Written by Scott Joseph on .

Kadence Painting

I would say that Kadence is one of the best restaurants in Central Florida but I’m not sure that it is. A restaurant, I mean.

Sure, it meets most of the criteria: It prepares and serves food for which customers pay; beverages are available; full service is provided.

But those components are applied in such a way as to produce something unique.

For starters, you don’t so much as make a reservation to dine here as you do buy a ticket. You essentially pay for your meal in advance and your purchase is nonrefundable, just as it would be if you were buying a ticket to a performance, which in a way you are. The policy helps to cut down on the number of no-shows and lessens the pain if a booked seat goes empty.

Because there are only nine seats in the place.

Wave Asian Bistro & Sushi

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Wave sushi

I had a meeting in Mount Dora recently so I decided to combine the trip with a visit to Wave Asian Bistro & Sushi. I'm glad I didn't make a special drive just to eat at this new restaurant. Much of the experience was merely mediocre.

A sushi appetizer of assorted nigirizushi, including shrimp, salmon, tuna and surimi, was lifeless.

The Beef Rice Bowl was disappointing, too, but mainly because I had ordered the Chicken Tempura. With my appointment time looming, I just accepted the dish, which featured bits of chewy beef in a heavy soy based sauce and a sprinkling of sesame seeds.


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Rumaku interior

I was up Oviedo way the other day so I decided to stop in a try Rumaku, a quick-serve sushi joint that opened recently.

Let’s talk about how important first impressions are. They’re very important. Any questions?

I bring it up because the second that I walked through the front door, I was met with two divergent impressions. The first was from the pleasant young man behind the counter who greeted me warmly. It may just have been that he was happy to see anyone given that there were no other customers in the small storefront space at the time, which was still during the lunch hour.

The other impression hit me almost as immediately as the welcome. It was a rather putrid smell that permeated the air. I couldn’t quite place it, but it was a definite assault on the nostrils.

Gentle diner, I submit to you that unpleasant smells in any restaurant should never be part of the ambience. But in a sushi restaurant such aromas are especially unwelcome.


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Sushigami booths

Sushigami might be considered Japanese fast food.

How fast?

I’m guessing a couple of miles an hour.

Sushigami is a sushi bar with a twist. Or more precisely, a twirl. Guests sit at a sushi counter or at one of the booths and plates of sushi rolls roll by on a tiny conveyor belt that snakes along a winding path. If you see something that you like or that looks good to you, you lift the dome-covered plate from the belt and enjoy.

This is not a new concept. It’s not even new to Orlando, and Sushigami has been at its location in Florida Mall for a while.

Sodo Sushi Bar and Grill

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Sodo Sushi bar

Sodo has a new sushi bar and grill. It’s called Sodo Sushi Bar and Grill. It took over the space of the oft troubled Olv, whose name had no hidden meaning or acronymic message. Sodo, or SoDo, is shorthand for south of downtown, which is where it is.

And that’s a good place for this new restaurant, too, because there aren’t any other sushi joints anywhere nearby. Bars and grills, yes, but not sushi bars and grills.

All that seems to have been required to transform the Olv space into a sushi restaurant was to plop a refrigerated case on top of the bar. Voila — or dekiagari, as they say in Japan — sushi bar.

That’s where I sat when I visited recently, under the unwatchable glare of Godzilla-sized television screens.

Makis Place

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Makis Place interior

Here’s one of those little clues that can tell you you’re in a restaurant where the staff really doesn’t give a squat.

The restaurant is empty, even at the height of lunch hour. The sole person in the front of the house (not that you need more than one in an empty room) is sitting down when you come in. She tells you to sit wherever you like, and you choose a booth that has on its tabletop four placemats with information about the restaurant and the dining experience. And the placemats are upside down.

With nothing else to do, you’d think that an enterprising staffer would make sure the tables were properly set and waiting for guests, should any happen to arrive. But no, not here. Not at Makis Place.

Sushi Cafe

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SushiCafe sushi

Here’s a twist on the all-you-can-eat promotion, and I can’t decide if it’s a brilliant way of getting people to eat less or a dastardly ploy to get them to eat too much.

