2475 North McMullen Booth Road
Clearwater, FL 33759
The sushi disease has infected Tampa, just as it has pretty much everywhere else, barring (perhaps) certain grasslands in Nebraska and the wilds of Upper Mongolia. There is a sushi restaurant on just about every corner, sushi at the grocery store, and sushi-making classes on offer at your nearest convenient library location. Most of this sushi is absolutely horrible. Thus, I'm happy to relate that Kaiko's Sushi in Clearwater is tasty, fresh, and suitable for human consumption. Back away from the Publix stuff. I mean it, you dirty little animal.
Kaiko's is what I'd call a traditional style sushi bar, Thank God. This means the rolls are
1. Small enough so that they can be fit in a standard-issue human mouth.
2. Not drenched in mayonnaise based sauce in wacky colors.
3. Put together with an eye towards fresh ingredients and the interplay of flavors, not with an eye toward "How much random shit can we stuff in this sushi roll for ten bucks? And how much sake do we have to sell to the pale-faces to get em' to eat it?"
All of these elements are Good. The menu is short and exists in the form of a piece of paper on which one marks off one's choices.
Sunonomo salad with seafood. Fresh and a good selection of fish - that's a plus here. Too much vinegar.
The Tampa roll. People in Tampa are nuts for fried grouper, totally nuts and thus this roll - fried grouper and onions, no more, no less. Too simple for me - grouper isn't exactly a hyperactively flavorful fish - but certain family members go nuts for it.
Ah, that's the stuff. I liked the 7-ingredient futomaki, which featured a whole bunch of crunchy vegetables, some preserved, and was very refreshing indeed. Also liked the simple unakyu with avocado and eel. The chopped conch special was all right, but not sure how I feel about the (thankfully not over the top) mayo mixture. Conch on its own is an interesting sort of flavor experience - not sure if that lily needs to be gilded. A very nice sashimi selection - these guys are sourcing and cutting their fish well. I can't stand sashimi that's been cut so thickly and so poorly that one needs a steak knife to get through it.
The two guys next to us were friendly in that older-guys hitting on you in a courtly fashion way to me and my cousin, and we shot the shit merrily throughout dinner. It's a convivial place, and the older guy manning the sushi bar is funny as hell, berating a regular who identified himself as "crazy, just crazy." (Not in my eyes: a lot of middle aged guys trying to seem wacky have this habit of identifying themselves as Crazy, as if I will leap back all astonished and horrified but at the same time aroused. I have (I think) looked into the Eye of Crazy on a couple occasions on my life and you sir, wacky as you may be, do not qualify as bona-fide crazy. That is darker and much more complex. Such things do not need to be discussed over austere and good sushi somewhere in the depths of Clearwater.
I have forgotten where I was going with this.
I recommend Kaiko for back-to-basics sushi in the Clearwater area.