There are some restaurants where after the first bite you just know that you’re going to come back again. That was our reaction at Zaytoun Mediterranean Grill. When a basket of fresh baked pita is placed in front of you and steam actually pours out when you rip into it, you know life is good.
It was so light and fluffy that I couldn’t stop eating it even though I knew there was a lot more food heading our way. We decided to try the stuffed grape leaves.
I’m usually the picky one about stuffed grape leaves, but I really liked these. They were served cold and had this intense lemon flavor throughout. The filling was rice, parsley, onions and tomatoes and it was soft and flavorful. Loren thought the rice was a little too soft, but for me, they were perfect. We also got a bowl of the lentil soup.
It needed a touch of salt, but otherwise very good. We decided to split the mixed grill platter. It had grilled kufta, steak, chicken, rice and veggies.
There was plenty of food for two. The meats were all tender and full of flavor. The beef was a little too spicy for me, but the kufta and chicken were so good. They have a signature dessert on their menu that you order 30 minutes ahead of time. It’s called a knafeh.
It’s shredded dough with homemade cream served with pistachios and drizzled with an orange honey syrup. We didn’t know what to expect. The exterior is crunchy and there’s this smooth cream on the inside and the whole thing has this warm honey taste to it. It was different than anything we’ve had before and with each bite, you savored all of the flavors and textures. It wasn’t overly sweet either. We ended up taking half of it home. Overall, the food was excellent. It did take some time to come out of the kitchen, but it was worth the wait. I just wished they were located closer to where we live. Total bill with a drink was $44.
Zaytoun Mediterranean Grill
10970 Cross Creek Blvd
Out for a quick lunch today and Andy’s on the Bay was the place to be.
Two small orders of roasted pork, rice and beans and a drink for $16. The pork is so juicy and tender and the rice and beans are just delectable. You never leave this place hungry. They’re only open weekdays for lunch and there’s usually a crowd.
Andy’s on the Bay
472 East Douglas
We stopped at Consciousness Blossoms for brunch this morning. While I sipped on some pineapple juice, Loren started off with some chick pea soup.
I’m not usually a fan of chick peas, but this soup changed my mind. Aside from needing a little pinch of salt, there were a lot of tasty flavors going on here. It all melded together very nicely. He also decided to try the Hunza pie.
It had spinach, brown rice, cheddar cheese, tomatoes, yogurt and a pinch of curry. The curry was a little too strong for me, but he really liked it. The whole wheat pastry crust added a nice crunch and he even liked the slaw that came with it. He said it was a mix of cabbage and soy beans.
I love their croissant breakfast sandwich.
They make the fluffiest eggs I’ve ever seen here. The croissant is fresh, light, and buttery and the side of potatoes are perfectly cooked. The whole meal was fresh and tasty. Total bill with two drinks was $24.
3390 Tampa Road
Palm Harbor, FL
We ventured over to Saki Endless Sushi in Clearwater for dinner tonight. It’s located on Gulf to Bay & Hwy 19 behind the shopping center. I didn’t even realize there was a building back there. It’s a nice looking little restaurant and for $17.99 you can order endless appetizers, soup, salad, sushi, hibachi, and dessert. We had to roll ourselves out of there. You order as much or as little at a time, pacing yourself so everything doesn’t come out all at once. There is an additional charge for any remaining sushi, but we didn’t have any problem finishing off what we ordered.
For the first round, we got the Green Sarabay, Mexican, and Rainbow roll
The Green Sarabay had Spicy tuna crunch & tamago inside with salmon and avocado on top. I had to look up what tamago was. It’s egg. Loren said the tuna had a good spice level to it. I love anything covered in eel sauce and the Mexican roll and Rainbow roll were both fresh & tasty. Next round, we got the avocado salad which is basically their ginger salad with avocado on top, an order of salt & pepper calamari, salmon sashimi, flying fish roe, an Alaskan roll, and a Saki roll.
The salt & pepper calamari had a light batter and the salty taste we were looking for as well as a couple of deadly hot peppers on the plate that we both avoided. The Alaskan roll was salmon, cucumber & avocado and the Saki roll had shrimp tempura, cucumber, krab meat, mayo topped with avocado, shrimp, tobiko and eel sauce. All of it was tasty and as if that wasn’t enough, Loren decided to try the chicken hibachi, a spicy salmon roll, and I needed some gyoza.
The chicken in the hibachi dish was very tender. It also had mushrooms, onions, zucchini and broccoli. Loren commented that everything was cooked evenly unlike some of the hibachi restaurants we’ve been to where some veggies are overcooked and some undercooked. This was all perfectly done. You can also order rice & noodles to go along with it, but there was no way he’d have been able to eat it all. He had eaten half of the spicy salmon roll before I remembered to take a photo. The dumplings were very good. There was some hot pepper in the dipping sauce that caught me by surprise, but otherwise, they were perfectly cooked. Even though we were both stuffed at this point, we couldn’t leave without dessert.
There’s nothing quite like fresh, hot, sweet doughnuts. Yum! I think what impressed us the most was that everything was made & cooked to order. It was all hot and fresh when it got to the table. Our waitress was very attentive, filling drinks and as soon as we started to glance at the menu again, she’d be over to see what else we wanted to order. And here’s the kicker, with a drink, the total was $40. Had we ordered it all separately, it would have been over $75. We’ll definitely be back again.
Saki Endless Sushi
2643 Gulf to Bay Blvd
Loren wanted a Japanese hibachi dinner for his birthday so we drove over to Kuchi Sushi & Hibachi in Tampa. Being a Wednesday night, they only had two tables of diners and two hibachi chefs when we arrived. The manager actually asked us if we were in a hurry because they could cook the food in the back while the two chefs were busy. Instead we ordered some sushi to start off with and by the time the chefs were finished with the other tables, another family was seated with us so we got the full table side experience.
The soup came out first. It was typical mushroom broth and then they brought out the sushi.
The rainbow roll was very tasty. It’s one of our favorite rolls whenever we get sushi since it has tuna, salmon, and a whitefish. This was the thing that really stood out for us for the entire meal. Next up, salad and fire.
Our hibachi chef seemed to have the enthusiasm of a wet blanket. He was going through the motions but really didn’t seem like he wanted to be there. He was also really difficult to understand. He spoke softly and fast with a thick accent so most of the “jokes” he told went right by most of the table. I get that part of the show is to toss food for the people at the table to catch in their mouths, but when it’s very clear that you don’t want food tossed your way, I expect the chef to respect that instead of just tossing it anyway. Loren ordered the steak & shrimp and I ordered the filet & shrimp which was a few dollars more. There really wasn’t any noticeable difference in the meat because it and the shrimp were both overcooked. The shrimp was kind of tough. Loren also commented that the steak dipping sauce which is usually a tangy ginger type sauce was a lot sweeter than he’s had at other restaurants.
The dinner came with rice, veggies, and noodles, but we’ve definitely had better hibachi dinners at other restaurants. There was vanilla ice cream for dessert and even it was on the icy side. I like creamy ice cream, not ice cream filled with ice crystals.
Overall, there wasn’t anything about the experience that would make us want to go back. Total bill with a drink was $61.
Kuchi Sushi & Hibachi
9206 Anderson Rd