopped garlic are common. The noodles are typically thick, curly, and slightly chewy.

Recently, Sapporo Ramen introduced a new spicy miso ramen along with a curry noodle ramen to their line up of ramen which includes tonkatsu, miso, and shoyu. I found it to be quite flavorful, with just enough spice to be not overwhelming, and great when paired with the sweet corn and salty bamboo shoots.

Another thing I like about Sapporo is their variety of Japanese street food items offered from the takoyaki octopus balls topped with quivering bonito flakes to the imagawayaki desserts, a pancake like bun filled with sweet bean paste.

Creamy Pork Tonkotsu Ramen
Creamy Pork Tonkotsu Ramen
The Kitsune Udon topped with fried tofu skin
The Kitsune Udon topped with fried tofu skin
Imagawayaki dessert
Imagawayaki dessert

Sapporo Ramen
5080 W Colonial Dr
Orlando, Florida
(407) 203-6777
Tue – Sun: 11:30 am – 8:00 pm
Check out their facebook page at Sapporo Ramen

Seito Sushi in Baldwin Park is easily one of my favorite sushi restaurants in town – with fresh seafood and quality ingredients, as well as gorgeous settings, they have always been on top of their game here in Orlando.

Recently, Jason Chin, the proprietor of Seito Sushi in Baldwin Park, along with new chef Austin Boyd, have crafted a re-working of the lunch menu at Seito to showcase the talent of both the kitchen and sushi offerings and take the restaurant to the next level, emphasizing freshness and seasonality with a menu that changes often.

SONY DSCMr. Chin and Seito Sushi graciously hosted our small group of foodies from the Orlando Foodie Forum facebook group to try a few of their new lunch menu that just rolled out. Overall, we were impressed by what we found.

Chef Austin Boyd with Seito Sushi owner Jason Chin
Chef Austin Boyd with Seito Sushi owner Jason Chin

From new ramen dishes to braised beef buns, the menu exhibits creativity and experimentation with many things that work. One of the most controversial decisions on the new menu has been, surprisingly, the removal of the bento box options, which would allow the kitchen to focus more on the new dishes, but also has turned off some customers who looked forward to the combination lunch boxes. Change is always hard at first, but they hope that with time the lunch crowd will grow to love the new menu.

Housemade dumplings with chopped apple
Housemade dumplings with chopped apple

The tonkotsu pork ramen, dumplings, and the ceviche roll were standouts from our group.

Three ramen options are available on the menu – the tonkotsu pork ramen which features crispy braised pork belly, soy egg, and house pickled ginger; the shoyu ramen, a soy sauce chicken broth based ramen with chicken thigh; and the gyu ramen, beef pho based broth (yes, some Vietnamese influences there) with cilantro oil, beef brisket, and sprouts.

I really enjoyed the tonkotsu pork ramen’s crispy pork belly which had a nice crunch to it, though the ginger could have been more pickled.

The tonkotsu pork ramen which features crispy braised pork belly, soy egg, and house pickled ginger
The tonkotsu pork ramen which features crispy braised pork belly, soy egg, and house pickled ginger
The shoyu ramen, a soy sauce chicken broth based ramen with chicken thigh
The shoyu ramen, a soy sauce chicken broth based ramen with chicken thigh
The gyu ramen, beef pho based broth with cilantro oil, beef brisket, and sprouts
The gyu ramen, beef pho based broth with cilantro oil, beef brisket, and sprouts

Some mixed reviews on the curry braised beef bao buns, which may work better with crispy pork belly filling instead of the wetter beef.

Curry braised beef bao buns
Curry braised beef bao buns
The salmon ceviche nigiri with citrus cured salmon, a refreshing highlight with wonderful lime and citrus zest flavors
The salmon ceviche nigiri with citrus cured salmon, a refreshing highlight with wonderful lime and citrus zest flavors
The Orlando Foodie Forum - Join us soon!
The Orlando Foodie Forum – Join us on facebook!

The new lunch menu is available now at Seito Sushi in Baldwin Park, and changes often. New rollouts will be coming soon this spring, and we have also received news that the upcoming Osprey Tavern will open in early 2015 as well. Lots of changes, for the better, in little Baldwin Park.

Here’s a look at their lunch menu (changes daily):

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Gyudon, literally beef bowl, is a popular Japanese dish consisting of a bowl of rice topped with beef and onion simmered in a mildly sweet sauce flavored with dashi (fish and seaweed stock), soy sauce and mirin (sweet rice wine).

In 1899 Eikichi Matsuda opened the first Yoshinoya restaurant, at the fish market in Tokyo’s Nihonbashi district.

Gyudon can be found in many Japanese restaurants and some fast food chains specialize exclusively in the dish. The largest gy?don fast food chains in Japan are Chikara Meshi, Yoshinoya Matsuya, and Sukiya.

