Takara Sushi spring menu preview

March 22, 2013 at 12:26 pm

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

A couple of nights ago I had the pleasure of attending a spring menu preview at Takara Sushi in New Tampa.

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I grabbed my IRunMommies friend Kelly and my blogger friend Raffi and we headed out into rush hour traffic to make our way from St. Pete to north Tampa. Luckily the good company easily offset the terrible traffic, and we made it before they ran out of sushi.

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I loved the modern, ocean-inspired décor of Takara Sushi.

My Fascinating Life Caroline Calcote-2(say, “Hi!” to my awesome food blogger friend Jennifer, of Mangiamo!)

I was only joking when I suggested that they might run out of sushi. Be prepared for a jealousy-inspiring mouth-watering parade of food photos to follow. They fed us well.

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Here was our menu for the evening:

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Starter

 

Ceviche

White fish marinated in lime juice, tossed with celery, red pepper, red onion & cilantro

 

Avocado & Tofu Salad

Chopped tofu, avocado, cherry tomatoes tossed in a honey miso dressing

 

Crab Cake

Lump crab over wilted spinach, topped with alfalfa sprouts, served with mustard aioli

 

Dynamite Mussels

Baked mussels with mayo, scallions, smelt roe & wasabi

 

Spicy Tuna Bowl

Spicy Tuna, avocado, mango, smelt roe & scallions tossed in a spicy sesame sauce, served over mixed greens

 

Sambuca Shrimp

Shrimp, sauté with fennel, shallots & red pepper, tossed in a Sambuca red curry coconut milk with cayenne seasoning

                                                                                                                      

 

Main

 

Miso Seabass

Grilled with sweet sesame soy, served with asparagus and white rice

 

Gal Be

Korean barbecue short ribs with onions, carrots & green onions, served with white rice

 

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

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.

Surf & 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

Jabadahut Roll

Tempura grouper, avocado, red onion, cucumber, crab salad, rolled in seaweed & rice, topped with tuna,

served with tempura scallops & crab salad with eel sauce, yum yum sauce & sweet chili sauce.

                                                                                                                                            

 

Dessert

 

Tempura Fried Ice-cream

Vanilla ice-cream wrapped in pound cake & a tempura batter served with chocolate, blackberry & raspberry sauces

 

If you are thinking that seems like a lot of food, you would be correct. We were given tasting portions of everything, but Takara also provided us with photos of their regular-sized portions. I’m going to show you both, so you’ll know what we had as well as what you will get when you visit Takara (and you are going to want to visit them ASAP, believe me).

First up was the Ceviche.

My Fascinating Life Caroline Calcote-3White fish marinated in lime juice, tossed with celery, red pepper, red onion & cilantro

As you can see above, I also tried several of their flavors of infused sake. I tried the Fuji apple, White peach, and Lychee flavors. I think my favorite was the Fuji apple. The Lychee tasted like sweet perfume. I noticed on the Takara Sushi Facebook page that if you check in on Facebook 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!

When I posted that photo on Instagram one of my friends basically asked, “Is this Spanish or Japanese?” Takara definitely had some progressive menu items, deliciously fusing Japanese flavors with preparations usually seen in other cuisines. The ceviche was delicious. The regular menu size portion looks like this:

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Next up was the Avocado and Tofu salad:

My Fascinating Life Caroline Calcote-4Chopped tofu, avocado, cherry tomatoes tossed in a honey miso dressing

The avocado and tofu have a similar texture which was interesting and the honey miso dressing was so good.

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Crab cake! Who doesn’t love a crab cake!

My Fascinating Life Caroline Calcote-5Lump crab over wilted spinach, topped with alfalfa sprouts, served with mustard aioli

The use of panko instead of traditional bread crumbs made this crab cake extra crunchy and awesome.

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Dynamite Mussels:

My Fascinating Life Caroline Calcote-7Baked mussels with mayo, scallions, smelt roe & wasabi

It’s very hard for me not to do a Jimmie Walker impression in my head and say that these mussels were DYN-O-MITE! Because they were.

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I don’t think I’ve ever had mussels with mayonnaise before, and I highly recommend it.

Spicy Tuna Bowl, or spoon in our case:

My Fascinating Life Caroline Calcote-8(Thanks to my friend Carlos of Carlos Eats for snapping this photo with my camera for me.)

Full portion:

My Fascinating Life Caroline Calcote Takara Sushi-12Spicy Tuna, avocado, mango, smelt roe & scallions tossed in a spicy sesame sauce, served over mixed greens

Sambuca Shrimp:

My Fascinating Life Caroline Calcote-9Shrimp, sauté with fennel, shallots & red pepper, tossed in a Sambuca red curry coconut milk with cayenne seasoning

The red curry coconut milk sauce in this dish was incredible. We were all oohing and ahhing over it.

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Wow, what a great meal. Oh wait, that was just the appetizers! I had to start pacing myself at this point because I KNEW that sushi was still to come. But not quite yet…

The first main course tasting was the Miso Seabass.

