UMAMI RESTAURANT & SUSHI BAR

ADDRESS: 3042 West New Haven Avenue, West Melbourne, FL 32904

Ever since moving down to Florida back in December, I had been on the hunt to find some good sushi. That search initially brought me to Seito Sushi up in Orlando, where it was unfortunately a bit of a disappointment. After that, I decided to turn my search closer to home and stick within the Melbourne area to see what I could find. Umami Restaurant and Sushi Bar popped up on the radar, with some relatively good reviews and nice looking pictures of sushi rolls (some of which were identical to the ones from my visit to Seito). My friend Shyam said he wanted to take a break from eating pizza for 4 consecutive days, so we headed over to give Umami a shot.

Located inside the Metro West shopping plaza, Umami is a few storefronts down from the Subway (I actually drove right by it the first time searching the plaza for the place). The dining area is relatively smaller, probably able to accommodate 25 – 30 people total. There’s the option to either sit at tables or at the sushi bar, located all the way at the back of the restaurant. The feel of the dining area still stayed relatively on the casual side, although the lighting was dimmed down a little bit and added a slightly intimate vibe to the atmosphere. Darkened front windows helped to filter out any bright lights from the exterior as well, preserving that atmosphere throughout the restaurant. For a Saturday evening, the crowd was pretty light, with only a handful of tables occupied when we got there. The hostess led us over to a table and gave us the menus, where we began to ponder over the sushi roll selection.

Like I mentioned above, I was certainly surprised to find a couple of identical sushi rolls at Umami that I had seen up at Seito Sushi in Orlando: the Distinguished Gentleman and Corona were two that jumped out on the list. I’m not sure if those rolls are a regional specialty, since I hadn’t heard of either until coming out to this area. Shyam and I wanted to give several different rolls a try, so we each ordered two apiece. I went with the Distinguished Gentleman and Boba Fett, while he went with the Bang Dang and Corona.

It probably helped that there was a light number of people in the restaurant eating at the time, because the sushi chefs were pretty efficient about getting our food out to us fast. Shyam had gotten an order of edamame to help tide over his hunger, and it was just as we were finishing off the last few pieces when both plates of sushi came. Shyam’s plate had a more elegant look, with the Corona Roll arranged diagonally across the whole plate and the Bang Dang Roll split up on each side. On my plate, the Boba Fett Roll was the more interesting plating arrangement of the two: all pieces were placed in a circular pattern, with a large mound of crab salad dropped right on top and garnished with some scallions.

The Distinguished Gentleman Roll was one I had tried at Seito Sushi and, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t really that impressed. It was my hope that Umami could redeem my impression of the roll, and I think that it was successful in that regard. In almost a mini-interpretation of a “surf-and-turf,” the Distinguished Gentleman features a combination of Maine lobster and seared rare beef, complimented by avocado, masago, and scallions, finished with jalapeño slices, truffle salt, and wasabi aioli on top. The flavors of the jalapeño and wasabi combined well to contrast with some of the more subtle flavors from the other ingredients. I do think, however, that the wasabi aioli might have been too overpowering that it drowned out the more subtle flavor of the lobster.

As for the other roll that I ordered, the Boba Fett, I think that I preferred that one over the Distinguished Gentleman. At the base, it was a California Roll wrapped in avocado, topped with crab salad, baked scallop chunks, masago, and finished with some eel sauce and scallions. What I liked about it though, was that the spicy and savory flavors of the crab salad accentuated the California Roll (avocado and crab stick) really well, with the eel sauce adding some sharper contrast from the other flavors. The sushi chefs were pretty generous with the crab salad when they were plating the roll, which definitely helped me to load it up when I was constructing each bite.

In the search for quality sushi in the Melbourne area, I was able to find a winner in Umami Restaurant and Sushi Bar. With a wide selection of signature rolls, eclectic flavor combinations, and reasonable prices, Umami checked all the boxes for what I was looking for when I set out on my sushi restaurant quest. Even though the restaurant might be tucked away in a sea of other storefronts in the shopping plaza, be sure not to miss it. I know I’m already looking forward to the next opportunity to stop by and try some more sushi rolls.

