Jimotti’s is a bit of an odd place. Odd name, too, at least to my ears, which want to hear something Italian.
But Jimotti’s is Japanese and has a surprisingly substantial menu of kitchen foods and a more compact roster of sushi, sashimi and specialty rolls.
I was in the mood for ramen when I stopped in and ordered the Tonkatsu Ramen from the list of seven or more choices. But I thought I would get a piece of nigirizushi to nibble on while I waited, and I was impressed enough to want to come back for a full sushi complement sometime.
It was just a single piece of yellowtail, but it was slender and placed languorously on the pad of rice, which is where it stayed when I picked it up and flipped it over skim it across the dish of soy. The fish was tender and close to room temperature, which was just right.
The ramen featured a pork broth — there isn’t a good way to make pork broth look less like dishwater, is there? — with thin slices of braised pork and assorted vegetables and leaves, plus chewy mushrooms and a medium-hard boiled egg that finished cooking in the hot broth. And, of course, there were the characteristic wavy noodles of a typical ramen soup.
All perfectly acceptable and at $9.80 reasonably priced.
When the young woman who was intended to be my server was suddenly busied with another table, the young chef, who is identified on the website only as Junichi, came out and graciously took my order.
While food and service are commendable, Jimotti’s needs some assistance with the look of the place, both inside and out. The building was obviously once a drive-in restaurant of some sort. The covered walk that cars would pull up to is still there and ramshackle picnic tables are lined up along the walk. At one end is a stack of firewood, which I’m guessing was left behind by the previous tenant, a barbecue and burger place.
I don’t question the cleanliness of the interior, but the unkempt look doesn’t help instill confidence — a problem for any restaurant but a major one that serves sushi. It's not as though it isn't completely undecorated, but I do wonder why Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring has been chosen to adorn a wall of a Japanese restaurant.
And while having the restrooms located in the back of the building, accessible only by going outside, could have a bit of Sanfordian charm, the men’s room would look right at home at a gas station on any back country county road.
Sanford has been upping its culinary game recently, and it’s nice to see a diverse offering of cuisines. Perhaps it the locals will stop in for enough good sushi and ramen, the owners could afford to spiff the place up a bit.
Jimotti’s is at 2545 S. French Ave., Sanford. It is open for lunch Monday through Friday and dinner Tuesday through Saturday. The phone number is 407-952-3329.