Last year, during our visit to Tokyo, we visited one of the many chains available around the city and absolutely loved the sweet and salty flavors of the simple beef rice bowl.

At Chikara Meshi, the bowls were about 300 yen (a little less than $3 USD) and came with a few tasty slices of gyu beef over rice. You ordered at the machine – a vending touch screen – and are issued a ticket receipt. After a few moments, a attendant brings out the bowl orders for your party at the bar stool dining area.

Locally in Orlando, folks can get their gyudon fix on at any number of the Japanese restaurants around town, but I particularly recommend the renditions at Sapporo Ramen, Aki of Japan, Sushi Tomi, Hanamizuki, and Sushi Kichi.

Shibuya - One of Tokyo's busiest wards
Shibuya – One of Tokyo’s busiest wards
Tokyo Chikara Meshi
Tokyo Chikara Meshi
Tokyo Chikara Meshi
Tokyo Chikara Meshi
Dining area inside Tokyo Chikara Meshi
Dining area inside Tokyo Chikara Meshi
Tokyo Chikara Meshi
Tokyo Chikara Meshi
Vending / Touchscreen Ordering machine atTokyo Chikara Meshi
Vending / Touchscreen Ordering machine atTokyo Chikara Meshi
The beef bowl
The beef bowl
Gyudon beef rice bowl at Tokyo Chikara Meshi
Gyudon beef rice bowl at Tokyo Chikara Meshi
Corn sides
Corn sides

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They also serve mapo tofu bowls
They also serve mapo tofu bowls
Yoshinoya another beef bowl chain
Yoshinoya another beef bowl chain
Matsuya
Matsuya

Ingredients

1 medium onion
10-12oz (300-350g) beef, thinly sliced
(you can get the hot pot beef sliced at 1st Oriental or 1st Spring Market in Orlando)
1 1/2 cup Dashi
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp sugar
2 1/2 Tbsp Mirin
2 1/2 Tbsp Sake
2 tsp ginger, grated
1/2 Tbsp Salt
White Pepper
pickled red ginger (Benishouga)
steamed rice

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Instructions

Slice onion thinly, and cut sliced beef in 2″ width.

Boil Dashi in a pot and add sliced onion.

Cook for 3-4 minutes.

Add soy sauce, sugar, salt, and Sake and cook another 3-4 minutes.

Add grated ginger and pepper to taste.

Add sliced beef in pot and stir.

Cook about 5 minutes.

Pour meat and sauce over rice and top with pickled red ginger.

Add egg over easy if desired to rice.

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Kimonos for sale at this booth

The Orlando Japan Festival is an annual event put on by the Japan Association of Orlando, the local Orlando Japanese community, and is one of my favorite events of the year – where you can have a taste of the street food from Japan like takoyaki octopus balls to gyu don beef rice bowls, and of course sushi, all while enjoying traditional Japanese cultural entertainment. It’s a wonderful event to take the whole family.

The event, which was once hosted at the Rangetsu building on International Drive, is now put on at the Hunter’s Creek plaza just south of SR 417 on John Young Parkway for the past few years.

There are amazing traditional performances like the 100 Drummers taiko performance performed by Matsuriza of the Disney Epcot Japan Pavilion, Koto (Japanese harp player), traditional Japanese Dance, Tsugaru-Shamisen, the age-old iconic Tea Ceremony (symbolic of Japan’s oldest traditions), Japanese Calligraphy (shodo), Martial Arts demonstrations, as well as a chance to try-out real Japanese Kimonos.

My favorite aspect of the festival is the many Japanese Food Stalls staffed by the local Japanese restaurant community including Rangetsu, Sushi Tomi, Japan Food Aki, the Disney Epcot Japan Pavilion’s Mitsukoshi, and more.

For more information, visit: http://www.jorlando.org/14-japan-fest.html

Below are a few photos from the event:

Japanese Books on sale at the Festival
Japanese Books on sale at the Festival
Visitors purview the selection of books
Visitors purview the selection of books
A young samurai in training with his friend
A young samurai in training with his friend
JTB Travel Agency here in Orlando for all your Japan travel needs http://online.jtbusa.com/
JTB Travel Agency here in Orlando for all your Japan travel needs http://online.jtbusa.com/
JTB Travel Agency http://online.jtbusa.com/
JTB Travel Agency http://online.jtbusa.com/
Mr. Harris Rosen of Rosen Hotels welcomes guests to the Orlando Japan Festival
Mr. Harris Rosen of Rosen Hotels welcomes guests to the Orlando Japan Festival
Mr. Rosen donated $100,000 to Japan in 2011 after the Tsunami
Mr. Rosen, a huge supporter of the local community, including the Japanese, donated $100,000 to Japan in 2011 after the Tsunami
Mr. Rosen donated $100,000 to Japan in 2011 after the Tsunami
Mr. Harris Rosen of Rosen Hotels
A young samurai getting geared up
A young samurai getting geared up
Samurai gear in show
Samurai gear in show
Japanese street food - includes a fish shaped mung bean dessert, squid, octopus balls
Japanese street food – includes a fish shaped mung bean dessert, squid, octopus balls
Japanese street food - includes a fish shaped mung bean dessert, squid, octopus balls
Japanese street food – includes a fish shaped mung bean dessert, squid, octopus balls
Grilled squid
Grilled squid
Kimonos for sale at this booth with Izumi and Yuni Sakurada and friends
Kimonos for sale at this booth with Izumi and Yuni Sakurada and friends
Wild Jack Horse Mackerel Nigiri Sushi from Mitsukoshi of Epcot's Japan Pavilion
Wild Jack Horse Mackerel Nigiri Sushi from Mitsukoshi of Epcot’s Japan Pavilion
Mitsukoshi team of Epcot's Japan Pavilion
Mitsukoshi team of Epcot’s Japan Pavilion
Palm reading at the Orlando Japan Festival
Palm reading at the Orlando Japan Festival