Let’s now take a look at the Umami Restaurant & Sushi Bar Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.

** The Distinguished Gentleman — pictured left **
Maine lobster and avocado on the inside, layered with seared rare beef and jalapeño slices on top, finished with masago, truffle salt, and wasabi aioli

** The Boba Fett — pictured right **
California Roll wrapped with avocado and topped with crab salad, baked scallops, masago, and eel sauce

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** The Bang Dang — pictured left and right **
Tempura coconut shrimp, mango, and cream cheese on the inside, topped with tuna, blue crab salad, and eel sauce

The Corona — pictured middle
Grilled shrimp, tempura asparagus, and cucumber inside, wrapped with avocado and topped with blue crab, pico de gallo, and cilantro

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The Atkins
Tuna, salmon, white fish, yellowtail, and avocado, all wrapped with cucumber and served in a ponzu sauce

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** The Godfather — pictured top and bottom **
Fried lobster tail with cream cheese and asparagus on the inside, topped with salmon, tuna, masago, and garnished with eel sauce

** The Trinity — pictured middle **
Salmon, tuna, and yellowtail on the inside, topped with avocado and sliced lemon, garnished with puffed rice cracker, cilantro, and yuzu tobiko

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** The Cajun Salmon **
Spicy blue crab salad, avocado, and asparagus on the inside, topped with torched salmon, lemon dill aioli, and tobiko

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And finally, here are my rankings for Umami Restaurant & Sushi Bar:

Food: 5 / 5

Diversity in flavors is key here, as there are quite a few signature rolls to choose from. Each roll I tried brought a different flavor combination to the table, while still maintaining a fresh taste from all the ingredients.

Atmosphere: 4.25 / 5

Our waitress was pleasant and checked back with us frequently during the course of the meal. The sushi chefs didn’t keep us waiting too long either, with all four rolls arriving expeditiously.

Service: 4.25 / 5

With the smaller seating capacity and dimmed lighting, the dining area does seem to give off a semi-intimate feel. Black dining furniture tie in well with the light-colored walls and decorations.

Price: 4.5 / 5

I thought the price points for the various rolls was pretty reasonable, especially given some of the more premium ingredients used. For the quality of the rolls that I got, I’d certainly pay those prices again.

Overall:
18 / 20
(90%)

SEITO SUSHI

ADDRESS: 8031 Turkey Lake Road, Suite #700, Orlando, FL 32819

Seito Sushi, Photo 1

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.

Seito Sushi, Photo 2Korean Fried Chicken Wings
Crispy jumbo wings tossed in a Gochujang chili sauce.

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Seito Sushi, Photo 3The 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.

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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.

Overall:
16.75 / 20
(84%)

Seito Sushi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

MISO PHAT

ADDRESS: 4310 Lower Honoapiilani Rd, Suite #111, Lahaina, HI 96761

Miso Phat, Photo 1It came time to move on to the island of Maui for my family’s vacation, and this also meant that it was time to try a restaurant I had been looking forward to since the trip started. I had initially stumbled across Miso Phat when looking on Yelp for some more Japanese restaurants to add to our itinerary; this one stuck out due to its humorous play on words. It also happened that the restaurant was extremely well rated and the photos of their dishes looked amazing. We then decided that it was definitely a lock for our first dinner on that island, and I’m extremely glad that we got to check out this phenomenal sushi spot.

I think that this restaurant could classify as a hole-in-the-wall, as it’s nestled away in the midst of a small office complex. Some of the reviews I had read mentioned to arrive at the restaurant early, with seating being very limited and it could get crowded real fast. Heeding this advice, we got there around 4:30 p.m. to grab an early dinner. Those reviews weren’t wrong about the capacity. Inside, there was only seating enough for about 20 people, and that’s already packing it in a little bit between the tables and sushi bar. Lucky for us, there was only one other table occupied when we got there, so we were able to sit down at a table immediately.

