This weekend I was at it again – scouring the Orlando metro area for a new place to try for dinner.
Jen and I were tired of the same-old restaurants you see on just about every corner; we wanted something new for a change. We had driven past Sushi Pop on Mitchell Hammock Road in Oviedo quite a few times since it opened but we just hadn’t gotten around to trying it out yet. We did a little research before we went – the majority of reviews were generally favorable with one primary complaint: it was too expensive.
Too expensive can mean a lot of things to a lot of people, really, so we wanted to see for ourselves!
Sushi Pop – The Atmosphere
First, let’s start with the atmosphere at Sushi Pop. Personally, I LOVE this type of place. I actually remember the restaurant when it used to be a pizza place. WOW, has it changed! The layout is still largely the same but it looks completely different inside. Jen and I immediately felt like we were teleported into the Thorton Park district of downtown Orlando when we walked in. The atmosphere is very hip, with great decor, dim lighting (but not too dim) and a fair amount of space. There are only about fifteen tables but you can also sit at the bar and watch as the chefs prepare your meal.
Sushi Pop was full of young professionals dressed for their weekend night out – much what you’d expect in downtown establishments but far less common in the suburbs. We arrived at 9pm on a Saturday night and it will still busy but not packed. We were seated almost immediately with no reservations.
If you’re looking for downtown atmosphere without the commute (and tolls), Sushi Pop may be a good alternative.
Sushi Pop – The Food & Drink
What I liked the most about Sushi Pop was the food. That may be what you’d expect in a restaurant review but, unfortunately, that’s not always the case. The atmosphere was awesome but the food was even better.
First, the Drinks
We ordered a round of drinks – Jen had the drink special of the night (something-kai). Ugh, I can’t remember the name! It was a little sweet, a little spicy and had Hawiian pink salt around the rim. This was nothing like either of us had ever tasted and Jen loved it! It was a little bit spicy, a little bit sweet and just a little salty. I ordered a more traditional Truffeltini (coco lopez, rice milk, Hersheys dark chocolate, cinnammon, shaved ice). It was awesome! I normally can’t stand saki, but I think because of the saki in this drink it wasn’t too sweet like some chocolate martinis can become. I definitely recommend you try one if you’re a chocolate person, like me!
Next, the Food
I sometimes hesitate to read reviews for restaurants before I go simply because I don’t want my expectations and experience of a place to be tainted before I even get there. I admit, having read some reviews I expected to be somewhat disappointed with the portions and pricing of the food.
Yes, Sushi Pop was a bit expensive. Jen and I ordered four rolls (more on those in a bit), one appetizer and two beverages each. Our total bill came to just under $85. At first, I think some people have a little sticker shock. They think, “$85 in Oviedo?”. The problem is, this is a classy, trendy restaurant that may belong downtown but isn’t downtown. We went to a similar restaurant downtown around Valentine’s Day last year and spent DOUBLE what we spent at Sushi Pop and got about the same amount of food and drink. What you won’t get is a cheap meal here. But I doubt many expect that when they go. I do feel like I received a good value for the money I spent and that’s really all I can ask, right?
Ok, so on to the food. For starters, we ordered a Shrimp Tempura appetizer. The shrimp were huge and were sourced locally from the Cape Canaveral area not more than 45 minutes from Orlando. The shrimp also came with tempura asparagus, an onion ring and a fried (shiitake?) mushroom. All were excellent and were only $9. For our dinner, as I mentioned, we ordered four rolls: Hot Mess (smoked salmon, avocado and tempura flakes with honey kabayaki, topped with baked tuna, salmon, yellowtail, flounder, spicy mayo, smelt roe, chives and rendered bacon - $15), Lobster & Almonds (tempura lobster, avocado, asparagus, smelt roe, yuzu tartar sauce, encrusted with toasted almonds - $11), Spicy Tuna (tuna tartare with chives, spicy sesame oil, shichimi pepper, smelt roe - $7) and California (real blue lump crab, cucumber, and avocado - $8) rolls.
Holy yum! They were all so good. Of course, we couldn’t finish all four rolls between the two of us, so we had a doggy bag to take home as well. By far, our favorite was the Hot Mess roll. It’s nothing like any sushi roll I’ve ever had before and I consider it a must-try for any first time visitor to Sushi Pop.
Sushi Pop – The Service
The service at Sushi Pop was excellent, from the hostess to the servers, everyone was happy, attentive and clearly enjoyed what they were doing. Their outfits were also rather eclectic, adding to the hip-ness of the restaurant and blending right in with the Japanese anime-inspired decor.
Sushi Pop – Final Thoughts
We’re glad we finally made it to Sushi Pop in Oviedo. We will definitely be going back for date night again!
310 W. Mitchell
Hammock Road, Oviedo
Entrees: $17-28; sushi $4-17