Japanese and Thai
Pacific Rim (1859 Hillview St., 941/330-8071, 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m. Mon.–Fri., dinner 5–9:30 p.m. Mon.–Thurs., 5–10:30 p.m. Fri.–Sat., 5–9 p.m. Sun., sushi rolls from $6, entrées from $12) is a modern and stylish Japanese restaurant located just south of downtown. Despite the urbane decor, the atmosphere is pretty casual, and the martini menu is almost as popular as the sushi bar. The Japanese and Thai food is unexceptional, but the sushi rolls are uniformly excellent, bringing in large evening crowds that can sometimes be a bit deafening in the open dining room.
Vizen Japanese Cuisine (6559 Gateway Ave., 941/926-0830, 5–10 p.m. Tues.–Sat., sushi rolls from $6, entrées from $18) is a bit less crowded but also a good option. Located in the Gulf Gate restaurant and bar area, Vizen’s decor is elegant and subdued, and you should definitely grab a seat in the cozy sushi bar area, where you can watch the Edo-style sushi being prepared. In addition to a standard selection of rolls, there are often several special sushi and sashimi plates available based on whatever fish is freshest. Other fare is limited and mainly consists of stir-fries.
© Jason Ferguson from Moon Florida, 1st Edition