But first off, let me say that Sushi Cafe, the mundanely named restaurant that opened several months ago at the corner of University Boulevard and Goldenrod Road in Winter Park, does very good sushi. In fact, the nigirizushi that I sampled was among some of the most masterfully prepared that I’ve had in a long time. The pads were perfectly shaped, not too big, and the fish slices were properly placed on them so that one could turn the piece completely over so as to dip the fish in the soy — rather than the rice, which never turns out well — without the fish flopping off. Both the tuna and the mackerel were the right temperature, not so cold as to stun the flavor.Sushicafe gyoza

And the roll that I had, the egotistically named Yummy Yummy, which had avocado and krab inside a rice cocoon with crispy fried flakes on the outside.

It was all so good that I could have eaten more, but I was too frightened.

Sushi Cafe features and all-you-can-eat option for $12.99 at lunch and $14.99 at dinner. You can have an appetizer (although the gyoza that I ordered weren’t all that) and as much nigiri, sashimi or rolls that you want. But there’s a catch.

Think of the signs that General Eisenhauer was said to have put in the mess halls of the soldiers under his command: “Take all you want, but eat all you take.”

Sushi Cafe has added a couple of rules to its all-you-can-eat option. If you order too much, you’ll be charged 75 cents for each uneaten piece. Fine, you say, I’ll just take the leftovers with me. In that case, each leftover piece you want boxed up will incur a $1.50 charge.

I get it. The restaurant is offering what is, according to my quick math, a pretty good deal with its ayce option. Some people, however, might (will) simply over order and leave a great deal of food go to waste. And I don’t find the extra charge to take the food home out of order, either. Again, some people might (would) over order and then ask for a to-go box for the leftovers. Refusing to provide one is not uncommon in glutfest restaurants, in which case the food gets wasted anyway. Here at least is an option to enjoy the food later, at a still reasonable rate.

Unfortunately, I think more people will tend to stuff as much of the uneaten sushi into their cheeks to avoid the surcharge.

The way it worked for me? I ordered a moderate amount of food that still made the all-you-can-eat option attractive but did not have me tempted to eat more. Still, I would have loved another round of the Yummy Yummy roll.

Sushi Cafe is at 7550 University Blvd., Winter Park, in the Winn-Dixie plaza. It is open for lunch and dinner daily. The phone number is 407-960-5722.

Sushicafe cafe

Izziban Sushi and BBQ

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 Izziban interior

This is undoubtedly the largest sushi restaurant I’ve ever seen. Izziban Sushi & BBQ occupies a warehouse sized building on the shore of Lake Barton, which lies between Semoran Boulevard and Orlando Executive Airport. There have been a few failed businesses here, including a gay bar.

There is an immense indoor dining area and a couple of very large sushi bars, including one that is shaped like the bow of a big boat. There is also a large covered patio, screened in but with nice views of the lake and planes taking off from the airport. Its rusticity is more suitable for the type of fried foods you’d find at fish camps, but it isn’t inappropriate for sushi to be associated with a waterfront locale.

Shari Sushi Lounge

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Shari overlook

Today we welcome Shari Sushi Lounge to the flog. (Everybody say Hey, Shari.) If you’ve read my statement about advertisers on the site, you know that not just anyone can have an ad displayed in these pages. In order to keep the integrity of SJO high, only restaurants that meet my standards of quality may present themselves here for your consideration. And in case you’re wondering, yes, I’ve said no to a number of requests to advertise here, and I’ve dropped some restaurants whose quality flagged. If you don’t believe me, ask Nicole Spooner, my sales rep.

So when Nicole said that Shari would like to come on board I said, “Hmmm, it’s been a while since I’ve been there; I’d better go back and check them out.” After a couple of recent visits, I’m wondering why I hadn’t been back in so long. Everything I tasted was terrific.

RA Sushi

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ra vegas

The two initials in the name RA Sushi don't seem to stand for anything. Instead, apparently, they're to be pronounced like the state of most of the fish that is served in sushi: raw. It's a stretch, but it's the only explanation I can come up with for the sushi bar and restaurant that opened recently at Pointe Orlando.

RA got its start in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 1997 and over the next few years added some more locations in the Phoenix area. Then, in 2002, Benihana Inc. snatched up the company and has since been slowly adding locations outside of the Valley of the Sun. The Orlando location is the fourth in Florida. I was invited recently along with a guest to sample some of RA's raw goods.

What struck us both about the various rolls that we sampled was that each was distinct. Too many times sushi bars prepare their rolls with interchangeable dressings and garnishes. They tend to look the same, even if the ingredients within the rolls are different. Each of RA's rolls was unique.