The gentleman that greeted us at the door seemed to wear many hats at the restaurant, since he also took our orders, gave us our food, refilled our drinks, rang us up, and cleared the tables. After he gave us our menus, he explained that the owner of the restaurant also had his own fishing boat (aptly named the “Shiso Phat”) and that almost all the fish served in the restaurant was caught in-house.

After looking over the menu a few times, it was still difficult to decide what to order. All of the sushi rolls sounded amazing just based on their description alone. Three of us had planned to order rolls anyway, so we decided just to get six rolls total to sample the menu, each person choosing two each. Out of all twelve specialty rolls available, we chose the Miso Phat Roll, TNT Roll, 69 Roll, Rockin Roll, TNA Roll, and Caterpillar Roll. Luckily, we had built up quite an appetite, because that turned out to be a massive amount of sushi to finish. All of us had fresh memory of a rather poor sushi showing from Monstera Noodles & Sushi the night before, so we were hoping this place could redeem our impression of sushi on Hawaii.

Presentation is a big part of the dining experience, and it’s commonly said that you eat with your eyes first. When our plate of sushi got dropped off at the table, I couldn’t help but say “wow” and marvel at the work of art before me.

Miso Phat, Photo 2It was a beautiful array of colors laid out on the plate, with each roll having its own look. Even now, looking back on the photos while I’m writing this post, I’m getting hungry all over again! The ingredients combined together were able to develop multiple layers of flavor; some of the combinations were different than anything I’ve tried and everything just tasted so fresh.

Out of all of them, however, I think that my favorite is going to have to be the TNT Roll. Shrimp tempura and crab wrapped with avocado and topped with fresh Ahi poke, served with a drizzle of unagi sauce and agave honey. It’s a properly named roll, because it’s an absolute explosion of flavor in your mouth. The Ahi poke had a deep sweet and soy sauce flavor from its marinade, with the shrimp tempura giving the roll a crunchy texture and mixing well with the slightly sweet crab. The unagi sauce and agave nectar also helped give the roll a nice sweet and savory aftertaste.

With each roll priced at $18+, things can get expensive real quick if you want to try a variety of rolls. After sampling what Miso Phat has to offer, however, that price point is something that I’m certainly willing to pay. For the quality of ingredients and refreshing flavor combinations, it probably ranks as some of the best sushi I’ve had to date. This place certainly exceeded my family’s initial expectations going in. If I can ever find a cheap flight back over to Maui (and I know that’s probably a long shot), I might just consider it just to have the chance to visit this place again.

Let’s now take a look at the Miso Phat Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.

Miso Phat, Photo 3** TNT Roll (Miso The Bomb) **
Shrimp tempura and crab roll wrapped with avocado and topped with Ahi poke, with a drizzle of unagi sauce and agave nectar.

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Miso Phat, Photo 4** 69 Roll (Miso Horny) — pictured front **
California roll topped with broiled unagi, and garnished with unagi sauce, tobiko, scallions, and sesame seeds.

** Miso Phat Roll — pictured back **
Spicy tuna roll wrapped with avocado and unagi, topped with unagi sauce, tobiko, and sesame seeds.

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Miso Phat, Photo 5** Rockin Roll (Miso Groupie) — pictured front **
California roll wrapped with Hamachi, topped with scallops, and then baked. Finished off with unagi sauce, tobiko, bonito flakes, scallions, and sesame seeds.

** Caterpillar Roll (Miso Butterfly) — pictured back **
Broiled unagi roll topped with avocado slices and garnished with unagi sauce and sesame seeds.

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Miso Phat, Photo 6** TNA Roll **
California roll wrapped with salmon and topped with scallops, spicy aioli, and then baked. Garnished with bonito flakes, unagi sauce, tobiko, furikake, and served with a lemon squeeze.

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And finally, here are my rankings for Miso Phat:

Food: 5 / 5

What more can I say? The fish tasted so fresh, the flavor combinations were both balanced and well-executed, and the wide variety of options available left me wanting to try all the rolls the chef offered.

