This is how it works. You sit in a booth and food comes down a long conveyor belt and you grab what you want. Sounds like a gimmick right? Well it is- but the thing is that the food you grab is actually good.
Wasabi Modern Japanese Cuisine sits in the middle of the Florida Mall. And when I say the middle, I mean literally the middle of the mall. That was sort of bothering to me, eating lunch and being on display. However, once I got used to being stared at like a zoo animal, I actually enjoyed our lunch here.
The dining area is very small. Only about ten booths line a conveyor belt that cuts right down the center of the restaurant. The kitchen places plates of freshly prepared sushi and sashimi dishes on the belt and as you are sitting at your table the food moves past you. Eventually, something really catches your eye and you grab it off the belt before someone else gets it. All the plates are color coordinated so at the end of the meal you are charged for the plates you grabbed.
There is, of course, a menu so you can pretty much plan out what you intend to grab off the belt. There is also a small menu for cooked plates like salmon or chicken which was a good thing as Chad is not a sushi loving type of guy. He ordered the small Salmon Anticucho dish which was a piece of grilled salmon with a citrus-chili sauce, rice and a mini green salad. He liked it a lot but it was very small. Definitely more of a sampling than an actual meal. There is a larger version he could have ordered that would have been filling for him. Next time.
As for me, I love sushi so I was a kid in the candy store as plates went by on the conveyor belt. I first grabbed a Blue Crab Roll. This was pretty good though I am convinced that the “blue crab” was more like the imitation crab meat you find in a traditional California Roll. However, the roll was dusted with a sprinkling of Old Bay Seasoning which was clever and tasty.
Next up I grabbed the Sweet Potato Tempura Roll. This was my favorite and by far the most unique of everything we ate. Fried sweet potato, avocado and cucumbers were rolled into a nori and rice roll and drizzled with a sushi sauce. Even Chad liked this one. It was quite tasty though I never got a great taste of any sweet potato probably because there was such a small amount of it in the roll.
Of course, for me a trip to the sushi place is never complete without getting a Philadelphia Roll. Nothing real special here- the usual salmon rolled with avocado and cream cheese. It was good- just as good as I have had any other place.
Part of the fun was watching all the other food go by. Perhaps the most interesting thing we saw was a BLT Roll which was one of the daily specials. It was literally bacon, lettuce and tomato rolled up in nori with rice. I had inquired about how long the food rotates through the restaurant as I would be concerned I may grab something that has been on the belt all day. I was assured that as the food rotates back into the kitchen area the Chefs have a system for knowing how long something has been out. And by the way, when I say kitchen, I really just mean a tiny little area where the Chefs prepare the food, also out in the open like the rest of the restaurant.
And also good to know, if you see a roll on the menu you are interested in but do not see coming down the conveyor belt, you can ask your server and the kitchen will make it for you.
If we were at the Florida Mall again we may stop there again to eat but we certainly would not go out of our way to visit again. At the moment, there are only four locations in the United States. In addition to the Orlando outlet, there are 2 Wasabi restaurants in the Boston area and one just outside of Washington, DC in Tysons Corner with plans for more on the way.
The only advice I would offer is that this would be a place to greatly avoid if you are at all paranoid about eating in a fishbowl. Lots of curious shoppers were stopping and watching the food move around the belt. The whole restaurant is sectioned off by a little fence and plenty of on lookers gathered around the fence just to grab a peek. Otherwise, it was a neat experience but one has to exercise restraint or you will end up with a huge stack of colored plates that will add up to a huge bill at the end of your meal.