Japango sign

There are certainly more attractive restaurants than Japango, a new boxed sushi concept in Mills 50, but it offers a first-rate product for a fair price, although it does have one major but entirely fixable flaw. I’ll come back to that in a moment.

Japango operates out of the Chewy Boba space in a building that fronts Colonial Drive. It looks sort of like a converted one-car garage with black paint the major decor element, although the order counter is unstained piney wood that stands out in the darkness under bright track lighting.

Japango counter

Still classifying itself as in soft opening, Japango offers two sushi boxes, one for $19 and one for $29. Both include a sushi roll and chef’s nigirizushi assortment along with edamame, plantain chips, and a choice of seaweed salad, watermelon “ceviche” or sashimi ceviche. The $29 box gets you an extra roll.


White Castle Rendering

You spend more than three decades trying to convince the world that Orlando has a vibrant and creative culinary scene with award-worthy chefs who focus on local ingredients, you push back against those who derisively call us the restaurant chain capital of the world, and you feel that finally people are starting to see us as more than the largest purveyor of fried turkey legs. Then White Castle announces a new location, people camp out the night before it opens to be first in line and traffic stretches more than half a mile from people who will wait hours for the chance to eat a slider. A slider!

In case you missed the news, White Castle, the Ohio-based fast fooder, opened what it is billing as the world’s largest free-standing White Castle Monday at the Village at O-town West. It begs the question: Is there a larger non-free-standing White Castle somewhere in the world?

News about the attendant commotion trended all day on Twitter, where one person responded to an aerial photo of the line of cars by saying, “This is the most Florida thing to come out of Florida today. But it’s still early.”

Three local restaurants – not a chain among them – were named to OpenTable’s list of Top Brunch Spots for Mother’s Day, including Flog favorite Tap Room at Dubsdread. The other two were Disney Springs neighbors Wine Bar George and the Boathouse. The list includes more than a hundred restaurants across the country that have received top reviews from OpenTable diners. If you need other MD dining options, check out our Holiday Dining listings.


Tablawp ext 1

Now that vaccines are making it possible to return to indoor dining, I have a list of restaurants I’ve been aching to visit in person. Tabla’s Winter Park location has been at the top of that list.

Tabla, in its original location, was one of the very first restaurants I reviewed on this website – actually even before this website, in its earlier iteration, back in 2008. I was an immediate fan of the food, but the atmosphere – a rather soulless room off the lobby of an even soullesser hotel near Universal Orlando – left something to be desired. Improvements were made over the years, but when it was announced that Tabla’s owners would open a second location in the former Paris Bistro space in the Shops on Park arcade, I thought, “Finally, they’ve found the perfect home.”


CobbLive with Kelly and Ryan

Charles “Chuck” Cobb, a local chef who had been enjoying newfound popularity for his barbecue business, Git-N-Messy, died Thursday, April 29, from injuries sustained in a traffic accident. He was 34.

Cobb was riding a motorcycle near the intersection of State Road 434 and Hayes Road in Winter Springs at about 11:25 a.m. when the accident involving another vehicle occurred. Shelly Brana, communications supervisor for Winter Springs Police Department, said Friday afternoon that the incident was still under investigation and no cause had been determined. According to initial reports, Cobb was ejected from his motorcycle. He was transported to a hospital where he died shortly after noon.

The intersection where the accident occurred is less than a mile from Red-Eye Sports Tavern where Cobb had moved his barbecue operations. Before partnering with Red-Eye, he sold his barbecue out of a Citgo gas station. Last summer Cobb appeared on a segment of Live with Kelly and Ryan to demonstrate a dish he called Southern Poutine. It was based on the Canadian poutine but featured pulled pork, coleslaw, cheese sauce and barbecue sauce on top of beer-battered fries.

Cobb is survived by his wife and four children. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help pay for funeral costs. As of Friday afternoon the fund had surpassed its original goal.

A note on the Git-N-Messy Smokehouse & Tavern Facebook page Friday said the restaurant was open for business as usual.