Japanese Restaurants in East Lake-Orient Park

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Dale Del Bello remembers everything about his first hibachi experience. While stationed in Korea as a part of the Air Force National Guard, Dale and a group of friends visited Tokyo on leave. They followed a traditional route among his fellow service people, which took him to a hibachi restaurant. Immediately he sensed that he’d stumbled upon more than just dinner. The chefs’ showmanship fascinated him as they seared meats and vegetables on their tabletop grills, allowing guests to sample forkfuls directly off the 600-degree surface. After returning to Buffalo, New York, in 1971, Dale opened his first Arigato location, attempting to recreate what made that dining experience so remarkable. Since then, he has distilled the authentic experience into something that families can enjoy without traveling abroad, establishing Arigato restaurants throughout New York and Florida and staffing them with more than 60 chefs from Japan.

Surrounded by 8–10 diners, these chefs act not only as the restaurant’s culinary creators, but also as showmen and magicians of sorts, dexterously slicing ingredients, flipping shrimp tails into their hats, and conjuring soy sauce out of thin air. Away from the flaming tabletops, meanwhile, bartenders make use of their own skill sets as they mix specialty cocktails, which occasionally use splashes of plum wine or sake to imbue familiar-sounding drinks with new dimension.

13755 N Dale Mabry Hwy
Tampa,
FL
US

Dive into Origami Sushi's picture-filled menu to discover traditional fare with a creative twist. Starters such as the seared tuna tataki or the baked green mussels offer a pleasing beginning to any meal ($6.95 each). Try the tempura gladiator roll with eel, shrimp, asparagus, and avocado for a little crunch ($11.95), or combine shrimp, pineapple, cream cheese, avocado, and a thigh-slimming grass skirt in the Hawaiian ($6.95). Sashimi fans can swim upstream for the salmon roe and white tuna, or snag the sashimi dinner which features 10 pieces of sashimi and a California roll ($16.95). For patrons preferring unraw eats, Origami Sushi also serves up a variety of teriyaki selections and seafood rice bowls. Accompany the feast with a chilly Asahi or Kirin Ichiban beer ($5.95 each), or warm up with an Oi Ocha hot green tea ($2.95) or tabletop chopstick fire.

6507 W Waters Ave
Tampa,
FL
US

Hill Country News named Hayashi Sushi Bar and Grill Best International Fare in 2010. Yelpers give the establishment an average of 3.5 stars, 79% of Urbanspooners recommend it, and 11 OpenTable reviewers give it an overall average rating of 3.5 stars:

5537 Sheldon Rd
Tampa,
FL
US

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.

309 S Howard Ave
Tampa,
FL
US

At Ocean Blue's Sushi Bar, sushi chefs assiduously assemble 50 raw and cooked maki options. Though focused on crafting seafood-filled rolls like the salmon skin—a medley of tempura salmon skin, chive, and cucumber with spicy aioli—chefs accommodate different tastes and dietary restrictions, too. For meat lovers there's the steak-and-cheese maki, which features a blend of teriyaki steak, cream cheese, and fried onions, while vegans can enjoy the aptly named vegan roll, a crunchy medley of asparagus and cucumber with creamy avocado.

Ocean Blue's menu also encompasses other Japanese favorites, from teriyaki scallops to pork dumplings paired with ginger shoyu sauce. Around 10 p.m., the fine dining atmosphere gives way to a club-like vibe, where the eclectic festivities last nightly until at least 2 a.m. Often presided over by live DJs, the bar's special events include Latin nights and 90s-themed dance parties, where patrons don outfits made entirely from K'Nex.

13030 N Dale Mabry Hwy
Tampa,
FL
US

As diners enter Joto Thai-Sushi, their attention is drawn to the newly redecorated, amber-toned dining room. In the kitchen, chefs cut, roll, and transform fresh fish into more than 50 kinds of sashimi and maki, such as the spider roll—packed with deep-fried soft-shell crab—and the fried-fish Tampa roll, appeal to sushi-eaters not ready to go raw, while more traditional options, such as fresh salmon or sweet-shrimp sashimi, slake cravings for fish in its purest form. Groups can order an assortment of rolls and sashimi, typically served on a large wooden boat for the table to share, or settle into a table and enjoy fresh-grilled salmon teriyaki, shrimp tempura, or udon soup. In addition to the sushi and Japanese offerings, diners can also enjoy expertly prepared Thai classics such as Pad Thai and a variety of Thai curries. For dessert, the chefs perform the seemingly impossible and deep-fry ice cream.

310 S Dale Mabry Hwy, Ste 160
Tampa,
FL
US