I’ve often wondered how the phrase “this is the greatest thing since sliced bread” became the standard bearer for innovation.
After all, it’s common knowledge that sushi and the hibachi are centuries older, and waaayy better than pieces of bleached and baked flour cut into slices. Are we all in agreement on that? Of course we are!
It follows then, that the greatest thing since sushi and hibachi are endless sushi and hibachi. Stay with me now. Our latest visit to Yuniku Endless Sushi & Hibachi shows why this unique (Japanese translation: yuniku) is worth every foodie’s attention.
Opened by the warm and impassioned Michael Dong, this beautiful dining destination keeps firing on all cylinders for Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Korean and Hibachi dishes. Trust us on that! We’ve been numerous times and have always been thrilled!
Michael Dong is probably one of the most hospitable hosts in Sarasota, as was witnessed at a recent media dinner Jill and I were invited to. One dish after another came to our two tables, with the scope, presentation, freshness, and flavor of the Far East abundantly on display.
To start this impressive menu presentation, we began with an Avocado Salad. Fresh, cool greens topped with diced avocado, crabstick, shrimp, and tobiko, spicy mayo, and a side of ginger dressing. This salad, accompanied by a Yuniku Mai Tai would seriously be a satisfying lunch or dinner for any of us, but that wouldn’t even scratch the surface of Yuniku’s ginormous menu. And Michael had every intent on us tasting a broad swath of that menu!
A cavalcade of jaw dropping flavors was about to begin. Thank goodness we were served family style . . . I make a point to tell you that so you don’t think Jill and I consumed all the dishes you’ll see pictured in this post! We tried everything, but no one could have actually finished the bounty that Michael set out for us. Not even a competitive eater, I’m guessing.
Our next course consisted of a trio of appetizers, with Crab Rangoon, Fried Gyoza, and Scallion Pancakes all fried to a glorious crispy perfection. Of special note was the Scallion Pancakes, (left hand side of the photo above.) These crunchy bites of heaven are cooked like a crêpe first, with two stacked on top of each other and dropped for a short time in the deep fryer. The result is a wholesome tasting chip with chunks of scallions in them. We were each given a ramekin of sweet and sour sauce and a savory brown gravy dipping sauce to enjoy with the various appetizers, though it was hardly needed!
We were then treated to a Lychee Saketini (Palate cleanser? Intermezzo libation? Fabulous cocktail? You decide!) It should be noted that Yuniku has a full liquor bar where any number of creative cocktails are served every day. This light martini included cold sake into the mix, which worked really well with all the Asian flavors on our plates.
It was here that I knew that I don’t possess enough adjectives for what came next; and next; and next. Good thing we have that “picture is worth a thousand words” thing going for us.
The eye-popping Sushi Boat had…drum roll please…Rainbow Rolls, OMG Rolls, Yuniku Rolls, Paradise Rolls, Sarasota Rolls, American Dream Rolls, Snow Mountain Rolls, Ocean Rolls, and crispy Fire Balls . . . a new roll that’s not even on the menu yet. The Fireball (bottom right in the photo below) lives up to its name, consisting of a creamy salad-like texture of jalapeno, salmon, tuna and crabmeat rolled in tempura batter and deep fried to a crunchy crust.
I can’t describe how absolutely beautiful the sushi presentation was. It was truly the jewels of the ocean dressed to impress in bite sized morsels of distinct flavor. The boat itself, incidentally, once emptied, looked large enough to be used in some kind of aquatic Shriner’s parade. No joke. There are three “Sushi Party” boats available of 32, 46, and 70 pieces on the actual menu, so everyone can pass muster and jump right in!
Also presented to two tables of media darlings was Yuniku’s Home Made Tempura Rolls. This is a great take on combining two of Asia’s most popular seafood preparation into one. The inside is a sushi roll that’s been battered in Tempura, then flash fried. The outside was slightly warm and crunchy while the inside remained cool and flavorful. These were a lot of fun! Yuniku has 6 different variations of the Tempura Roll, and if it weren’t for the other food presented at our table, I’d have tried all 6 of them!
The equally impressive Kitchen Entrees included a dazzling parade of Pad Thai Noodles, Spicy Pork Bulgogi, General Tso’s Chicken, Hibachi Shrimp and Scallops (mmm, those scallops!) and Teriyaki Steak & Chicken. Whew! All of them were spectacular, and we really appreciated Michael’s decision to offer flavors from the various Asian cooking methods . . . steamed, grilled, hibachi, teriyaki . . . are we missing anything?
Of this group of menu items, I’ll call out the Spicy Pork Bulgogi as a stand out. There is a real hint of spicy heat to this dish, with sweet onions balancing out the heat. Also a real standout was the Hibachi Shrimp and Scallops. I must apology to the other writers at our table. . . I was picking out all those large juicy grilled scallops for myself, at least until Jill smacked the back of my hand with her chop sticks. Sharing isn’t easy to do when you’ve been presented scallops as good as these.
Should we stop now? We should . . . but we can’t. Not with the trilogy of desserts we were given to share! Featuring Fried Green Tea Ice Cream, Fried Vanilla Ice Cream, (fried ice cream is actually my Kryptonite,) and Tempura fried Bananas, I was able to find room for more than a few bites full . . . as were the other guests at our table!
When Michael was ready to bring out Yuniku’s popular Scorpion Bowl Cocktail, the “other” table of food writers turned down the opportunity, which left 4 of us at our table to share the whole deliriously delicious experience of the Scorpion Bowl. Coming to the table in a large volcano bowl with a ceramic volcano in the center that’s filled with 151 proof rum that’s set aflame, the drink resembles a tropical island sitting in the middle of a fruity sea. The punch inside is ideally suited as a dessert cocktail, even though there is a deceivingly potent blend of rum, vodka, gin and Grenadine in the mix. Overall, it tastes like a fruity punch that, that delivers a punch of tropical flavor.
I hope you get the idea by now that young or old, from time tested favorite to exotic and exiting dishes, Yuniku Endless Sushi & Hibachi is someplace worth a visit whenever the urge for Asian food calls you.
Oh, by the way, the Endless part refers to Yuniku’s special lunches and dinners of made to order sushi and hibachi. This isn’t a buffet table of sushi getting stale waiting for someone to eat it up. This is 100% pick your favorites from the endless sushi and hibachi menus and dine until you’re full. There’s even an Early Bird Special from 3pm-5pm Mon-Fri for only $20.95 on Endless Dinner Menu. That’s $3 off from Endless dinner price. Do these guys spoil us or what!
There are so many reasons to visit Yuniku. How about happy hour from 4-7 Monday through Saturday? Or what about taking a cooking class, some recipes to try at home, a three course meal and a cocktail for $30 bucks. (Friend Yuniku’s Facebook page for more info on the cooking classes and news on upcoming specials and events!)
Thank you Michael, for keeping it fresh, exciting, and well, making Yuniku the best thing to happen since the invention of sushi and hibachi!