Sushi for me, sushi for you – giveaway!

Takara Sushi & Sake LoungeI am thrilled to say that members of the Tampa Bay Bloggers were treated to a night of yummy goodness when Takara Sushi and Saki Lounge revealed their new spring menu. Read on, because there is a GIVEAWAY for you at the bottom!

Takara is a Tampa area restaurant near Bearss and Bruce B. Downs. It’s not huge, but is nicely broken down into a front lounge / waiting area with sofas, a bar area, booths, and tables that can be slid together for large groups. They decor has pretty, aquatic details – and I loved the gold flecks in the ladies’ room wallpaper.

I drove to Takara with Caroline and (her +1) Kelly. Caroline and I live near each other, and it was nice to have someone to carpool with. It was horrible timing to be driving through Tampa, but after you see the treats we devoured, you’ll understand why it’s so worth it to drive to Takara!

Our long blogger table had a special menu for the evening. Some of our items were sample portion sizes, and some were full menu sizes. I’m allergic to cucumbers (weird, I know) and every one of their sushi rolls contains cucumber. I was given my own Jabadahut roll (say that one out loud! Ha!), made specially without cucumber, but could not try the other sushi rolls. This was our menu for the night:

Starters

Ceviche

Ceviche:  White fish marinated in lime juice, tossed with celery, red pepper, red onion & cilantro. I’m not sure what ceviche was doing in a sushi place, but the raw fish concept makes sense and the flavor was wonderful! We had 2 large slices of white fish, not chopped fish like you would see if it had Spanish flair.

Avocado&TofuSaladAvocado & Tofu Salad: Chopped tofu, avocado, cherry tomatoes tossed in a honey miso dressing. I don’t usually like miso, but the honey offered a perfect balance. This was light, fresh vegetarian fair with a sweet touch from the sauce.

Crab Cake: Lump crab with a panko crunch over wilted spinach, topped with alfalfa sprouts, served with mustard aioli. Delicious!

DynamiteMusselsDynamite Mussel: Baked mussel with mayo, scallions, smelt roe & wasabi. I’ve only had mussels at Carrabbas in garlicy broth. This was a delicious alternative.

Spicy Tuna Spoon: Spicy Tuna, avocado, mango, smelt roe & scallions tossed in a spicy sesame sauce, served over mixed greens. These flavors were totally up my alley and I could eat a martini glass full of this any day.

tunaspoon-811

Sambuca Shrimp: Shrimp sautéd with fennel, shallots & red pepper, tossed in a Sambuca red curry coconut milk with cayenne seasoning. I don’t like fennel, so this was not for me. But I ate the veggies under the shrimp and loved the red curry coconut milk with cayenne seasoning!

Main

MisoSeabassMiso Seabass: This light white fish was grilled to perfection with sweet sesame soy, served with asparagus and white rice. A wonderful meal choice if you bring that friend who likes cooked fish but won’t eat sushi.

Gal Be: The chef used his family recipe for these Korean barbecue short ribs with onions, carrots & green onions. The flavor was great, but my meat was tough and hard to chew.

JabadahutRollJabadahut Roll: My specially made sushi roll had tempura grouper and crab salad with avocado and red onion rolled in seaweed & rice, topped with tuna – then sliced into sushi bites served in a circle with a delectable topping of – surprisingly – little tempura scallop balls & a little scoop of crab salad. All of this was decorated with eel sauce, yum yum sauce & sweet chili sauce. This honestly could have been a meal unto itself, so most of it came home in a box with me. My daughter gobbled it up before I had even put my purse down by the sofa.

And more sushi I could not try that looked so pretty on the tray

DJ Roll:  Crab salad, avocado, cucumber & cream cheese, wrapped in soy paper & rice, served panko style with eel sauce & yum yum sauce

Naruto Roll:  Tuna or salmon, crab delight, asparagus, wrapped in cucumber, served with ponzu or vinaigrette sauce

LEFTSurf&TurfRollSurf & Turf:  Shrimp & crab salad, red onion & cucumber, rolled in seaweed & rice, topped with torched thinly sliced beef, cilantro, smelt roe, scallion & tempura onion, served with house special sauce & cilantro aioli

Salmon Delight Roll:  Spicy salmon, cucumber, avocado & scallion, rolled in rice & seaweed, topped with salmon, lemon slices & smelt roe

Yummy Sumo Roll:  Tempura shrimp, crab mix, avocado, asparagus & cucumber, wrapped in seaweed & rice, topped with tuna & salmon, served with eel sauce & spicy mayo

