EDITOR’S NOTE: Kabuto Sushi & Grill announced it would be permanently closing after December 26th, 2022.
Kabuto Sushi & Grill (https://www.kabuto-sushi.com) is the closest sushi restaurant to our house, but it took us a while to try it. It used to be a different sushi restaurant years ago, which we only ever went to once. Once was enough. It was really expensive and just okay, but Kabuto has a completely different menu, different management, different décor, different everything. I ordered takeout, but the dining room was gorgeous — very modern and sexy, especially for a sushi restaurant in uber-suburban Winter Springs, next door to our regular Publix where everyone knows me.
I ordered takeout for that first visit to Kabuto, starting with a pretty typical eel roll ($10), with baked eel and cucumber inside the sushi rice and a little dipping cup of sticky, sweet eel sauce on the side:
My wife thought the Kabuto’s summer roll ($16) sounded interesting, with tuna, salmon, a krab stick, avocado, and mango, wrapped in spring mix leaves and rice paper, with house-made raspberry wine sauce on the side. It was an interesting combination, especially with the sauce, that was like a sweet and sticky vinaigrette dressing, and no rice to speak of.
I ended up using the sauce as dressing on a homemade salad a few days later, since she isn’t into sauces and dips anyway. It was perfectly fine, but I like my sushi rolls with rice, so I probably wouldn’t order this one again.
I’m glad I ordered a spicy tuna crunch roll and a spicy salmon crunch roll ($8 each; below left and center), both with tempura flakes inside to give them that gentle crunch, and we really enjoyed both of those.
But there were two highlights, even though these other rolls were solid. One was the mango passion roll that my wife chose ($16; on the right side in the above photo), with yellowtail, salmon, and avocado inside, topped with more yellowtail and salmon, plus mango salsa. It was AWESOME. What a great combination. I always order mango in my poke bowls with tuna and/or salmon when it is available, and it worked so well here.
My personal favorite wasn’t a roll at all, but a selection from the “cold small plates” part of the menu: spicy tuna crispy rice ($12), with cubes of deep-fried rice topped with spicy tuna, avocado, masago, scallions, sesame seeds, and a sweet glaze. It came with four pieces, which we split evenly, but I could have eaten two hundred of them, seriously.
I love ramen almost as much as I love sushi, but my wife doesn’t always share my love of ramen (aside from the instant stuff). I was surprised when she suggested we order a bowl of the tonkotsu ramen ($13) to split, since I figured she wouldn’t be interested, but I was half-considering ordering one just for myself. In the end, I liked it more than she did and ended up eating most of it, which was fine with me, but I was relieved she suggested it in the first place.
I really liked how rich and creamy the pork bone broth was, how tender the thin slices of chashu pork and bamboo shoots were, and how springy and chewy the noodles were. I always think I’m going to hate the bamboo in tonkotsu ramen, expecting it to be tough and fibrous like a cross between chewing on celery sticks and saxophone reeds, but it is more like al dente lasagna noodle sheets. The soft-boiled egg halves were cooked to gooey perfection as well, although I chomped them both rather than letting the yolks mix into the tonkotsu broth. The broth was served on the side in our takeout order, which was the ideal way to do it, to keep those great noodles from getting soggy.
I had no idea Kabuto also has a happy hour menu, since it wasn’t on the website. If you dine in between 4:30 and 7:00 PM, you could get much cheaper sushi rolls, and if I had known, we might have done that instead of ordering takeout. Here’s a photo, because the people need to know about this great deal!
In fact, we returned two weeks later to dine in and take advantage of happy hour, since the food was so good.
My wife started out with two pieces of escolar sashimi ($4) and two pieces of tako (octopus) sashimi ($4):
Then we went hard on those happy hour rolls! I got the same spicy tuna crunch roll and spicy salmon crunch roll we liked so much at home ($5 each; right center and bottom), as well as the full-priced mango passion roll we loved (top left):
We also got the Philly roll ($4; top right), the fire dragon roll ($5, bottom left), and the lobster sensation roll ($5, center). I always gravitate toward “Japanese bagel” rolls, with smoked salmon and cream cheese (the food of my people!), but the Philly roll was regular (non-smoked) salmon with cream cheese. Still very pleasing. This was my first fire dragon roll, with salmon, asparagus, and avocado inside, and topped with yellowtail, thin-sliced serrano peppers, and dollops of “house-made kobachi sauce,” as the menu said. It looked and tasted more like sriracha to me.
Finally, the lobster sensation roll isn’t listed on the regular menu, but it contained lobster mixed with cream cheese and was lightly fried in tempura batter. Really good stuff. I’m sorry I didn’t take more close-ups of this beautiful sushi tray.
There are also daily specials at Kabuto that we didn’t order, but I snapped a photo of the menu from the day we went, since they aren’t on the website either:
There is no shortage of good sushi restaurants in and around Orlando, but Kabuto Sushi & Grill is definitely the closest to us. It may not be super-upscale, but that isn’t The Saboscrivner’s style anyway, and it is still a really nice place with fresh, delicious, unpretentious sushi and ramen, tucked away in Winter Springs, where foodies rarely dare to venture. Please dare. In the meantime, we will keep enjoying this friendly neighborhood restaurant moments from our home.