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Matsuriza Taiko Drum Team
Matsuriza Taiko Drum Team
Rangetsu of Maitland team
Rangetsu of Maitland team
Foods from Rangetsu!
Foods from Rangetsu!
Aki of Japan on International Drive - Selling their Curry Rice!
Aki of Japan on International Drive – Selling their Curry Rice!
Chika - Aki of Japan on International Drive - Selling their Curry Rice!
Chika – Aki of Japan on International Drive – Selling their Curry Rice!
Aki of Japan on International Drive - Selling their Curry Rice!
Aki of Japan on International Drive – Selling their Curry Rice!
Kiko Japanese of Melbourne
Kiko Japanese of Melbourne
Mochi rice balls
Mochi rice balls
Okonomiyaki
Okonomiyaki
Chef Hidehiko of Sushi Tomi on John Young and Sand Lake selling onigiri, futomaki sushi
Chef Hidehiko of Sushi Tomi on John Young and Sand Lake selling onigiri, futomaki sushi
Chef Hidehiko with his wife Reiko of Sushi Tomi!
Chef Hidehiko with his wife Reiko of Sushi Tomi!
Chef Hidehiko with his wife Reiko of Sushi Tomi!
Chef Hidehiko with his wife Reiko of Sushi Tomi!
Mikado Sushi of Hunter's Creek
Mikado Sushi of Hunter’s Creek
No-Face (???? kaonashi, lit. "faceless"), a spirit in the Japanese animated film Spirited Away
No-Face (???? kaonashi, lit. “faceless”), a spirit in the Japanese animated film Spirited Away
No-Face (???? kaonashi, lit. "faceless"), a spirit in the Japanese animated film Spirited Away
No-Face (???? kaonashi, lit. “faceless”), a spirit in the Japanese animated film Spirited Away

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Green Tea Ceremony with Mr. Harris Rosen
Green Tea Ceremony with Mr. Harris Rosen
Green Tea Ceremony with Mr. Harris Rosen
Green Tea Ceremony with Mr. Harris Rosen
Asia Trend Magazine booth
Asia Trend Magazine booth
The Food Court is packed
The Food Court is packed

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Cosplay, a popular form of expression through costume at the Japan Festival
Cosplay, a popular form of expression through costume at the Japan Festival
Junichi and Mimi
Junichi and Mimi
Kid's games at the festival
Kid’s games at the festival
Cosplay, a popular form of expression through costume at the Japan Festival
Cosplay, a popular form of expression through costume at the Japan Festival
Cosplay, a popular form of expression through costume at the Japan Festival
Cosplay, a popular form of expression through costume at the Japan Festival
Cosplay, a popular form of expression through costume at the Japan Festival
Cosplay, a popular form of expression through costume at the Japan Festival
Young Japanese girls in Kimono
Young Japanese girls in Kimono
Matsuriza Taiko drumming team
Matsuriza Taiko drumming team

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RA Sushi has branched out all over the states. It’s the 1st in Orlando, 4th in Florida and 26th in the United States. The RA Sushi located in Orlando can hold up to 260 guests and provides Happy Hour (4-7pm Mondays-Fridays) throughout the entire restaurant instead of just at the bar like some places.

Although it just opened July 30th in Orlando, They are already dishing out a new menu, in addition to their current offerings that consist of over 100 dishes and 150 drink specialties that are mainstream and originally created at RA Sushi. When I say “mainstream”, they still have an RA twist on them to make you feel like you can’t find anything like it anywhere else.

On September 10, 2014, we were invited to Ra Sushi to preview and experience a number of delicious items ranging from appetizers to desserts.

If you have an allergy, they’ll be sure to keep you from contacting any dish that contains those ingredients (ie, me from eating anything coming into contact with shrimp or items that have touched shrimp).

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To start with, we were served Garlic Edamame, which are steamed soybeans sautéed in a garlic butter and Asian seasoning. Not only were the shelling seasoned, it seems as though the flavors seeped in and also came from the soybeans themselves.

