Led by head shushi chef Toshiaki Mizutani, a Tokyo native with more than 30 years of experience, the chefs at Tokyo Bay Japanese Restaurant craft sushi rolls, teriyaki dishes, and crispy tempura-fried entrees from fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Its most popular rolls include the Wuz Up Be roll, stuffed with spicy yellowtail, avocado, and green wasabi-flavored tobiko, and the Deadliest Catch roll with snow crab, avocado, mayo, and roe, all topped with grilled eel and a savory sauce. Fuji rolls are filled, volcano-style, with spicy hot sauce, and after taking a bite, diners can put out the flames that erupt from their mouths with Japanese and domestic beer, sake, and wine.
In addition to sushi, guests feast on steak, chicken, and seafood in housemade teriyaki sauce. They slurp down noodle dishes or crunch into meats, vegetables, and tofu coated in tempura batter and fried to a light, crispy finish.
There are two menus at The Art of Sushi: one for Japanese entrees, and one for sushi. That doesn't mean that the kitchen and the sushi chefs can't collaborate, however. During dinner, they join forces to create bento boxes lined with crispy tempura, gyoza, and California rolls. The King Lobster maki roll, by the same token, pairs lobster tempura rolls with half of a fried lobster tail.
If you'd rather stick to one style, then peruse ginger stir-fries, noodle soups, and meats flavored with homemade teriyaki sauce. Alternatively, the sushi side features both raw and cooked seafood, balanced atop pads of rice without a single safety harness. Pair meals with glasses or bottles from the wine list, which also features sake options, plum wine, and imported Japanese beers.
Situated a few chopsticks’ length away from a nearby beach, Sushi Shoya serves Japanese fare and sushi amid ocean breezes. Inside, foliage spills from wicker baskets lining the doorway, echoing the pale green walls that envelop the eating environment in a natural tone. Guests can settle into black leather chairs at a table or sidle up to the sushi bar, where chefs slip fresh fish such as salmon, tuna, and spicy yellowtail into a variety of specialty rolls. Unlike their more secretive maki counterparts, nigiri sushi pieces covered with eel, surf clam, and smelt roe let it all hang out, much like clotheslines on vacation.
The culinary creators at Chiang Mai Thai & Sushi Bar artfully twist a variety of sushi rolls and curate a menu of traditional Thai dishes. The hot pepper and basil with beef or pork ($10.99) and Siam tofu ($14.99) are both doused in house-made chili sauce, which warms tongues with a gentle flame beneath the restaurant's potted bamboo and hanging art. The Fancy Duck dish ($18.99) arrives tableside with a posse of cashews and veggies while dinners admire dishes elegantly presented on indigo flatware, ornate wooden trays, and the backs of sleeping butlers. Cool glasses of Singha beer ($4.99 each) complement rolls from the sushi menu, such as the Dancing Dragon ($13.99), a duo of shrimp tempura and imitation crab that sashays among cucumber and scallions to a smattering of masago applause.
A.J. Jewell, born in Japan to an American father and a Japanese mother who was a chef, inherited a love of cooking that transcended the Pacific. When he moved to Tampa in the 1980s, it was only logical that he follow his mother into the restaurant business. At age 18, he trained as a teppanyaki chef, learning to commune with the open flame, and soon after apprenticed under master chefs to perfect his technique. After years at Sushi Tsu, sharpening his culinary acumen, and studying world cuisine, Jewell became its owner. Each of Sushi Tsu's chefs apprentices under Jewell's sage gaze for two years before stepping into their role as teppanyaki specialists. Diners can request their favorite chef for their meal to build a rapport or establish an ongoing rock-paper-scissors game. In addition to serving fresh sushi and hot hibachi-style steakhouse food, the eatery showcases local artists with occasional live jazz music on weekends and artists painting inside the restaurant.
Chef John, the culinary leader behind Shogun Sushi, honed his skills in upscale Manhattan eateries before making his way to Tampa. He approaches sushi with a creative mind and an eye for presentation, updating traditional rolls with unconventional ingredients such as bacon and pineapple. One dish that moves even further into fusion is the sushi pizza, which is healthier than both regular italian pizza and pizza carved from butter. The "crust" is a scallion pancake, the "sauce" is avocado paste, and the toppings are pieces of either salmon or spicy tuna. Not all of Shogun Sushi's food belongs to the fusion category, though; diners can opt instead for traditional Japanese cuisine such as an udon noodle soup with fish cakes, egg, tofu, and shrimp tempura.