Atmosphere: 4.5 / 5

Even though the dining area was small, the tables were spaced apart enough and it didn’t feel all too cramped. The tables were made out of finished tree trunk slices, and items bearing the Miso Phat logo hung on the wall, including a flag and several T-shirts.

Service: 5 / 5

Unfortunately, I never caught the gentleman’s name who looked after us while we were dining there, but he did a fantastic job by making us feel welcome and answering any questions we had about rolls, even providing some background info on the restaurant and offering some fish caught on their boat that wasn’t featured on the menu.

Price: 4.5 / 5

The sushi rolls here were priced higher than any other place that I’ve been to before, but I would still pay that premium in the blink of an eye. It doesn’t get any fresher than catching the ingredients yourself, and with being in a hot tourist spot such as Lahaina, I’m sure that factors into the higher cost as well.

Overall:
19 / 20
(95%)

Miso Phat Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

MONSTERA NOODLES & SUSHI

ADDRESS: 68-1330 Mauna Lani Drive, Suite #111, Puako, HI 96743

Monstera Noodles & Sushi, Photo 1During the planning phases for my family’s Hawaii trip, we reached out to my cousin Connie, who had been over to the islands several times, for recommendations on local restaurants as well as types of cuisine to look for while on the trip. One of things she recommended was Japanese food; my family loves sushi, so it was a perfect fit to add a few sushi restaurants to the itinerary. Monstera was a well-rated restaurant that was only a ten minute drive away from our resort, so we decided to check it out for our second full day on the Big Island.

Even though I had put in an OpenTable reservation for 5:30, it turns out we didn’t need it. The restaurant didn’t open until then, and there were only a few other groups waiting to be seated before we arrived. The interior of the restaurant felt very modern, using a lot of glass decorations. One of my favorite decorative areas was in the back of the dining room, where a wide picture of a bamboo forest was mounted underneath a suspended bamboo overhang. Ample lighting around the entire restaurant contrasted with the dark dining tables and floors.

It had been a while since I’d eaten some sushi, so my craving for it had definitely built up. Between me and my mom, we decided to split four rolls in an effort to maximize the sushi we could try from the menu. We ordered the Volcano Roll, Norio’s Original 69 Roll, Negitoro Roll, and the Salmon Avocado Roll to get a good spread between salmon, tuna, and shrimp tempura.

Monstera, in addition to sushi and sashimi, also offers a small variety of hot & cold noodle dishes, using soba or udon noodles. My brother has always been inclined to order noodle dishes at restaurants, so he went with the Monstera Udon to give it a shot. My dad opted for his usual sashimi dinner plate to try out the restaurant’s sampling of fresh fish.

Since we were one of the first parties to get seated, the chefs were able to start on our order right away. It was about twenty minutes or so before all the food arrived, and we were high on anticipation to start our sampling of Japanese food in Hawaii.

Presentation-wise, it was definitely a tale of two dishes. My Volcano Roll was plated nicely, with the roll pieces arranged in the shape of, well, a volcano. The shrimp tempura end piece was in the middle and stuck out vertically, which was a nice play on visuals. The Salmon Avocado roll, however, left much to be desired. The packed rice around the seaweed was broken up on some of the pieces, and the seaweed wrapping itself was rather deformed in shape as well. The black sesame seed garnish that was meant to be on the top was also unevenly distributed onto the sides.

For the two rolls that I had picked (Volcano and Norio’s Original 69), I thought they both had good flavor. For the Norio’s, the savory flavor from the baked unagi and tobiko balanced well with the snow crab wrapped inside. Add in some panko flakes for some crunch and I think that roll would be perfectly balanced. The Volcano had a good mix between the shrimp tempura and spicy tuna, but I wish there had been more of the spicy aioli available either on the plate or the roll to give it that added kick. I thought the Negitoro and Salmon Avocado Rolls, which were not as busy as the other two, were able to let the taste and freshness of the fish shine.