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RA’llipop* is a roll that consisted of raw tuna, salmon, yellowtail, spicy tuna mix, lettuce, asparagus, and cucumber wrapped in lobok. It’s served skewered with a garlic ponzu sauce. The entire roll will melt in your mouth. You’ll only realized that you ate something because of the crunch provided by the vegetables the fish is encased by as well as a hint of spicy from the tuna mix.

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The Viva Las Vegas Roll* is a popular item on the menu. Ingredients: Kani kama crab and cream cheese rolled in rice and seaweed, lightly tempura battered, and topped with spicy tuna, kani kama crab mix and sliced lotus root; finished with a sweet eel sauce and spinach tempura bits. The lotus root has a nice crunch but is dense and had a little heat. The crab and spicy tuna mix is smooth and creamy to provide a contrast to the lotus root. Unfortunately, I was unable to try the roll itself because it contained shrimp, but my colleagues seemed to love it and didn’t leave a single roll on the plates they came on.

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The Yellow Monkey Roll is a vegetarian friendly roll that is nice and tropically refreshing. It is made up of mango, roasted red pepper, marinated artichoke, and cream cheese rolled in rice and seaweed, topped with mango and cashews before drizzled with a kiwi wasabi sauce.

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The Crazy Monkey Roll is one of my favorites and is creamy from the salmon, cream cheese and avocado. The sweet sauce drizzled on top added a nice surprise to the roll itself. This is a little different to the Yellow Monkey Roll because it is made up of smoked salmon, mango and cream cheese topped with avocado, red beet tempura bits and cashews, then drizzled with mango and sweet eel sauces.

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The Lobster Shrimp Roll is another roll I unfortunately could not try, but I visually enjoyed the heart shape roll as it came out. Ingredients: lobster, cucumber and avocado rolled and topped with shrimp; served with an Asian pesto sauce.

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After sushi, we took a break from eating to enjoy Sake Flight 8 that consists of three 2 oz. pours of Kizakura “Pure”, Sho Chiku Bai Nigori “Crème de Sake” and Kizakura “Pure” Stars – range from sweet, dry to sparkling.

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The Tuna2 Salad is a refreshing dish with two types of tuna: ahi and albacore. It was a mixture of different textures ranging from smooth to crunch thanks to the variety of ingredients. Ingredients: seared ahi and albacore tuna drizzled with a garlic ponzu sauce, placed over a bed of mixed greens with sliced avocado, jalapeño, cilantro, fried wontons and cashews; served with an onion soy vinaigrette.

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The first entrée was the Spicy Chicken Teriyaki Udon, which is stir-fried Asian vegetables tossed with chicken and udon noodles in a spicy teriyaki sauce. For you chopstick experts, even you may wish to use a fork for this meal because of how slippery the udon is! The sauce the udon is dressed with isn’t overpowering and adds the right amount of flavor to each noodle and vegetable that will please your palate.

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The Chicken Katsu is usually a favorite for children and adults whether they don’t wish to have any sushi or if they want something Southern, but with an Asian twist. Panko breaded chicken with coleslaw is served with an Asian BBQ dipping sauce. With or without the Asian BBQ sauce, the chicken was marvelous and I’m drooling over the thought at the moment.

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The Bara Chirashi Bowl* is a bowl of rice topped with tuna, salmon, yellowtail, shrimp, avocado, and cucumber with Asian green vegetables dressed with poki sauce. This is like sushi in a bowl that can deliciously fill your stomach so you can continue on with your productive day!

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Last, but not least, the dessert served was Banana Split Maki. It is RA’s version of sushi for dessert that consists of a fried banana maki topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit drizzled with raspberry and chocolate sauces.

*As mentioned on the RA Sushi website, “consuming raw or under cooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish or eggs may increase your risk of food borne illness, especially if you have certain medical conditions”.
More dishes and information can be found on www.rasushi.com. You could also join their email list and Get Hooked Up! They’ll give you a $20 RA gift certificate every year during the month of your Half Birthday as well as something special the month of your actual birthday!

Location: 9101 International Drive Suite 1008, Orlando, FL 32819
Hours: 11am-11pm daily with lunch served until 3pm

RA Sushi Bar Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Kappo Chirashi, a sushi rice bowl topped with delicate uni, slices of snowy grouper, salmon, tuna, ikura, roasted okra, simmered aubergine, gobo, takuan, nori, red round radish, snap peas, and sugar peas

Kappo at East End, the newest member of Audubon Park’s East End Market, is a Japanese shop featuring fresh sushi rolls, handmade desserts, and a fabulous omakase lunch / dinner, served barside.

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Kappo is run by partners and young chefs Mark Berdin, Lordfer Lalicon, pastry chef Jennifer Banagale, who hope to showcase the best of Japanese inspired cuisine through the use of locally sourced ingredients as well as the bounty from East End Market’s own urban farm. Depending on the season and catches, fish and shellfishes serve at Kappo will constantly be changing, limited to three types a day.

