Shopping Mall Nostalgia with Fresh Yaki Udon

Good Bite

Sushi Bay Kitchen & Sake Bar, 3957 Cattlemen Road, Sarasota, sushibayfl.com 941-260-9992

As many older shopping malls continue to decline, so too does the Great American Food Court. Some chains, like Mandarin Express, Perry’s BBQ & Asian Grill and Panda Express, are synonymous with quick and salty plates enjoyed in the bustle of a capitalist’s fever dream. For many a picky child (like yours truly), these chains even represented the first time a vegetable was eaten without being force-fed by a well-meaning parent. But for more mature palates still craving that savory food court feel-good, Sushi Bay Kitchen & Sake Bar brings the soy-laden, wok-seared goodness to life.

As the name would suggest, the largest real estate on the menu goes to sushi offerings, which come creatively plated and well portioned. In addition, an assortment of hibachi-prepped plates captures the same flavors as places like Joto’s or Benihana’s without the elaborate show. But something in the yaki udon, despite the heaping handful of fresh veggies and house-made udon noodles, just oozes with that food court flavor. Loaded with mushrooms, zucchini, carrots, onions, broccoli and snow peas tossed with thick, chewy udon noodles in soy sauce, the piping hot dish comes topped with your choice of protein and a dash of black pepper. The savoriness and seared flavor profile are enough to evoke images of parachute pants, puka-shell necklaces and Carson Daly. Just make sure your N’Sync playlist stays in your headphones.

Sushi Bay Kitchen & Sake Bar, 3957 Cattlemen Road, Sarasota, sushibayfl.com 941-260-9992

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