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The lighting in the restaurant was very dim by this point as it had become dark outside, so I had resorted to using my flash. But you can really see the difference between my little point and shoot photos versus the professional ones, I know. The full entrée portion:

My Fascinating Life Caroline Calcote Takara Sushi-8Grilled with sweet sesame soy, served with asparagus and white rice

Next up was Gal Be, or Korean short ribs.

My Fascinating Life Caroline Calcote-11Korean barbecue short ribs with onions, carrots & green onions, served with white rice

I was really trying to save room for sushi at this point, but the short ribs were so delicious. I know Chad and the boys would really love them.

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And finally, drumroll please…the sushi arrived!

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Wow, so beautiful. I feel sorry for all of our +1’s because they had to sit there drooling while all us bloggers snapped photos. There were literally chop sticks poised over the THREE platters identical to the one above that were placed on our tables. It was sushi heaven. My plate (before I went back to snag more pieces later):

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Here are all of the rolls broken down into menu portions:

DJ Roll

Crab salad, avocado, cucumber & cream cheese, wrapped in soy paper & rice,

served panko style with eel sauce & yum yum sauce

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Jabadahut Roll

Tempura grouper, avocado, red onion, cucumber, crab salad, rolled in seaweed & rice, topped with tuna,

served with tempura scallops & crab salad with eel sauce, yum yum sauce & sweet chili sauce.

My Fascinating Life Caroline Calcote Takara Sushi-7

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.

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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

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Yummy Sumo Roll

Tempura shrimp, crab mix, avocado, asparagus & cucumber, wrapped in seaweed & rice,

topped with tuna & salmon, served with eel sauce & spicy mayo

My Fascinating Life Caroline Calcote Takara Sushi-17

Naruto Roll

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

My Fascinating Life Caroline Calcote Takara Sushi-9

Salmon Delight Roll

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

My Fascinating Life Caroline Calcote Takara Sushi-10


Surf & 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

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And finally, there was a Tiger Eye Roll, but I somehow have lost the photo in all of my file transfers! So sorry Takara. I’m going to see if I can get it from one of my fellow bloggers and I’ll update.

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

 

Everything was just so delicious. I think my favorite roll may have been the White Dragon roll, but it would be really hard to say. I just really love Unagi (eel). Plus, isn’t the dragon super cute?

As we were all loosening our belts and rubbing our bellies, our server showed up with one more over-the-top item…Tempura Fried Ice Cream.

My Fascinating Life Caroline Calcote-15Vanilla ice-cream wrapped in pound cake & a tempura batter served with chocolate, blackberry & raspberry sauces

Um, can you read that tiny font? WRAPPED IN POUND CAKE! As if ice cream and tempura batter were not enough. It was amazing, needless to say.

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Thank you so much to Takara Sushi for a wonderful evening. 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 gracious and sweet. She said to me, “I love your blog! I am addicted to it! I don’t know why, but I can’t stop reading!” Haha. She stole my heart with that. Thank you so much Eugenia!

So would you like to try some of this delicious fare for free? Eugenia is so nice that she gave me two $20 gift cards to give away to two of my readers! Just leave a comment telling me what your favorite type of sushi is and I will have Mack pick two winners by April 1st. This giveaway is closed. The winners have been notified via e-mail. Congratulations to Meghan and Ann!

And it would be so nice if you would “Like” Takara Sushi on Facebook and follow them on Twitter. I won’t be checking up on that, but it would just be nice.

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Facebook www.facebook.com/takarasushitampa           Foursquare www.foursquare.com/takarasushifl

Twitter www.twitter.com/takarasushifl                            Website www.TakaraSushiTampa.com

Takara Sushi is located at 4913 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., Tampa, FL 33613

Cya!

Takara Sushi & Sake Lounge on Urbanspoon

The Container Store Tampa preview

March 14, 2013 at 10:00 pm

If you live in the Tampa Bay area, chances are that you received this in the mail recently:

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That’s right…we’re getting our very own Container Store! Hurrah!

I read a bunch of home improvement blogs and love to watch home improvement television shows despite the fact that I live in a disheveled shoe box of a house. It seems like half of the time when they have some great organization or storage item on these blogs and shows that the item came from The Container Store, and we didn’t have one! It was always a bummer. So when I heard that The Container Store was coming to Tampa I was psyched. When I got invited to a preview of the new store I could hardly contain myself! (sorry for that)

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A group of my blogger buddies and I were so excited that we arrived early and were chatting it up in the parking lot when Elaine, one of the stores employees who specializes in opening their new stores, came out to corral us and welcomed us into the store.

Ahhhh, it was like Mecca with over 25,000 square feet and over 10,000 products.

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Just being in the store makes you feel more organized.

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Elaine offered us all a boxed lunch…

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and directed us to some chairs sporting some pretty lush goody bags (more on these goody bags later).

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While we ate she told us all about The Container Store. The Tampa store is the 59th Container Store and the third in Florida. Tampa was the most requested location from their Facebook fans! Yay for social media! Be sure to check out The Container Store’s Tampa Facebook page!

