Wa Sushi

Wa Sushi (https://www.facebook.com/WaSushiCasselberry/) is a real treasure in the Seminole County suburb of Casselberry, 20 minutes north of downtown Orlando.  The small, serene location is located in a nondescript shopping plaza between an Ollie’s Bargain Outlet and a store called Sports & Pokemon (the two genders?), but it boasts some of the finest sushi and Japanese food in the Orlando area.

Wa Sushi used to be in another, even less auspicious location elsewhere in Casselberry, pretty far out of the way and hard to find, and our very cool next-door neighbors invited us there once.  It was good, but for whatever reason, we didn’t return until recently — our first visit in years, and the first to this new location.

You can find Wa Sushi’s menu on the Facebook page above, but they had a menu of specials when I took my wife there recently, for our first real date night in a while:

This was one of the last evenings of 2022, and we saw Wa was offering another special of toshikoshi soba, or “year-crossing noodles,” traditionally meant to be eaten on New Year’s Eve to let go of the hardships of the past year (since soba noodles are so soft and easily cut).  Well, we figured we could both use some of that.

Rather than try the version in broth, we ordered the toshikoshi ten zaru soba ($16), cold soba noodles served with a dashi soy dipping sauce and a side order of tempura-battered and fried shrimp and vegetables.  It was beautifully plated, and really good too, although I probably would not have ordered it if the dish wasn’t associated with the tradition of letting go of the hard times of the past year.

Close-up of the tempura shrimp and vegetables.  My wife ate the tempura sweet potato, and I had the onion and shishito peppers.

Here are the cold soba noodles, made from buckwheat and topped with some fine shreds of nori (seaweed).  They didn’t have much flavor at all, kind of like eating plain, cold spaghetti, but earthier.  The dashi dipping sauce helped immensely, as did the finely-diced scallions that also came on the side.   

Something we ordered came with the obligatory wee house salad with sesame dressing and miso soup, which I enjoyed:

This was ika geso ($11), a small plate of deep-fried squid legs from the Hot Tasting section of the menu.  After how tender and fried to perfection the shrimp were, we thought we would double down on the tempura shellfish.  These were chewier than a lot of fried calamari we have ordered around town, but I have a feeling this squid was a lot fresher, as opposed to some restaurants that may use frozen calamari.  They definitely tasted fresh.

My wife always loves a good selection of sashimi, or in this case, a beautiful portion of chirashi ($33) — select cuts of raw fish, selected by the chef.  There was salmon in here, ebi (shrimp), tako (octopus, one of her favorites, whether raw or cooked), ikura (orange globes of salmon roe), tamago (perfectly cooked and sliced egg), and unagi (eel).  I always love eel in sushi, but this was her first time trying it, and she liked it.  I’m always impressed by her willingness to try almost anything.

And we ordered three beautiful rolls to share:

In the foreground, you can see the ultimate tuna roll ($16): spicy tuna and cucumber inside the rice, topped with  tuna, wasabi-infused tobiko (fish eggs), and sweet chili sauce.  This one was awesome, but I’m always a fan of spicy tuna in any form. 

Here you can see the inferno roll ($14) in the front, and the mango tango roll ($13) in the back.  In the very front are slices of escolar sashimi ($2.50), just for her — a big fan of the butterfish.  The inferno roll features spicy salmon and cucumber topped with yellowtail, spicy mayo, and paper-thin slices of fresh jalapeño pepper.  Awesome combination.   
The mango tango roll in the back features tempura-battered and fried shrimp, mango, and cucumber, topped with crab salad.  I believe this was real crabmeat and not surimi (processed fish sometimes called “krab,” even though I like that stuff too).

I was really impressed by Wa Sushi, once again, all these years later, in a much more convenient location.  Last summer I wrote a review of Kabuto Sushi & Grill, another friendly neighborhood sushi spot close to our home, just on the Winter Springs side rather than the Casselberry side.  I even listed one of Kabuto’s dishes in my Top Ten Tastes of 2022, which came out in the last Orlando Weekly issue of the year.  Sadly, that very week, the last week of 2022, Kabuto announced it was closing permanently.  That’s when I resolved to get us back to Wa, to support them as much as we could moving forward, to help spare it a similar fate.  I know lots of local foodies already know how fine Wa Sushi is, and common consensus is that it is one of the best sushi establishments in the greater Orlando area.  It absolutely is, and to have it so close to home, a true treasure in Casselberry, of all places, means we have to protect it, support it, and shout our praise from the rooftops, both real and virtual.  So here’s my praise and my protection.  Let’s support all of our favorite restaurants as much as we can this year, especially those friendly neighborhood favorites we are lucky to have so near and dear to us.

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