Sus Hi Eatstation

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Sus Hi bowl

Something’s getting lost in the translation. Or at least in the expansion.

When I first reviewed Sus Hi, in July of 2012, it was a nascent fast-fooder on Alafaya Trail near UCF, attempting to do for sushi what Moe’s did for Tex-Mex. It had an exuberant staff that called out “Welcome, Ninja” to each new guest, and they seemed excited about their food and genuinely happy to be serving it.

Now called Sus Hi Eatstation, it has four locations and another opening soon. One of the newer locations is in the Millenia area, and I stopped in there not long ago to see how the concept has fared over the past seven years.

Domu Chibi

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Domu cjhibi ramen room

Domu, the popular East End Market ramenerie, has opened a new concept, Domu Chibi Ramen, in Waterford Lakes. It’s meant to be a quick-serve operation, but they’ve managed to make it quicker serve in at least one aspect.

Instead of giving an order to someone at the counter, customers are prompted to use electronic tablets in front of it to place and pay for an order. Heck, you might even want to leave yourself a tip as you pay, because unlike other quick-serve restaurants, you must go back up to the pick-up counter to fetch your own food. I’m guessing if they could, they’d find away for a non-human to call the names.

Domu cjhibi order

Indeed, the staff behind the counter, just a few feet away from the ordering kiosk, avoid looking at or otherwise acknowledging the arrival of new customers. This seems to be one carryover from the Audubon Park Domu, which, though full service, also has a staff that doesn’t seem to feel the need to be accommodating to its guests.

Naroodle Noodle Shop

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Naroodle noodle top

Central Florida certainly has a lot of dingy strip malls, but I can’t imagine there are too many that are dingier than the one on the southeastern corner of Dean Road and University Boulevard in East Orlando. It always has the look and

feel of a place that is run down and neglected. Ironic then that it seems to attract independent restaurateurs.

Luckily, the interior of one of the newest tenants, Naroodle Noodle shop, a Japanese restaurant specializing in ramen and other noodle-centric dishes, doesn’t reflect the exterior.

The Ramen

Written by Scott Joseph on .

The Ramen ramen

 Why do I think of Edgar Allen Poe every time I hear that name?

Quoth The Ramen “Never pho.”

It wasn’t quite a midnight dreary that I walked downtown blocks so dreary. Though it definitely was in bleak December. And I had to walk past the even bleaker desolation of the deserted Orlando Sentinel parking lot. But The Ramen is anything but a dark and musty chamber. It’s actually quite bright and pristine.

The new restaurant sits on the corner of North Orange Avenue and Amelia Street. Something new in the wave of ramen restaurants that we’ve seen lately, The Ramen is quick-serve: Place your order and pay for it at the counter then take a number stand to a table of your choice. Someone will bring your food to you when it’s ready.

After considering the menu that one of the cheerful greeters gave me, I selected the Shoyu Ramen, which had Shoyu broth, chashu, aji tamago, naruto, menma, green onions and nori.

Translation:

Jinya Ramen Bar

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Jinya black

With the popularity of ramen at a height, it was only a matter of time before we'd see a chain noodle its way into town. It happened with Vietnamese, it's happening with poke, so why not ramen?

Jinya Ramen Bar is the company with a new franchise in Orlando, its first in Florida (oddly, the website lists the names of the cities for locations in other states but the Florida listing is Thornton Park). It took over and remodeled that space in Thornton Park Central that had briefly been Verde Cantina and, before that, a Tijuana Flats.

Jinya kitchen 1

As with many chain operations, Jinya's corporate connections bring advantages and disadvantages. It brought money to turn the space into a moody urban noodle bar with an open kitchen inside the front door, a central bar with seating on three sides, and a sunken dining room at the back.

Nothing I sampled at Jinya on my two visits was less than acceptable. Some things were delightfully better than I expected, some less so.

Urban Hibachi Sushi + Grill

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Urban Hibachi rolls

Urban Hibachi Sushi + Grill, a minichain with three locations spread across Greater Orlando, is really slick. Or at least the Oviedo location I visited is. The decor is bright and modern with minimalist decorations.

I think maybe I just misordered.

Stopping in for lunch, I selected the Makimono Lunch Special, which allows you to choose two selections from a small list of specialty rolls. The two that sounded the most interesting to me were the Sumo and the Tokyo.

Urban Hibachi sumo

The Sumo had escolar and salmon rolled with avocado and scallions with a bit of spicy mayo dotted on top. I somehow missed the note that said the roll was deep fried, but I don't think it would have been a deal killer anyway. I was in the mood for some escolar. Also, not at all sure why this was called the Sumo. No wrestling was involved and they certainly weren't bigger than other rolls.

Jade Sushi & New Asian

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Jade interior

I wanted Jade Sushi & New Asian to be better than it was. I expected it, in fact.

I had not been to this Edgewater Drive address since the restaurant was known as Jade Bistro and, in 2003, replaced a rather sketchy Chinese restaurant that I never had the courage to eat at. Jade Bistro, too, leaned more toward Chinese with its menu, though it did introduce sushi, which at the time was showing up on all types of Asian menus, even some non-Asian ones.

Jade Sushi & New Asian places the sushi more prominently, at least in the name. Sushi traditionalists might be disappointed in a dearth of classic rolls and a preponderance of items with cream cheese.

Umi Makes Magical Dining Month a Little More Magical

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Umi two rolls

How's your Magical Dining Month going? Mine's going great, thanks for asking. If yours needs a boost, I have a suggestion for you: Umi Japanese Restaurant on Park Avenue.

I was invited to sample their MagDinMo menu and I was really impressed. For one thing, Umi offers four courses instead of the usual three that other participating restaurants have. At one point I had to ask to make sure they weren't doing something special for me -- I was assured that everyone gets the same treatment, which includes impressive portions.

Tenji Hibachi Express & Sushi

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Tenji exterior

Japanese food has come to the Hoffner/Belle Isle neighborhood in the form of Tenji Hibachi Express & Sushi, The Express part should convey that this is not a full service restaurant but rather a fast-casual concept. You should also take it as an indicator that the food is modest.

Tenji occupies a sizable storefront facing Conway Road just a couple of doors down from the first Tacos el Rancho.

The menu is also ambitious, with numerous noodle and teriyaki options, nigirzushi and specialty sushi rolls, and of course hibachi entrees, though they're cooked for you in the back rather than you doing it at your table.

Domu

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Domu ramen

On my third visit to Domu I was finally granted a seat. On one visit the restaurant, which does not accept reservations, had a wait of an hour and a half. Nope.

On the second visit, middle of the week, there were dozens of open seats, but the hostess said I would have to wait a while because there were only two waiters on that evening and if she were to seat me I might not be greeted right away. So, the logic was, stand here and wait instead of being seated and wait. Nope.

But that proverbially charming third time worked. I was shown an ideal seat at the food bar — there is a bar-bar, too, but they won’t serve ramen there; I would have asked for an explanation of the logic in that but…see above.

Ah, yes, ramen. That is Domu’s raison d’etre, or dearu koto ni kiin shimasu in Japanese. The noodley soups have been enjoying a resurgence in popularity, and Domu does them nicely.