Both Oishi Japanese Restaurant's locations showcase Asian-inspired décor, from the ceiling covered in bamboo accents to the marble-topped sushi bar framed by a glass case of seafood. Chefs entertain lunch and dinner diners with "fire shows" at hibachi grills where they sear vegetables, seafood, meat, and wrinkled shirts. Diners also cozy up to unfinished wood tables and booths as servers deliver spreads of Japanese steakhouse cuisine, fresh sushi rolls, and desserts.
Deciding to call a restaurant and bar “Cheap” seems like a bold move, but it might not mean what you think it means. The owners, who had gained insight into guests’ needs through their other spots—Hyde Park Café, Whiskey Park, and the Kennedy—wanted to name this new eatery something that would serve as a daily reminder of their mission: to always exceed customers’ expectations. And, aside from the prices, cheap is one thing they plan to never be called. Housed inside a brick building, Cheap blends fun, eclectic decor throughout, including low-hanging birdcage lamps over tabletops surrounded by hot-pink chairs. Likewise, the menus—four of them, specifically, along with drink and dessert lists—create unexpected culinary fusions by combining a range of international flavors. The signature Cheap menu mingles classic sushi rolls with tuna tacos and fresh ceviche, a tapas-inspired menu fuses empanadas and meat skewers with hearty rib-eye steaks, and menus of sliders and pizzas bring the flavor smorgasbord home again.
A samurai uniform stands proudly behind glass, welcoming patrons into Joto Japanese Restaurant. The suit's gleaming black mask reflects a sushi bar with a cerulean awning and seats the deep red of raw bluefin tuna. There, the hands of chefs flutter over such eclectic ingredients as pineapple, baked crab, and smelt, twisting them into rolls with names such as Fly to Hawaii, What Saapp, and Screaming Tuna. The wind tousles the leaves of potted plants on a small outdoor patio, where toasting glasses unleash the soft clinks of a xylophonist’s ghost.
Named one of the city’s best family-friendly restaurants, Sushi Rock Grill specializes in Pan-Asian entrees and creative sushi rolls made from fresh, premium seafood. Bypass cross-planetary hole digs and emerge onto the flavorful Silk Road with the expansive dinner menu featuring pad thai with chicken ($14), Japanese-inspired teriyaki filet mignon ($19), or saigon noodles, a shrimp-studded pile of vermicelli rice noodles, fresh herbs, and peanuts covered in a spicy french-vietnamese sauce ($16). The sushi menu offers creative starters, such as a spicy tuna martini, a mixture of spicy tuna, daikon radish, avocado, and ponzu sauce shaken, not stirred, in honor of legendary man of mystery Barry Bonds ($11.95). Placate palates with one of the restaurant’s innovative sushi rolls, such as the Tampa, a tubular testament to lightly battered grouper, mayo, and white onion ($7.95), or the Eskimo, fresh salmon and cream cheese wrapped in snapper, baked, and served with teriyaki after the waiter rubs noses with the chef ($9.95).
Tokyo Bay Mang Sushi and Japanese Steakhouse spans a spectrum of cooking ideologies, simultaneously folding fresh, raw fish into sushi rolls, searing hibachi items in a scorching blaze, and rounding out the menu with pan-Asian entrees and Thai dishes. Chefs fire up three front-and-center teppanyaki tables, where flaming plumes obscure steak, shrimp, and scallops. The King lobster sushi roll sports dual tempura and fried lobster tails swept up in the flavors of faux crab, asparagus, avocado, and eel sauce. Basil sprinkles thai curries and piping-hot seafood, served behind a façade that mimics the tiered roofs in Thailand that protect possessions from pad thai monsoons.
The diners can feel the heat of the charcoal grill, its sweltering vapor wafting sweet and smoky aromas from the marinated short-ribs sizzling at the center of the table. Surrounding the grill like spectators at a sports match, more than a dozen small bowls display a colorful assemblage of sautéed, blanched, and pickled veggies, each awaiting their fate to crown a slice of seared meat or mingle with a pillow of white rice. This is Korean-style barbecue, Rice Restaurant & Market’s specialty. Alongside the DIY feasts, chefs work in the kitchen to impart a Korean edge on stir-fry, stews, and noodle dishes, forging each morsel from scratch and often with ingredients grown in the owner's garden, according to the Tampa Bay Times. As tableside grills crackle in the rear of the restaurant, suffusive lighting finds its way beneath the awnings of private booths. A libation expert pours cocktails, sake, and traditional soju from behind a full bar, and on special nights, a late-night menu replenishes energy levels in between spins on the dance floor, where dancers fuel moves both with the beats of a live DJ and by convincing feet that the dance floor is a Korean grill.
Hayashi boasts a bevy of edible options in its upscale buffet-style confines, offering all-you-can-eat portions of sushi, salad, seafood, soup, and hibachi for lunch and dinner, as well as plated entrees and sushi rolls. Outfit a hungering maw with a steady stream of Japanese cuisine at the lunch ($9.95–$10.95) or dinner ($12.95–$13.95) buffet, which features a treasure trove of nigiri, sashimi, sushi rolls, tempura, salad, and more, sans convoluted ownership laws.