ADDRESS: 8031 Turkey Lake Road, Suite #700, Orlando, FL 32819
It’s hard to imagine that it’s already been half a year since the last time I made a post here. During that hiatus, I switched jobs and have now moved down to central Florida, where I can certainly say I’ve been enjoying the escape from the grips of winter up north. Come July timeframe, though, I’ll let you know how I’m enjoying that sweltering summer heat.
Two weekends ago, my parents and brother flew into Orlando so we could spend time together for Chinese New Year. We’d had some previous success during our Hawaii trip trying local restaurants during our vacation, so we decided to do the same during this trip too. We had already planned on eating American and Polynesian food, so we looked around the area for another cuisine my family loves to enjoy: Japanese.
Our search brought us to Seito Sushi, which had positive reviews online as well as photos of beautifully plated specialty rolls. The restaurant’s location was actually a great fit for our schedule that evening, since we were planning on attending a Blue Man Group show in Universal CityWalk later that evening. Located inside the same shopping plaza as Whole Foods and several other restaurants, Seito Sushi was only two quick turns from the Turkey Lake Road plaza entrance before we were parked in front of the place.
When we first walked in, I found myself really impressed with the décor. The primary color of choice was black, accentuated with just the right amount of glass and mirrors around different areas of the restaurant. The slightly dimmer lighting also helped to give the dining room that sleek, modern feel it was going for.
We got seated near the bar of the restaurant, with their backlit shelves displaying the wide variety of alcohol available. A table right next to the large window also meant that afforded us a nice view out the front of the restaurant. Our waitress came over to our table not too long after we were seated to take down our drink orders.
The menu encompassed a wide variety of Japanese fare, giving you plenty of choices depending on your mood. Nigiri, sashimi, and maki rolls dominated most of the selection, but if you aren’t into raw fish, there is also the noodles option as well: yakisoba, udon, or ramen. But I think that I was most impressed with the variety offered by their signature rolls, each description setting itself apart from the one above it. Reading that list had me trying to piece together the flavors in my head, sparking my culinary curiosity.
We decided to open the meal with an appetizer of the Korean Fried Chicken Wings, crispy jumbo wings that were tossed in a spicy chili sauce. The presentation was fantastic, with the wings neatly arranged at the center of the plate and garnished with black & white sesame seeds and chopped scallions. After taking a bite though, I thought the chicken was only okay. I’m not sure if it was that the wings weren’t fried enough or they used too much sauce to toss them in, but the end result was that the texture was a bit soggy. The chili sauce did, however, give the chicken some nice flavor complexion. It was my hope that the upcoming sushi rolls would make more of an impression than the wings did.
It wasn’t too long after the chicken wings that our main course arrived. All four rolls that we ordered were plated out on a large rectangular dish, arranged creatively with the garnishes on top. We all enthusiastically dug in, each person sampling a different roll. I started off with the Distinguished Gentleman, which promised a rich collection of flavors with lobster, masago, and steak tataki finished off with a wasabi aioli. Unfortunately, the wasabi flavor was very potent, overpowering almost everything else in the roll. I got a bit of the steak flavor and a hint of heat from the jalapeño, but didn’t taste the lobster or masago. From all the food pictures that I had looked through online, I was looking forward to the Distinguished Gentleman the most. Unfortunately, that roll missed the mark a little bit for me.
Some of the other rolls fared a little better, but not by much. The Beauty and the Beast (shrimp tempura with cream cheese and cucumber, topped with spicy tuna, avocado, and eel) had a good set of flavors, but just needed one more savory element to tie everything together. The Godzilla (shrimp tempura, soft shell crab, spicy crab, with asparagus tempura) had good texture and flavor with the inclusion of the honey-citrus sauce and was overall pretty good. The Calypso, however, was definitely an interesting and unexpected flavor combination for me.
I’m not really sure why I dislike an overly sweet or tangy flavor in my sushi. It’s for this reason that I don’t enjoy rolls that have mango in them; I’ve always just stuck with spicy or savory flavors. But the Calypso had that tropical relish garnish that I just couldn’t get past. For me, it just gave the roll a really strange sweet aftertaste that I didn’t find enjoyable. Replace that relish with a spicy mayo drizzle and I think that would have been a great combination.
Anticipation was high for the restaurant going into this meal. The photos of the food looked great and the reviews were solid. But while the overall experience wasn’t bad, it wasn’t as good as the food photos made it out to be either. Maybe reading the menu descriptions of the rolls set my expectations too high. Or maybe the roll selection that we got wasn’t the best combination to introduce us to what Seito Sushi had to offer. Either way, it was a meal that fulfilled our hunger, but not our hopes of finding a stellar sushi restaurant in the Orlando area.
Let’s now take a look at the Seito Sushi Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.
The Distinguished Gentleman — pictured left
Maine lobster meat with masago, scallions, and avocado, wrapped with Wagyu steak tataki and garnished with fresh jalapeño slices, wasabi aioli, and truffle salt.
The Calypso — pictured middle
Citrus-baked salmon with cucumber, masago, scallions, and togarashi, topped with avocado, steamed shrimp, and a tropical relish.
** The Beauty and the Beast — pictured right **
Shrimp tempura with cream cheese and cucumber, topped with eel, spicy tuna, and avocado, garnished with eel sauce and spicy mayo.
** The Godzilla — pictured top & bottom **
Shrimp tempura with soft shell crab, spicy crab, and asparagus tempura, garnished with tempura flakes and a honey-citrus sauce.
And finally, here are my rankings for Seito Sushi:
Food: 3.5 / 5
I appreciated the creative effort into coming up with the variety of specialty rolls. Each one sounded like it would bring a different flavor profile than the next. The end result, however, fell just a little bit short.
Atmosphere: 4.75 / 5
I was a really big fan of the sleek, modern feel of the restaurant’s décor, with a dark color theme and dimmed lighting. A cool visual focal point in the dining area was the towering display of wine bottles, arranged in a “wine cellar” lattice rack style.
Service: 4 / 5
Our waitress was friendly and stopped by our table periodically during the meal to check how we were doing. The food also didn’t take very long before arriving at the table as well.
Price: 4.5 / 5
I was pleasantly surprised at how reasonable many of the prices on the menu were, especially the specialty rolls. Being outside a major tourist destination like Orlando, the restaurant could have jacked up prices a little bit. I can certainly respect them for not doing so.