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Right now, the menu consists mostly of sushi, sashimi, chirashi, rice balls – onigiri, and desserts, but they hope to add noodles (ranging from udon, soba, somen, and to homemade noodle dishes), donburi, and other Japanese fare soon.

With only a limited 7 seats at the bar, Kappo also offers a multi course, Omakase format, dinners at night time starting at 6 PM on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights for $75 per person.

Kappo will also be doing special events and dinners at the event space at East End throughout the year.

We recently dropped by for lunch and fell in love with the Kappo Chirashi, a sushi rice bowl topped with delicate uni, slices of snowy grouper, salmon, tuna, ikura, roasted okra, simmered aubergine, gobo, takuan, nori, red round radish, snap peas, and sugar peas.

Kappo Chirashi, a sushi rice bowl topped with delicate uni, slices of snowy grouper, salmon, tuna, ikura, roasted okra, simmered aubergine, gobo, takuan, nori, red round radish, snap peas, and sugar peas
Kappo Chirashi, a sushi rice bowl topped with delicate uni, slices of snowy grouper, salmon, tuna, ikura, roasted okra, simmered aubergine, gobo, takuan, nori, red round radish, snap peas, and sugar peas

There is also a selection of Japanese gifts for sale and a convenient “to-go” case for those in a rush during lunch.

Little gifts from Kappo
Little gifts from Kappo

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A look inside the to – go display case – sushi bowls, rice balls, desserts, and soft drinks!

Ramune soda and house made desserts to go
Ramune soda and house made desserts to go
Onigiri of the day - rice balls stuffed with salmon and plum and wrapped in nori seaweed
Onigiri of the day – rice balls stuffed with salmon and plum and wrapped in nori seaweed

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Sample menu of the day
Sample menu of the day

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Chef Backgrounds

Lordfer Lalicon

Lordfer Lalicon earned Bachelors in Health Science from the University of Florida. Move to New York City and started work at various establishments before getting a job at the Oak Room with Joel Antunes where he got his feet wet in basics of French cooking. After a short stint at the Oak Room, Lo went to work at Allen and Delancey and finally for Dan Barber’s Blue Hill at Washington Squares. After a year at Blue Hill NYC, Lo went to Blue Hill @ Stone Barns to improve his techniques. Lo eventually went on to be part of the opening team at Maharlika, modern Filipino restaurant, Parm, Carbone, and Torrisi.

Jennifer Banagale

Jen graduated University of Florida with a degree in Economics. With a couple of semesters spent in Osaka Japan, she also earned a Bachelors in Eastern Asian Language. Unsatisfied with her undergraduate studies in the Swamp, she decided to study in Holland and attained a Masters in International Business. After completing her education, she got a job in the financial sector but decided that the trade wasn’t for her and decided to moved to the Big Apple and immerse herself in the world of pastry.

First, her opportunities came in Demel, an Austrian pastry shop and there after proceeded in working in kitchens that include the Oak Room, Aquavit, and DT Works in the Lower East Side. Jen also work as a chef de partie at Mortons Private Club and recently as the Head Pastry Chef at Umu, which is located in the Mayfair district of London.

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Mark V. Berdin

Mark graduated with Bachelors Degree in History. Whimsically, when asked by a friend to move to New York City, he nonchalantly said yes and never looked back. Coming to NYC with no job, money, or any direction in life, he went to work for Chef Morimoto in the Meat Packing District where he got his feet wet and learn the fundamentals of Sushi and Japanese cuisine in general. After two and half years, Mark went to work for Master Sushi Chef Masato Shimizu at 15 East. After a brief and fun stint at 15 East, Mark moved to London where he is sous chef to Chef Yoshinori Ishii and Masato Nishihara for three years, learning the art of Kaiseki at Umu.

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Kappo on Urbanspoon

If you haven’t been to Oviedo in a while, particularly to visit Sushi Pop, I suggest to you – Don’t mind the Oviedo chickens, just hurry on over and make some dinner plans as soon as possible.

A few new items recently debuted on the dinner menu at Sushi Pop, many of which will probably leave you utterly stunned and inspired, like I recently did during a visit, with the truly creative and delightful tastings that Chef Chau and his team has conducted.

Chef Chau explained, “We try to stay true to the season. But most the time we are inspired by the things we’ve eaten, experienced or are experimenting on. It comes in all forms, sometimes it starts with an idea and then we just keep going down that rabbit hole.”

Chef Chau - focused, determined, creative and avant garde in his cuisine
Chef Chau – focused, determined, creative and avant garde in his cuisine

Chef Chau also recently returned from a staging at Eric Ripert’s three-Michelin starred Le Bernadin in Manhattan.