Elaine told us all about The Container Store’s “employees first” philosophy. They believe that happy employees = happy customers. Their full-time employees receive more than 263 hours of training, mostly focusing on product knowledge…compare that to the retail industry average of just seven to 10 hours of training where they mostly focus on how to work the register! They have been on Fortune Magazine’s “top 100 companies to work for” list for 14 years in a row, including being #1 several times. After hearing all about it I was considering applying for a job. Check out their blog, The Container Store: What We Stand For, for more information about their seven Foundation Principles, commitment to local communities, employee-first practices and fun company events and celebrations.

After learning all about the company, Elaine took us for a tour through the 16 lifestyle sections of the store, such as closet, kitchen, office, travel, gift packaging and laundry. First up was closet:

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She made a very convincing argument in favor of their transparent shoe boxes.

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I now feel that I really need a case of them.

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They have over 200 different varieties of hangers in 80 different styles! Seriously!

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My friend Adrianna of Military Money Chica modeled the rainbow of hangers for me:

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In the closet section you will find The Container Stores best-selling product…the elfa premiere storage system.

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In this system the only thing attached to the wall is the top bar that gets screwed into the studs. Everything else hangs from this top bar and the possibilities are endless.

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The elfa system is also perfect for kitchens, garages, or really anywhere. They had a cool display in the store of a media center set up using the elfa system (but this bad blogger didn’t get a picture of that, darnit).

My friend Denise of RunDMT modeling the travel section:

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There is an section devoted entirely to hooks!

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I thought they said this was the “hooker” section. Oops.

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The Container Store has seasonal sales highlighting one lifestyle section, and the grand opening of the Tampa store just happens to fall during their annual “Work Smart” office sale.

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A floral designer was there setting up beautiful arrangements for the grand opening party.

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Bloggers testing out the seating options…

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Everywhere you look in The Container Store you see something you need, and something you never knew you needed.

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In the trash section…

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there may have been a little blogger trash-talking.

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The store is really visually stunning.

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The container section of The Container Store!

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I just wanted to immediately organize something when I walked down this aisle.

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Finally, the kitchen section.

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Oh, how I want to find a new house and have a new kitchen and put these drawer dividers in my new kitchen drawers.

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Mindy, working the kitchen section:

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Near the check out counters they have all the awesome little gadgets…perfect for stocking stuffers.

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The center of the store is home to all of the larger storage options.

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That concluded our tour. Thank you Elaine from all of us bloggers! Who let those two guys in?

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Tampa Bay Bloggers representing!

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It was The Container Store runway!

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You may notice on the background there behind me that the Junior League of Tampa is also represented. As part of The Container Store’s commitment to the local community they have partnered with the Junior League of Tampa and will donate 10% of Grand Opening Weekend sales to that organization which does so much good for our community.

You may also notice the goody bag on my arm. Oh man. This was the most well-stocked swag bag that I’ve ever gotten…and I’ve gotten plenty!

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I am excited to try out many of the products, chosen from each of their 16 lifestyle sections, but it was just too much stuff! So I’m going to give some of it away.

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Here’s what one commenter will get, including the colorful vinyl shopping bag:

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  1. Nylon mesh laundry bag with locking drawstring
  2. Every Drop beauty spatula … use this to get those last few drops out of your makeup jars
  3. Klip It to Go Breakfast container – this is a container with a locking lid that has a second smaller container that nests inside and a little spoon. Perfect to keep your yogurt and fruit from making your granola soggy before you can eat it.
  4. SockPro sock holders
  5. Space Bag To Go – 2 compressible travel bags in carry-on size
  6. Essential Cedar with Lavender Fragrance Cedar Blocks
  7. Pet Buddies dog food can covers
  8. Wine Tie-dings reusable gift adornment tag…very cool! It is a pretty gift tag for a wine bottle and you write on the tag with chalk, which can be erased and used again
  9. Reisenthel mini maxi shopper bag

If you’d like to win this bag, just leave me a comment telling me that you are a fan of The Container Store, or that you can’t wait to check out the new Tampa location, or that you really wish they had one in your area. I’ll mail it anywhere within the continental U.S.

This giveaway is now over…the winner has been contacted. Congratulations Karl!

It would also be really nice if you…

Check out The Container Store blog
Liked The Container Store Tampa Facebook page
Followed The Container Store on Twitter

But I’m not going to be checking up on those things. It would just be nice. You really should brave the crowds and check out the Grand Opening also. There will be prize giveaways every hour on the hour throughout the weekend, including $1,000 elfa Space Makeovers on both Saturday and Sunday. Get there early! The first 100 people to show their Facebook Check-ins on both Saturday and Sunday will receive $10 Store More gift cards! They will be open this Saturday, March 16th, from 9 am – 9 pm and on Sunday from 11 am – 6 pm.

Oh, and if you are in a hurry you can always take advantage of their “Click & Pick Up” option. Just shop online and you can pick it up locally. You can even let them know when you expect to arrive and they will provide curb service. Sweet.

I can’t wait to go back and shop! Thank you so much to The Container Store for having us today.

[Disclosure: I was invited to this event and given lunch and an awesome goody bag in exchange for blogging about the store, although that was not an explicit requirement. All opinions of this stores fantastic awesomeness are my own.]