POSTED BY JASON FETTERS, June 20, 2011 Share
It was Saturday night so I hooked up with a friend of mine who hates being named and headed out for sushi. Sometimes I get these food cravings and will stop at nothing to get what I want. Tonight it was all about sushi. Any given Japanese restaurant could have offered me tasty tonkatsu, oyako donburi, or the best sukiyaki in all of Tampa Bay and I would proudly decline. It was all about sushi.
There are so many sushi bars throughout Tampa that makes it hard to try a different place. I usually don't go back to the same sushi restaurant twice unless it is extraordinary like Rangetsu II in Orlando (formerly known as Rangetsu and used to be located on International Drive.) That was the best sushi in Florida, although I don't get out to the Panhandle or the Miami area that often. Better meals could be lurking somewhere.
My friend and I thought about Sakana (Japanese for fish,) right there on Gandy Blvd but a quick glance at the online menu revealed less than satisfying prices. I really wanted sushi within an ideal price range. A couple of websites searches on Google Maps brought out Yoko's. A Japanese restaurant that I have gone to since the early 90's. To me Yoko's was just average when I would go for lunch. There was hardly anyone in Yoko's at all every time I would go around 11am to 1pm. However, when I saw the great price of $4.50 per roll on the online menu that satisfied the cheap guy that I am. Despite massive insane protests from my friend, we headed out.
Arriving at Yoko's on a Saturday night around 6:30ish, I had no idea what to expect. There were still plenty of tables available. However, as soon as we sat down to look at the menu to order. I looked up to see more and more people coming in until no one table was vacant. Yoko's does very well on the Weekends or at least on Saturdays. Having been to Yoko's many times, I wasn't expecting greatness just something cheap. Later on that evening as we left Yoko's there we tables outside with a long line of people waiting just to get in.
The only drawback was the waitress. She was very impatient and would glare at you until you ordered. Nevertheless, I took my sweet time studying the menu. Yoko's does have a lot of sushi rolls to offer at the 4.95 to 5.95 price range, plus they have the better rolls from 7.95 to 12.95. If you take one friend along it is not expensive at all. Trying finding a quality steak for a $6.00 price range in Tampa in a clean well-lite neighborhood. I decided on Hamachi (yellow tail tuna,) and the Dancing Eel, (eel on top of rolled rice with avocado and white tuna inside.) I'm not sure what my friend ordered but he picked the Makimono rolls.(sushi in the cheaper price range.) For two cheap gents, Yoko's was good on that account. My friend also ordered the chicken katsu, which is just fried chicken over steamed rice with tonkatsu sauce.
I settled into my seat with an Asahi Super Dry Beer, miso soup, and a house salad. I wanted a little something before the onslaught of sushi arrived. The miso was average, not that great and the salad was the same salad as any other restaurant out there. No special points there. My friend's chicken katsu arrived and it looked ok. He said it wasn't that great. It was a skimpy chicken portion that most Japanese restaurants would be ashamed to serve. It didn't look good to me at all. It would have worked better in oyako donburi. (chicken and egg over rice.)
The sushi arrived on a big plate, as usual my friend always ordered more than he and I can possibly eat, a table of 6 people could not consume all the rolls on that plate. Here is where I get smart. I only eat what I want. I usually have soup and salad just before so I don't overeat. I eat a couple of rolls from each and then I'm finished. My friend eats the rest and constantly complains of major stomach problems later. Hint: it is not the sushi causing any pain at all, it is the sheer amount of food lodged into a human stomach only designed to handle so much.)
There is where Yoko's shines, in the sushi. You can ignore the entire menu and just have sushi and come out ahead. For the price range, it was good sushi, you just can't expect the higher end sushi from Kobe's Steakhouse or a Rangetsu. With that in mind, if you are a true sushi lover, than Yoko's does a good job or catering to your sushi cravings without breaking the bank. If you want better sushi than you will have to drive to Orlando or head out to Carrollwood for Kaisen sushi or I Ai Sushi at North Dale Mabry and Waters behind the Albertsons.
For service I will give Yoko's a 1 star. My friend complained, which he does so well with every other word, that his hot tea could have been filled three times. The waitress hardly ever talked, she just glared.
For Japanese foods that were not sushi I will give Yoko's 1 star. Looking around the tables at the non sushi items, nothing looked that great. It just looked averaged.
For Sushi I would give Yoko's a 4 for multiple rolls set at cheap and expensive price ranges. You do get what you pay for so if you decide on Yoko's I recommend one cheap and one expensive.
Overall Yoko's get a 3 star out of 5 from me and a recommendation to hire better help.
Directions: Travel North of Gandy Blvd on Macdill ave until you get to a little strip mall off to the left. Just before Bay to Bay.
Next time I would love to find a sushi bar that is close to me in South Tampa that isn't a total disappointed.
"The Asian Aperture" is ©2011 by Jason Fetters. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2011 by Nolan B. Canova.
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