“Chefs really don’t have a continuing education program. What we have to supplement this is called a “stage” or an externship. And that’s what I did at Le Bernardin. For a few days I got to hang out with some really talented chefs and do something completely out of my comfort level, it was very exciting! I try to do a stage once a year to get inspired. Next one will be at Benu, Corey Lee’s 2 Michelin star restaurant in San Francisco.”

“I had lunch at Le Bernardin one time and I got the chef’s tasting which was $150. The entire time they kept pushing a wine tasting on me but I told them I was working the dinner shift so I couldn’t. Finally they convinced me to have some champagne. At the end of the meal the check came out and there was no bill. I called the captain over and asked what happened. He said everything was taken care. I said “wow I really should pay”. He said no, you are now part of the Le Bernardin family…so classy.”

One thing that Chef Chau brought back to Sushi Pop was a newfound appreciation and love for using the confit method to cooking, as evidenced by the new khao soi noodle dish, featuring a whole leg of duck confit.

Sushi Pop's Duck Confit Khao Soi curry noodles
Sushi Pop’s Duck Confit Khao Soi curry noodles – $17

Savory and sweet with textures of crunchy and soft – with a deft and masterful touch from Chef Chau at Sushi Pop, it’s transformed from Rangon street food to a blissful art. The noodles are made in house, infused with black squid ink and Korean gochujaru peppers, so there is a slight touch of spice to the thick noodles. The base of the dish is the curry, a combination of Thai curry, galangal, lemongrass, and chicken stock.

The star is the leg of duck confit – perfectly executed with delicately crispy skin and meat that has fall-off-the-bone tenderness, the duck combined with the black noodles and the curry sauce together is pure nirvana.

Hawaiian Yellowtail
Hawaiian Yellowtail crudo – $14

Hawaiian yellowtail with shiso pepper, Thai basil, pickled radish, avocado slivers, preserved lemon soy  – the konpachi is younger, milder not as strong but crisp.

Sushi Pop's Scallop Nigiri
Sushi Pop’s Hokkaido Scallop Nigiri with seared Iberico Lardo – $7

Hokkaido scallop nigiri with blow torch-seared Iberico Lardo – Sushi Pop’s take on bacon wrapped scallops with flavors of orange kosho, a rift on yuzu kosho, using orange zest instead of yuzu, fleur de sel, toasted sesame, chives. Truly marvelous flavor profiles throughout, such great tastes and dynamic flavors in such a small compact bite.

Sushi Pop's So Fresh So Clean roll
Sushi Pop’s So Fresh So Clean roll  – $14

So Fresh & So Clean (Hawaiian yellowtail, tuna, tempura asparagus, tobanjan aioli, Asian relish, radishes)

Sushi Pop's Seared Tuna, Black Garlic Rice Nigiri
Sushi Pop’s Seared Tuna, Black Garlic Rice Nigiri

The chef sent out a lovely tasting, not currently available on the menu – a seared tuna nigiri, marinated in ponzu with panko, shiso on black garlic sushi rice, made by mashing black garlic and a little squid ink with the sushi rice. The black garlic, a well guarded secret in the industry, is made by here by cooking and drying for months so that it is sweet and has a slightly less garlicky finish, and of course the black color.

Sushi Pop's Boquerones - a play on caeser salad
Sushi Pop’s Boquerones – a play on caeser salad – $6

Spanish boquerones, the “Mercedes Benz” of anchovies, is served nigiri style with rice in a way that mimics the flavors of a caeser salad in sushi form. Fried capers in olive oil, panko, vinegar, marinated anchovies, and a touch of caeser dressing style aioli.

Sushi Pop's Octopus a la plancha
Sushi Pop’s Octopus a la plancha – $13

Octopus a la Plancha is a product of one of Chef Chau’s forays into modernist cuisine or molecular gastronomy. The octopus is cooked sous vide for hours to get its soft, almost gelatinous-like texture and then pan seared with roasted shishito peppers, white scallions, relish chimichurri sauce, and light puffs of sweet potato espuma.

Chau Chau of Sushi Pop

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TastyChomps: Where did you grow up and how did you gain your experiences as a chef?

Chef Chau:

I immigrated over to the US from Vietnam when I was 18 months old. We eventually made our way to Ft Myers, Florida and that’s where I grew up. My aunt opened the first Chinese restaurant in which all our family worked at. That was my first taste of the restaurant industry. Eventually I started working for my parents’ restaurants. I learned a lot through the chefs they had.

Eventually in high school I started making sushi to make some extra money, and it has stuck ever since. I have no formal training.

My first “a ha” moment was eating at Nobu around early 2000 in NYC. Chef Nobu Matsuhisa is the pioneer of modern sushi – well, him and my favorite Chef Morimoto.

I got to see sushi in a whole new light. I would say that was the first time my food really started changing.

In 2002, I opened up Shari Sushi Lounge – And I got an opportunity to visit Tokyo where I got to see where the cuisine I do was born.