White Dragon Roll:  Eel, crab, cream cheese & cucumber, rolled in seaweed & rice, topped with escolar & avocado, served with spicy mayo, eel sauce & yum yum sauce

Tiger Eye Roll:  Salmon, cream cheese, crab, asparagus, cucumber, smelt roe, scallion, shrimp, wrapped in seaweed & whitefish, topped with spicy mayo, baked, served with eels sauce & spicy mayo

Torched Salmon Roll:  Tempura shrimp, crab delight, avocado & cucumber, rolled in seaweed & rice, topped with torched salmon, tempura jalapeno, served with eel sauce & spicy mayo.

Dessert

TempuraFriedIceCreamTempura Fried Ice-cream: Vanilla ice-cream wrapped in pound cake & a tempura batter served on a plate decorated with almost-too-pretty-to-eat chocolate, blackberry & raspberry sauces. There was also whipped cream that blended with the sauces and ice cream as soon as I dipped my spoon in. A delightful, sugary treat!

Next to me, Jenny had her 3 kids and they had a larger dessert to share: The Banana Bomb! 3-4 bananas wrapped in spring roll skin and deep fried. These were standing up and then topped with & dark chocolate slivers. Hidden inside was vanilla ice-cream topped with sliced almonds, whipped cream & it was all decorated with assorted sauces. The sauces looked just as pretty as mine, and I wanted to swipe my finger through them and lick it – so badly!

mochiThey also had mochi ice cream, which is new to me. Picture something like those little French macaron cookies that are so popular right now, but instead it is pounded rice on the outside and ice cream on the inside.

Her children ordered their meals off the kids menu, which I was surprised to see includes french fries. Each item on the kids menu is under $7.

We also had drinks! Their new flavor infused sakis have fun, fruity flavors. I tried a mini shot-glass sized strawberry which was NOT too sweet, a common complaint of mine. Caroline tried a few of the flavors after I offered to drive home. They paired the sushi portion of our dinner with a sweet saki almost like a rose champagne. I hear that if you check in on Facebook while you are there and leave a post on their wall, you can show the post to your server to receive either a free shot of infused sake or a free Mochi ice cream!

Thank you so much to Takara Sushi and Carlos of Carlos Eats who helped me sneak in with 2 hours to spare – for a delicious evening. Caroline almost had to roll me home! I will definitely be making the drive from St. Pete to New Tampa again with my whole family in tow. Eugenia, the owner, was so sweet. It’s not often you get treated to dinner, and a gift card, and photos to show off the food perfectly!

Would you like to try this Asian sensation? I have two $20 gift cards to give away to two of my readers! Please follow them on Twitter www.twitter.com/takarasushifl AND leave a comment on this post telling me your best sushi memory, and I will pick two winners on April 7. One random drawing, and one story that I like the most.

You can also learn more about Takara Sushi here:  www.TakaraSushiTampa.com

My best sushi memory was in NYC in 2011. I was at a small blogger conference, and had dinner at Sushi Samba with Natalie from She Takes on the World. We had just met, and used dinner to shoot the breeze, and used the server’s knowledge to determine what to order. I recommend their Shishito appetizer – small, sweet green peppers grilled and sprinkled with lemon juice – and the Green Envy sushi roll – which instead of seaweed had a wasabi pea crust filled with tuna, salmon, asparagus, and aji amarillo-key lime mayo.

Enough about me – go order some Takara sushi and then tell me your favorite sushi memory below!

{Disclosure: I was invited to this event by Takara Sushi and provided with food for free. I was also given a gift card to use on my next visit, and two gift cards to give away on my blog. All opinions are my own.}

14 Replies to “Sushi for me, sushi for you – giveaway!”

  1. My best sushi memory was the first time I tried sushi. I was invited to a friends birthday dinner at a local sushi place. Each of my friends let me try what they ordered and allowed me to open my horizons to this delicious food! In my opinion, this is the best way to try sushi for the first time – with a bunch of friends who will guide you in the right direction. 🙂

  2. We had a favorite Chinese (I know, right?) restaurant in Maryland called Sonny Lee’s that had the BEST sushi. The seafood was so fresh, but it was also Sonny and the rest of the staff that we loved. We took some friends there from church on Valentine’s Day. As we went to Sonny’s a LOT, we were considered regulars, and that night, regulars got a special treat. Our waiter handed the four adults (kids were with us) a fortune cookie and said, “adult only.” We thought, “What in the world?” Well, these little fortune cookies were XXX rated. Oh my word. I was mortified for my friend to see what was written on those little slips of paper! The sushi was great, but I’m afraid that is not what my friends will remember…

  3. Margarita says:

    I’m so bummed I missed this. Caroline’s pictures made me jealous all night. I had salmon and asparagus for dinner that night. Still good but not a free sushi extravaganza!

