The best thing I had at Maki Hibachi, a new sushi and Japanese restaurant uniquely situated in a self-storage complex in Downtown Orlando, was something called Drunken Tuna.
It featured loosely chopped raw tuna on wafers with a slice of avocado in between. Atop the tuna were dollops of spicy mayo and a bit of fish roe along with artistically placed micro greens. The tuna was cool and fresh and the wafers – menu called them crackers but these were less crispy – added a different texture. And although I couldn’t detect anything that would warrant the drunken designation, I liked the bit of spiritedness in the spicy mayo. It was a delicious appetizer.
Unfortunately, what followed was mostly mundane.
My companion’s spider roll, with breaded and fried soft-shell crab, avocado and asparagus, was rather flavorless, and featured an “end cut” that was much too large to be eaten in one bite. What was more surprising was that the nori wrappers had not been cut through, so picking up one of the “coins” plulled the wrapper of the one next to it along, unraveling the whole thing. Knife skills are ichiban for a sushi chef.
I ordered the New York strip dinner from the hibachi menu, which featured small cubes of tender steak grilled with carrots, onions and zucchini and served with a massive mound of fried rice. The rice needed seasoning and the steak benefitted from the white yum-yum sauce. The dinner came with a bowl of miso soup and a simple salad, and I must say that at $18 it represented a good value.
The space is pleasantly appointed and you might forget you’re surrounded by storage rooms filled with the belongings of possible hoarders. There is a sushi bar with plexiglass separated the chefs and hibachi cooks from the guests. Most seating is at booths and banquettes with minimal spacing.
Maki Hibachi Downtown is a second location for a Lake Nona restaurant. It is at 106 E. Colonial Drive, Orlando (map). It is open for lunch and dinner daily. The website link currently contains only information for the Lake Nona location. The phone number is 407-730-4355.