It was life changing, from seeing the Masamoto knife shop (where I get my favorite knives), to hanging out with an eccentric chef Suzuki San at Maguro Ya and of course touring and seeing a tuna auction in Tsukiji market.

And of course, experiences through staging and working with talented people only makes you better.

What do you do for fun outside of the kitchen? inside the kitchen?

I try to stay active whether that comes in the form of biking or running. I love the water, so come summer I’ll be 3 shades darker from surfing and fishing.

In the kitchen, we are always playing practical jokes with each other. One time, my sous chef cryo-vac’d my running shoes, froze them in a cambro with water. He brought it out to me one day and said we were “running” a special with this, lol I had no idea what meat or animal it was until I started de thawing it.

It was great, I won’t tell you what I did but I got him back pretty good.

Sushi Pop Oviedo - playful interior, lovely lighting and decor
Sushi Pop Oviedo – playful interior, lovely lighting and decor

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On Saturday, April 26, 2014, we were invited to RanGetsu’s 67th Anniversary Celebration in Maitland, FL. The original RanGetsu in Tokyo was founded in 1947, initially led by Mr. Konaka’s son Masayasu Konaka and currently by his grandson Masaaki Konaka, President of RanGetsu.

In 1986 RanGetsu opened on International Drive in Orlando as part of their contribution to the cultural enrichment of the City Beautiful and the multi-cultural themes of the opening of Epcot Center. The restaurant stood for a quarter century until moving for the 2011 opening of “RanGetsu at Lake Lily,” a new and unique dining experience in the City’s Maitland-Winter Park area.

RanGetsu welcomes you with complimentary valet and a relaxing ambiance. The lighting is dim all around to augment the modern styles within the restaurant.

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The hosts, waiters and waitresses work as a team here – every now and then, the general manager would come by, greet you and talk about your evening at RanGetsu.

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At 8:30pm, the Taiko Drummers performed a heart stopping show filled with power and emotions. However, not only are the ambiance and family of RanGetsu amazing, but also the food is absolutely distinctive and fit for the emperor himself.

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The Tuna Flatbread is raw seared tuna garnished with a sweet and spicy Asian slaw, avocado and crumbled feta cheese. The sweet and spicy Asian slaw heightened the fresh tuna. You can definitely taste both the sweetness and spiciness of the appetizer in every bite.

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French Bread Cheese Gratin contains 7 Imported Gorgonzola and Gruyere cheese sauce baked over French bread crostinis. This dish comes out sizzling hot and melts in your mouth. Not only is this great, but also ask your waiter for the story of what this dish represents.

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Next, we tried a sample of the sushi/sashimi menu that included seared Kobe beef, Blue Fin Tuna and Flounder. Each is simple with a light sauce on each to bring out the flavors of the main items. Not only does the flounder sashimi is appealing and contains a beautiful color to it, it had a few unique flavors brought out individually.

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The Sizzling Tofu is firm fried tofu served on a sizzling cast iron skillet with stir-fried vegetables and finished in tantalizing ginger teriyaki sauce. The tofu is great and can easily be cut apart to share – even with using only chopsticks – but it also doesn’t fall apart on its own and make a mess! Together with the vegetables and ginger teriyaki sauce, it is a simple delight to enjoy after a long and tiring day. Although, if soaked in the sauce for too long, it may be a bit high in sodium, so make sure you enjoy it while it’s hot!

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The Chilean Sea Bass Miso Teriyaki is perfectly baked sea bass to release its subtle and sweet flavor; it is served with a side of vegetables. The sea bass is subtle and sweet as they insisted it to be as well as fresh with a buttery texture.

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Sukiyaki is a traditional Nabe course describing thinly sliced Wagyu Kobe beef quickly simmered in a traditional sweet soy broth. This dish is cooked at your table and includes: the Wagyu Kobe beef, baby bok choy, enoki and shiitake mushrooms, napa cabbage, onions, tofu, and udon noodles. When they said it was served traditionally, you may find it uneasy to be eating it all with raw scrambled egg, but it will add a buttery texture to each item of the dish. The sauce provides a sweet taste where the beef, etc can be enjoyed without the raw egg, but you won’t want to eat it without the raw egg once you try it once!

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Last, but not least, dessert was served: Vanilla Ice Cream, Chocolate Cake and Green Tea Crème Brulee. Each item can be enjoyed individually, but mixing is also suggested. The ice cream was made just right and cannot be complained about because it has the right amount of sweetness! The chocolate cake is very fluffy/airy and mouthwatering! Mixing the chocolate cake with the vanilla ice cream as well as the fruit that comes with it creates a sense of heaven in your mouth for every bite you take!!! Personally, I enjoyed the Green Tea Crème Brulee more than ice cream and chocolate cake that night, as it was very, very smooth and cooling beneath its candied surface!

