Aqua

The Westin Tampa Bay 7627 Courtney Campbell Causeway Tampa, FL 33607(813) 675-8700 • aquatampa.com

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Located in the Westin Hotel, and on the water (as the name suggests), this restaurant manages to pack a few surprises ranging from sushi, which one might expect based on its affiliation with the H2O, all the way to flatbread, which has very little to do with water by my estimation.

The first surprise coming in the form of a California roll. And probably one of the best I’ve ever had, mostly because the crab wasn’t that canned shit. Or that fake crap either. Oh no, they go for the real deal and you can definitely taste the fingerprint of the ocean in every morsel. Along with fresh avocado, cucumber and flying fish roe.

The Tuscan flat bread was also a winner, proving to be more well balanced than one might expect, topped with artichokes, grilled onions, asparagus, and oven-dried tomatoes, all smothered in mozzarella and sauced with a bright, basil pesto.

Then the missteps waltzed in, like the brioche crusted mahi. The crust is so overpowering that I had to scrape it off, just so I could actually taste the fish. Also, the fregola couscous and spiced red pepper puree do little for the dish as well. That said, don’t miss the watercress and pumpkin salad to the side. That’s the real star on the plate. I recommend pealing off the crust and pairing up some of that salad with every bite and you’ll be a much happier camper. Or take the easy way out and just order the scallops.

The scallops where prepared in a dark, almost squid ink-like sauce, and paired up with a wonderful mound of spicy-ass Thai black rice. Me like.

We closed with a bowl of begniets, drizzled with ribbons of chocolate and dusted with confectioner’s sugar. They are nothing spectacular, but they do get by on the simple fact that they are fried dough. That said, if you are looking for more from your dessert, look elsewhere.

So I’m gonna go out on a rare, kind-hearted limb here and give it three knives, by in large due to my lowered expectations… and the fact that I had a few too many glasses of Sonoma-Cutrer Chardonnay, which I normally don’t even like as a grape. Who knew? But deep down, I really do want to give Aqua only two knives in my heart of hearts, because of the major miss on the mahi, the unintentionally cheesy Miami Vice decor and the service, which is slim shady, calling the soy sauce that came with our sushi “teriyaki” and not knowing a single alcohol they had at the bar.

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Sushi Park

8539 Sunset Blvd. Ste 20 West Hollywood, CA 90069 • (310) 652-0523

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You know you’re in for some serious sushi when you see the sign on the way to the front door that says “No California rolls. No teriyaki. So please don’t ask.”So unless you are prepared to put your faith in the chefs and go with the omakase, go somewhere else.

That said, the omakase is omg! Such an incredibly fresh, wide range of fish brined to perfection by chefs who are actually very nice and servers who were equally so.

The sake selection, while limited, was also quite good.

I can’t, however, say that it was the best sushi restaurant I’ve ever been to mainly  because of one fatal flaw: the location and decor. It’s in a strip mall. And even when you step inside the restaurant you still feel like you’re in a strip mall. Granted, this is probably what makes it possible to actually get a seat here, but I do have to say that it’s not a great date night spot as a result. Better with friends… who love sushi. A lot. Because it is a bit pricey. But you get what you pay for. Great fish. And at the end of the day isn’t that what’s most important?

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