My brother did express his disappointment with his Monstera Udon, saying that the combination was rather plain in flavor and the chicken was overcooked. Something also didn’t agree with his stomach, although it’s unknown if that could be attributed to something that he had eaten earlier.

While my family did have high expectations for this place coming in, I think unfortunately it fell a little short when stacking it up to other Japanese places we’ve eaten at before. The pricing was a little expensive for the quantity of fish you get in the sushi / sashimi, and the flavors were rather hit or miss. I’m unsure if I would return again in the future, given there are a number of other local dining options available that might get you better value.

Let’s now take a look at the Monstera Noodles & Sushi Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.

Monstera Noodles & Sushi, Photo 2** Norio’s Original 69 Roll **
Fresh snow crab wrapped with avocado, topped with baked unagi and tobiko.

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Monstera Noodles & Sushi, Photo 3** Volcano Roll **
Shrimp tempura and spicy tuna wrapped with avocado and plated with gochujang sauce and spicy aioli.

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Monstera Noodles & Sushi, Photo 4Salmon Avocado Roll (pictured front)
Salmon and avocado wrapped in seaweed, garnished with black sesame seeds.

Negitoro Roll (pictured back)
Chu toro (medium fatty tuna) wrapped with chopped green onions.

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And finally, here are my rankings for Monstera Noodles & Sushi:

Food: 3.5 / 5

While the fish tasted fresh, inconsistency with the presentation quality and taste made the sushi less enjoyable. My brother’s Monstera Udon dish was also rather plain in flavor. The selection of rolls do feature a nice variety of seafood, depending on what you’re in the mood for.

Atmosphere: 4.25 / 5

I really enjoyed the modern feel of the dining area décor, coupled with the brighter ambient lighting. That bamboo picture in the back (mentioned above) was also a really neat design element. The front wall of the restaurant was also made entirely of glass panes, which let in a lot of natural light to the restaurant.

Service: 4 / 5

Our waitress was very accommodating and returned various times throughout the meal to ask how the food tasted and refill our waters. We also didn’t have to wait very long before our food arrived at the table.

Price: 2.75 / 5

Some of the specialty rolls I thought were a little pricey, with a select few being fairly priced. My dad’s sashimi dinner only came with 15 pieces for the $48; in the past, other restaurants have usually served at least 20 for around the same price point. My brother’s udon dish being priced at $20, however, was pretty high for something that tasted average at best.

Overall:
14.5 / 20
(73%)

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

NAGOYA ASIAN BISTRO

Address: 784 Prince Frederick Boulevard, Prince Frederick, MD 20678

Nagoya Asian Bistro, Photo 1

After I knew that I would be moving to southern Maryland to start my new job, I began the hunt for new restaurants that I wanted to try in the area. When running a filter for Japanese restaurants, I happened upon the site for Nagoya Asian Bistro and this one picture popped up. That sealed the deal for me; I knew I had to try this place at that point.

I moved into my new apartment just last week and this past weekend, my parents surprised me with a visit down to the area to celebrate my birthday. (I guess I should have expected it coming considering I had already surprised both of them for each of their birthdays.) After they asked me where I wanted to go to eat dinner, I got this sudden craving for sushi, so we decided to make the 30-minute trek out to Prince Frederick to try out Nagoya.

Although the exterior looks like a plain red brick building, they did a great job with the interior decorating to make it feel more upscale casual. The restaurant uses a nice mix of black furniture to contrast with the yellow-orange walls and stone columns. Heavier wood blinds also go well with the vertical wood paneling finish on the walls.

When looking over the menu, I was pretty impressed that there was such a large selection of options for the rolls. Between the Chef’s Special and the Chef’s Signature sushi roll menus, I’d say there were at least thirty rolls to choose from, if not more. As we were looking over the rolls, our waiter, Jason, pointed out that they had a special combination called the “Roll Boat,” where you could order any 5 rolls and pay $49.95 for the whole thing. That’s 5 rolls for $10 each (rolls off the Chef’s Signature menu would have been $11 each), when some of them individually could range as high as $14. Talk about price savings!