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Again, I highly recommend this restaurant for anyone who would like to experience fine dining alone or with family and friends. RanGetsu will satisfy your every visit and it’s quite possible you’ll see me at a table when you decide to visit RanGetsu.

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Also, after dinner, you could head over to Lake Lily park within view of RanGetsu for a nice stroll.

RanGetsu Restaurant & Orchid Lounge on Urbanspoon

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Photos by Krystle Nguyen

Sushi Chef Asanuma Yoshio, better known as Chef Yoshi, practices his art inside Cascade American Bistro at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress. Long time Orlando residents may recognize Chef Yoshi, formerly the owner of the two-decades old Sushiman restaurant in the Marketplace at Dr. Phillips, who had to close the restaurant in October of 2006 after huge rent increases from the landlord.

Chef Yoshi, formerly of Sushiman, working the sushi rice with his fingers
Chef Yoshi, formerly of Sushiman, working the sushi rice with his fingers at Cascade American Bistro

Since 2007, Chef Yoshi has been working his skill at the Grand Cypress, offering his high quality and delicious sushi makimono rolls, nigiri sushi, and otsumami (snacks/small plates) menu at the Cascade American Bistro.

His sushi bar is slightly hidden, off to the side with several tables allocated to it, but remains a popular choice among discerning diners and visitors to the hotel restaurant. Though he is modest, you can tell he is very proud of his sushi creations.

Chef Yoshi presenting a special sushi plate full of nigiri, sashimi, and a maki roll
Chef Yoshi presenting a special sushi plate full of nigiri, sashimi, and a maki roll

I only wish that his bar will also get a nice upgrade in the coming months once the renovations begin for the restaurant – something with proper seats at the bar to watch the sushi chefs at work and enjoy a nice conversation over some poured Japanese sake.

Chef Yoshi shows off his knife skills through not only beautiful flower creations cut from cucumbers and carrots, but also in the way he cuts his fish for the sushi. The key to great sushi, in addition to great sourcing of fish, lies in the sushi rice, here perfectly balanced with flavors of rice vinegar, sugar, and salt.

Chef Yoshi is a traditionalist when it comes to sushi, preferring to let the ingredients speak for themselves and avoiding the trap laid by more Americanized sushi offerings like diluting flavors with heavy mayo sauces. Makimono roll prices range from $9 for simple tuna rolls to $19 for the dancing eel roll. Nigiri sushi prices range from $3 for tamago egg to $7.50 for uni sea urchin.

sushi-5

A fabulous California roll, stuffed with krab salad, sliced avocado, fresh, crisp cucumber, fish roe,  and sprinkled with sesame seeds on the outside
A fabulous California roll, stuffed with krab salad, sliced avocado, fresh, crisp cucumber, fish roe, and sprinkled with sesame seeds on the outside
Sweet Raw Shrimp "Ama Ebi" with head on - This is probably for the more advanced level sushi lovers out there, but definitely worth a try here under Chef Yoshi's care. I've had raw shrimp before in Tokyo, but the one prepared here was 10 times better, just sweet and smooth. Make sure to remove the head before eating though.
Sweet Raw Shrimp “Ama Ebi” with head on – This is probably for the more advanced level sushi lovers out there, but definitely worth a try here under Chef Yoshi’s care. I’ve had raw shrimp before in Tokyo, but the one prepared here was 10 times better, just sweet and smooth. Make sure to remove the head before eating though.
Salmon roe sushi - little, salty pearls of fish eggs that just pop in your mouth with flavors of the sea.
Salmon roe sushi – little, salty pearls of fish eggs that just pop in your mouth with flavors of the sea.
Unagi eel nigiri sushi - nicely grilled
Unagi eel nigiri sushi – nicely grilled
Tamago - a sweet Japanese egg omelet prepared with a little mirin rice wine and sugar, can be one of the hardest things to master in the sushi world. Done well here, with flavors on par with tamago found in the streets on the outer markets of Tsukiji in Tokyo.
Tamago – a sweet Japanese egg omelet prepared with a little mirin rice wine and sugar, can be one of the hardest things to master in the sushi world. Done well here, with flavors on par with tamago found in the streets on the outer markets of Tsukiji in Tokyo.
Dynamite Roll, Spider Roll, and Volcano Roll
Dynamite Roll, Spider Roll, and Volcano Roll
Dynamite roll - tuna with wasabi mayo and cucumber, sprinkled with  sesame seeds  and sliced green onion on the outside
Dynamite roll – tuna with wasabi mayo and cucumber, sprinkled with sesame seeds
and sliced green onion on the outside
Volcano roll - chopped scallop, spicy mayo on top of California roll with cream cheese
Volcano roll – chopped scallop, spicy mayo on top of California roll with cream cheese
Seek out Chef Yoshi and his sushi chef partner soon at Cascade American Bistro, Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress
Seek out Chef Yoshi and his sushi chef partner soon for some of the freshest sushi in town at Cascade American Bistro, Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

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