    I didn’t start to like sushi until a couple of years ago. It’s my husband’s favorite food ever so we’d go for his birthday every year and I’d order some hot food combo platter thing. We’d eat at a place called Bentos in Gainesville almost once a week and I wouldn’t touch the stuff (their general tsos chicken is super delicious).

    It wasn’t until I got brave enough to try smoked salmon with eel sauce that I gave in a little and now we go pretty often to the sushi place down the street–no special occasion or persuasion necessary. I guess it was an acquired taste for me? Sort of like coffee and I love me some Starbucks now.

  4. Crystal H says:

    My Sushi Memory is a little embarrassing. It was the very first time I tried sushi and I was with my high school best friend: Jared. I trusted him and looked to him for my sushi guidance. He ordered us a roll (I don’t remember which one) and some eel. I was squeamish, but gave each piece a shot and loved it. Then he said “See the green stuff? It is really good, but really light tasting. Try some by itself.” I gave it an Eww face and picked up a little bit on my chopsticks. He said “No, you need more…you won’t even taste it with that amount” I proceeded to put a large 1/2 teaspoon size of Wasabi in my mouth. Ugggh. I can still taste it today. That was the first and last time I ever ate wasabi. I did however eat a lot of sushi after that. 🙂

    I followed them on twitter too!

  5. Donna says:

    I followed them on Twitter…but my Twitter is private.

    My friend took me to a Japanese buffet recently while we were in Boca Raton. They had a sushi bar, and they were the first restaurant I’ve seen that labels whether their sushi was cooked or not! I thought that was really neat, as I’m still scared to try raw sushi! This is the first time that I also came back for seconds for sushi. I guess I have more appreciation for sushi now and hopefully soon, I’ll be brave enough to try raw sushi.

  6. Amanda j says:

    My best (or worst) sushi memory was the first time I tried it. I was eager and took my first bite, and then my date told me that the outside was rolled in fish eggs. Needless to say, the restaurant had fish eggs on their floor that night! At least it didn’t prevent me from trying it again. Now I’m hooked!

  7. Amanda j says:

    My Best, or should I say worse, memory of sushi was my first time trying it. I was eager to try it and was out on a first date, I took my first bite and then my date told me that it was rolled in fish eggs. Needless to say, the restaurant had fish eggs on their floor that night. At least it didn’t stop me from trying it again. Now I am hooked! :0)

  8. I’m so glad you came with me and drove home! It was a fabulous evening…the leftover sushi was still delicious the next day for lunch 🙂

  9. Bstone says:

    It was 2001 and I was in NYC on a top secret mission for Congress. I had just left the worlds my famous sushi restaurant when I saw them. It was certainly the KGB and they were closing in on me quickly. So I ran faster than Forrest Gump but it was too late. There was a Rusky waiting for me at the end of the block. He pulled out his pistol and shot me in the chest, point blank. Luckily, I had fallen in love with the shrimp nigiri and decided to smuggle some out on my shirt pocket. Apparently one of the shrimp had the shell left on it. It acted like a bullet proof best and saved my life. Hands trembling and all, I ate what was left of that shrimp nigiri and hopped the next train to the Pentagon. That was my best sushi memory.

  10. Steph says:

    How fun!! And what delicious-looking food! Wish I lived in Tampa!

    I tried sushi for the first time on a trip to visit my family in Hawaii right after I graduated from high school–hated it! Tried it again this past year, most recently at the Japanese restaurant in Epcot, and loved it! Hope to get some more soon!

    Thanks for sharing!

  11. Nikki says:

    I have a fond, albeit hazy memory of eating copious amounts of sushi at Hamada inside the Rio in Vegas after a long night of blackjack. My friend and I ordered a good portion of the menu and were informed that there was no way that two girls could eat all of that. Wrong. The eel roll was the big winner of that particular night.

  12. Jen says:

    My mouth is watering reading all of these awesome sushi recaps. Sadly I am a sushi virgin. I know I know. My husband does not eat seafood so I have never been. I need to get some girlfriends together and go. I know I am missing out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read More by Topic