Photo by: Clark Griffiths
- It’s the tiny hole-in-the-wall spot in a strip mall that often surprises with incredible food. Case in point: Vizen (vizen-sarasota.com) in Sarasota. To the beat of soft bossa nova, guests sip lychee saketinis. Behind the counter, a stylish sushi chef with pigtails and a Burberry plaid hat smiles as she slices hamachi, yellowtail fresh from Japan, serving it with soy mousse droplets. Next, she prepares a lobster salad roll with pistachio and avocado, topping it with bright orange smelt roe. Daily specials are written in chalk on the blackboard.
- Another pipsqueak sushi spot we love is the family owned Ziree Thai and Sushi (zireethai.com) in Delray Beach. Enjoy handrolled favorites, such as the spicy tuna roll and yellowtail roll, while you soak up the Zen vibe.
- Not to rest after his success in Gainesville, Dragonfly (dragonflysushi.com) owner Hirofumi Leung opened his second restaurant in Orlando. Both score high points: Gainesville for its fast-paced energy (perennially packed with both college students and professionals) and Orlando for its sophisticated high-end appeal, robata grill, lounge and patio. You can’t go wrong with the dragonfly roll — albacore wrapped in grouper, baked and finished with eel sauce.