Sushi in Orlando can range from mediocre, sub-par and overpriced, or downright risky; so when I heard rumblings of how good Kabooki sushi was I had to go check it out for myself. I've driven by the location numerous times and didn't even realize it existed. It hides in plain sight in a small strip right across from Fashion Square Mall. Many will say not to let the exterior keep you away, because once inside you quickly forget about the loud, busy traffic of E. Colonial and you enter a cozy environment that feels semi-chic without any trace of snobbery.
One thing I noticed was that the large bright windows are a constant reminder of where you are. I would personally shut out the world with dark tint or curtains, so you can trick your brain that you are nestled in a quiet neighborhood in Orlando and not feet from a busy and less than glamorous strip of highway.
Ambiance aside, our server, who reminded me a Cocoa Beach surfer, greeted us quickly and rattled off some specials from the raw bar and was able to recommend some beers for my craft snob companion.
The menu was overwhelming not because it was large, but because each roll had several fascinating ingredients in them. This is not a place to get a basic California or Salmon roll (although you do have that option). Each roll needed to be carefully studied and even then you have a hard time determining what to order because it all looks so intriguing and delicious. Not to mention you may have to ask some questions, like what exactly is yuzu tartare?
We started off with two salads that could be likened to a high end ginger salad. The Booki Salad was a fresh spring mix, English cucumber, enoki mushrooms, cherry tomatoes with house ginger, and fuji apple ginger dressing. The dressing had bite to it that I was not ready for, but it was very good. I had never had enoki mushrooms before, so that was an added treat.
We decided on our rolls which sadly did not include the decadent sounding “Louis Vuitton” roll. Complete with King crab meat and topped with blow torched wagyu beef. It’s sounded so luxuriously tempting I may have to eventually try this on a return visit. It answers the question I am always trying to answer when I eat: "What would Kayne order?"
Getting down to business, I told my Zack Morris look-alike server that I wanted the "Coconut Lobster" (one of his favorites) and the "American lover" roll. I renamed it the "Merica Roll".
The Coconut roll was filled with tempura lobster, avocado, smelt roe, yuzu tartare,topped with toasted coconut flake and honey kabayaki sauce sauce.
The American lover included a mixed feasting of tuna, salmon, avocado, cream cheese. The whole roll is then tempura fried then topped with baked spicy real blue lump crab salad and lotus root chips finish with honey kabayaki sauce.
Sounds intense, right? Was I able to finish? To be honest the baked blue lump crab atop the American roll was amazing but it was almost too much for me to handle. I ended up picking some lumps off and giving them to my dining companion who was eager to steal any scraps from me. I really loved my Coconut Lobster roll. I could eat that all day.
My sushi enthusiast companion had chosen the "One Night in Bangkok" and a more modest selection of the spicy tuna roll. The Bangkok delivered tempura sweet potato topped with salmon, tuna yellowtail, whitefish in Panang curry sauce with bell pepper and Thai basil.
He was quick to announce that his Sushi was really good, and had it not been for the price point it would easily become his favorite Sushi joint in Orlando. That's just because we order take out on a very regular basis from a College Park sushi joint and its always good and it's cheap, but Kabooki is not eat at home food. It's food to experience and treat yourself with.
Bellies full from two hefty rolls each and our salads my eyes couldn't help but glance at the dessert menu. I hadn't consumed processed sugar in almost two weeks at that point, and I was dying for chocolate. I just happened to find an item on the menu that was worth breaking my sugar-free streak for.
The C-4; flour less chocolate cake with dulce de leche center, Madagascar bourbon vanilla ice cream, and black lava salt. Did you just say "Whaaaaaaaaaaaa" under your breath? So did I upon feasting my eyes on this.
Have you ever ate with that person who practically protests your decision to order dessert, almost acting disgusted by the fact that your stomach could hold more one more bite of food. just to have them try to eat your entire plate upon its arrival? Yeah, that happened, but with good reason. This torte awesome and I can only assume that the dulce de leche center is how it got it's name.
Overall I would have to say this was my favorite Sushi experience in Orlando in a long time. Sushi Pop, Shari Sushi and Amura can hold their own, but Kabooki has won me over. It's comfortable without a downtown pretentious crowd of idiots (like at Shari Sushi), it's worth the price your paying (unlike Amura) and it's not in the middle of nowhere (like Sushi Pop).
I will say to those that dine here, this will not be a cheap meal (depending on how you order) but well worth the splurge. When you do decide to visit I would suggest you make a reservation, especially on the weekends. We were brave souls showing up on Friday evening without a reservation and somehow got seated right away. Every patron to enter after us had to wait.
Check Kabooki Sushi out SOON.
Til next time, eat all the things.