During February, Scott Joseph's Orlando Restaurant Guide is featuring restaurants that are Black-owned or that have Black chefs in observance of Black History Month.
Albert Eugene DeSue, formerly chef at the now defunct Yuki Hana, has taken over kitchen duties at Boku Sushi & Grill, one of several restaurants at the new Maitland City Centre.
Maitland City Centre (which I’m pretty sure is pronounced SAHN-tray, is a big new multi-use complex that is now the hamlet’s de facto downtown. The Centre’s website reads, “You might feel as though you’ve been transported to a dynamic, open-air plaza straight out of your favorite European escape.”
But you might feel like you’re not in Maitland anymore.
And the Centre already has an impressive array of restaurants, including independents like Houndstooth Kitchen & Eatery, Outpost Neighborhood Kitchen and Sanford Brewing Company, with others to come.
But today, Boku.
It’s a small but attractive space next to the parking garage with an entrance underneath a portico. To one side is a sushi bar with extra tables and booths and to the other side is a small dining room with booths. Behind the host stand and a wall of wine and sake bottles is the kitchen area, where DeSue could be spotted.
Since the kitchen foods are his milieu, let’s start with the grill. For an entree I ordered the red curry shrimp, more Thai-like than Japanese, but with wonderful spicing and a balance of cool coconut. The eight shrimp were served on two skewers and were nestled in the red-dotted yellow gravy along with big chunks of onions and red peppers and creamy-textured marble potatoes. On top was a scattering of crabmeat and sprig of basil. Although I would have preferred to have the shrimp tails removed, I found the complete dish quite satisfying, especially with the abundant curry poured over the white rice that accompanied.
I also got an order of gyoza, pork filled dumpling with crisply seared exteriors.
From the sushi menu I ordered a spider roll and tiger roll, neither of which contained its named ingredient.
The spider roll, of course, featured a breaded and fried soft-shell crab with avocado and pickled root and lettuce and green flying fish roe, for crunch and pop, wrapped inside a chewy nori.
The tiger roll featured a soy paper wrapping with tuna, salmon, yellowtail and avocado inside. Both were fine, though a bit on the small side.
The online ordering system was simple to use and allowed for prepayment, with tip added, and for pickup at a future time. I selected the earliest pickup, which was 30 to 35 minutes, though my order wasn’t ready for some time after that.