The

The “Roll Boat,” which houses five sushi rolls selected from both the Chef’s Special and the Chef’s Signature menu.

In the end, we sampled five different rolls, each showcasing different ingredients and combinations.

  1. Snow White Roll – white tuna and thinly sliced jalapeños layered on the outside with albacore tuna and avocado on the inside
  2. Nagoya Dragon Roll – shrimp tempura and avocado on the inside with shredded snow crab and tobiko (fish roe) mixed with spicy mayo and eel sauce on the outside
  3. Black Dragon Roll – lobster and avocado on the inside, topped with eel, avocado, and tobiko with some eel sauce
  4. Valentine Roll – snow crab, shrimp tempura, and avocado filled the inside with tuna, salmon, and tobiko on the outside
  5. Scorpion Roll – tempura fried soft shell crab and asparagus filled the inside, with panko breadcrumbs rolled with fish roe layering in the outside and spicy mayo with chef’s sauce drizzled on top

I have to say that every piece of sushi that I ate left me wanting to eat more. Every time I had another piece, I just thought to myself, “Man, I can’t believe how good this tastes.”

I was not expecting to find a Japanese restaurant of such high quality in the middle of southern Maryland, but I am certainly glad that I did. Even though it’s 30 minutes away, I would absolutely make the drive up for this place, no question.

Let’s now take a look at the Nagoya Asian Bistro Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.

** Geisha Roll **
Lobster salad, avocado, and asparagus on the inside, spicy snow crab and tobiko on the outside.

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** Winter Roll **
Tuna, salmon, and yellowtail on the inside, with panko breadcrumbs, eel, and spicy mayo on the outside.

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** Riverdale Roll **
Shrimp tempura and spicy snow crab on the inside, spicy tuna on the outside.

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Nagoya Asian Bistro, Photo 7

** Snow White Roll **
White tuna and thinly sliced jalapeños layered on the outside with albacore tuna and avocado on the inside.

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Nagoya Asian Bistro, Photo 8

** Yum Yum Roll **
(pictured front)
Spicy salmon and avocado rolled on the inside, with snow crab and caramelized mayo on the outside.

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Sashimi Entrée
Assorted sashimi slices of salmon, tuna, spicy tuna, yellowtail, and white tuna.

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** Crazy Philly Roll **
Tempura lobster and avocado on the inside, topped with spicy scallops, spicy mayo, and eel sauce.

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And finally, here are my rankings for Nagoya Asian Bistro: 

Food: 5 / 5

The sushi was just absolutely spectacular. Quality, variety, presentation: the sushi chefs delivered, if not excelled, in all three of those areas. 

Atmosphere: 5 / 5

The decorations and furniture really add to that “upscale casual” feel I mentioned earlier. The wooden blinds also let in just enough light to establish a nice ambiance. 

Service: 5 / 5

Jason, our waiter, was very professional and extremely knowledgeable about the menu. One of the things I really liked that he did was that when both the sushi and sashimi was served, he pointed out every item that was being served. It certainly helps when you have a large number of rolls on the plate and you’re not stuck playing the guessing game of which sushi roll matched with what you ordered. 

Price: 5 / 5

I really like that “Roll Boat” combination option. It shaves off a few dollars from each roll that you buy, which could add up to $10 to $15 in savings! For the price, the quality of the sushi and freshness of the ingredients can’t be beat.

Overall:
20 / 20
(100%)

Nagoya Asian Bistro & Sushi Bar on Urbanspoon

YAMAZATO

Address: 6303 Little River Turnpike, Alexandria, VA 22312

Yamazato, Photo 1

Ever since moving down here to D.C., I’ve been keeping an eye out to try to find a good sushi place. I’ve tried a few places already, but wasn’t very impressed with the quality. I did a little more research online and upon reading some reviews, stumbled across Yamazato, a place relatively close to me. I headed over today for lunch, in the hopes that I’ve found a potential “go-to” sushi place.

