In addition to traditional rolls and sashimi, Water (10151/2 S. Howard Ave., 813/514-4426, www.watersushi.com , 6–11 p.m. daily, sushi rolls and bowls average $9) shares a predilection with its sister restaurant, Daily Eats: They love to put things in bowls. Water Bowls are a bed of white or brown rice beneath an unrolled combination of the same ingredients that make up many popular sushi rolls. Imagine sushi as prepared by the same folks who came up with those KFC bowls, except, you know, good. This unique presentation allows the chefs considerable creative leeway, like eel with banana, resulting in a unique take on sushi.
Ybor City ’s Samurai Blue (1600 E. 8th Ave., 813/242-6688, www.samuraiblue.com , lunch and dinner Mon.–Sat., dinner Sun.) prides itself on its hipster-friendly vibe and modern take on sushi. Most of the dishes and rolls are old hat, but some surprises, like mussels baked with wasabi mayonnaise, also pop up. A substantial selection of non-Japanese meat and poultry entrées is available too. The sake bar is also very popular.
On Sundays, the Wat Mongkolratanaram of Florida (5306 Palm River Rd., 813/621-1669, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Sun.) is the site of a Thai open-air market. The Buddhist temple, known as Wat Tampa, is a beautiful sight in and of itself, but the many local vendors who turn out for the market make it a Thai food fan’s dream come true. Fried taro, noodle soups, curries, and grilled meats are all on offer, and picnic tables are available for enjoying the low-priced food, as monks in saffron robes wander the grounds and local Thais socialize.