Walking up to the door, I immediately noticed the column of Zagat Rated stickers that lined one of the windows. Yamazato has been in the Zagat dining guide since 2005, which potentially indicated to me that the quality of the food has remained constant over the years to merit its place in the guide.

The inside of the restaurant feels has an elegant feel to it, with a green color scheme and finished wooden tables. You can opt to sit at the sushi bar or at their smaller wine bar immediately next to it. Open displays in the back showed an assortment of wines available for diners to purchase along with their meals.

In addition to sushi rolls, Yamazato also offers the traditional Japanese teriyaki and tempura dishes. It also features a number of Thai dishes too, for those that might not be as into Japanese food. However, Yamazato really dials in on the sushi roll offerings with almost 40 chef’s special rolls and 20 regular rolls. With such a wide variety, it made it really tough to choose what to get, since everything sounded really delicious. In the end, I chose the Potomac Roll and the Hole-In-One Roll off the chef’s special menu and I was certainly very happy with my decision.

The Hole-In-One Roll featured three different types of fish on the inside (salmon, yellowtail, and tuna) wrapped up with avocado and then rolled on the outside with tobiko (flying fish roe). You could make out the individual flavors of the three fish that went into the roll, and everything tasted very fresh. The fish roe gave each piece a subtle sweet note.

As for the Potomac Roll, there’s really only one word I could use to describe it: wow. The presentation is absolutely fantastic and really pops when the plate gets put in front of you. I could equate it to being a fancily-dressed shrimp tempura roll. On the inside, you had your shrimp tempura and avocado, with crab stick layered on top, a dab of Japanese mayo, finished off with tobiko, scallions, and eel sauce. Each piece that you eat gives you such intricate levels of flavor: saltiness from the shrimp tempura, tartness from the Japanese mayo, and sweetness from the tobiko and eel sauce. The crunchy texture from the tempura is also balanced out by the smooth texture provided by the avocado and Japanese mayo. This is certainly a roll that I would recommend to others and has made it onto my list of top five favorite sushi rolls.

At last I’ve found it, my “go-to” place for sushi in the area. It took about 7 months of living here, but I’m very glad that I’ve been able to find this place. I’m excited to return next time to sample more of their rolls and other items on the menu.

Let’s now take a look at the Yamazato Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.

Yamazato, Photo 2

** Hole In One Roll (pictured front) **
Salmon, tuna, yellowtail, and avocado on the inside, topped with tobiko

** Potomac Roll (pictured back) **
Shrimp tempura and avocado wrapped on the inside, topped with crab stick, tobiko, Japanese mayo, scallions, and eel sauce.

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Yamazato, Photo 3

A second picture of the Potomac Roll just because of that presentation. Gorgeous.

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Yamazato, Photo 4

** Summer Dragon Roll **
Spicy tuna on the inside, avocado and tuna layered on the outside. Topped with tobiko and masago.

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Yamazato, Photo 5

Godzilla Roll
Deep fried roll with salmon, yellowtail, topped with Sriracha mayo, tobiko, scallions, and eel sauce.

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Yamazato, Photo 6

** Dragon Fire Roll (pictured back) **
Spicy tuna and avocado on the inside, topped with eel, masago, jalapeño masago, scallions, and eel sauce.

Super Dragon Roll (pictured front)
Eel, crab stick, cucumber, and masago on the inside, topped with salmon, tuna, avocado, and eel sauce.

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And finally, here are my rankings for Yamazato:

Food: 5 / 5

Great variety and quality of food. Fish was fresh and presentation was awesome.

Atmosphere: 4.5 / 5

A nicely decorated dining room with the “elegant feel” and some light music playing in the background. Even if it got a little busy, it seemed like it would still be a relatively comfortable noise level.

Service: 4.5 / 5

The waitress was very prompt in coming around to take my order and refill my drink. The sushi was also prepared expeditiously.

Price: 4.5 / 5

If I’m going out to eat sushi, I’m expecting to be paying on the higher end. In this case, I think that the cost was well worth it, especially for that Potomac Roll.

Overall:
18.5 / 20
(93%)

Yamazato on Urbanspoon