Friend, lunch stop makes for great lunch
I don't have high hopes for sushi or any seafood for that matter in Gainesville. We are not on the coast, and you really want to have the freshest seafood if you're about to eat it raw. Dragonfly Gainesville is a little overhyped, although they do have good cocktails, and Ichiban Sushi does have some memorable rolls, like the Aji San with baked salmon and banana, but it is a tad pricey. So there are a few good spots, but I am always on the hunt for better.
When my long-time friend, Dylan, said he wanted to visit on leave from the Navy, I knew, as a sushi lover, that he would want his fix. I took the opportunity to take him somewhere I had been meaning to dine at, as well: Volcanic Sushi + Sake, located in the smaller, more upscale space in Haile Plantation around some highly-esteemed food counterparts, like Patticakes. Walking up to Volcanic Sushi + Saki, the small shop could have been easily passed if I had not known what I was looking for. I was pleased to see a decent number of tables outside the front area, as it was comfortable weather to enjoy Gainesville outdoors. A few tables inside the dimly lit interior were full as were some of the outdoor tables.
As soon as our server approached, it was friendly service through and through. In fact, two servers came out to check on us at any given time despite having a decent number of tables occupied on an early Saturday afternoon. The sushi roll menu was not extensive; it was mostly simple but satisfying ingredient combinations, and there were only a couple pages of everything else, such as appetizers, soups, curry, teriyaki, and noodle meals. The simple selection of rolls was OK with me, since I am the most indecisive person ever and wanted to try a variety on my first visit. There is a complete menu at the restaurnt link below.
The first dish, the Kanisu Deluxe, an appetizer, sounded too fresh to pass up. A combination of thick chunks of krab, tuna, salmon, avocado, and masago were rolled together in a thin cucumber slice and separated into 6 pieces. I love trying rolls without rice, and this is one of the better I have had, the fish clearly quite fresh. I wish the sweet vinegar sauce had come on the side for dipping instead of being already on the plate under the sushi, as the sauce was just OK.
As far as the sushi menu rolls, each was tasty and unique from the other. The first thing I noticed when they arrived, other than the timely food delivery, was the presentation. It was clear that the chef took as much effort in making the food visually appealing as it was enjoyable to eat. Dylan's face when he took his first bite of the Sweet Monster roll was self explanatory. These 12 smaller fried balls filled with cheese, krab, salmon, squid, and white fish packed a super flavorful punch, the cooked fish comprised of many textures set off by the crunch of the breading on the outside. The Haile Roll also occupied this plate of fried tastiness, and it was just as pleasing as the Sweet Monster in its own way. This roll was the crunchy roll, comprised of salmon, crab and asparagus then fried, with "special tuna" on top. Baked salmon is the complete opposite of its raw counterpart, and both happen to be great in a roll. There was also a crispy garnish of sorts shaped as a wheel perched on top of each of the six pieces that gave it a textural and aesthetic edge.
The final roll, a traditional Rainbow Roll seen at many sushi establishments, was a welcome refreshing contrast from our fried rolls. Volcanic Sushi's rendition included a California roll with strips of tuna, salmon, avocado, and white fish alternating the 12 pieces. Once again, the quality of ingredients showed through, but it was a bit underwhelming compared with the other more inventive rolls we ordered. However, there is almost nothing that can't be cured with a little spicy mayo.
I've heard the cooked dishes at this restaurant are pretty good too, so I'm sure I will be back at lunch time for one of Volcanic Sushi's very reasonable lunch specials. It was not the best sushi I have ever had, but I was pleased considering what Gainesville has to offer. A'xin Mahzu Sushi and Sushi Matsuri are sushi joints closer to me and so more on my radar, but I will say that the friendly service and nice space overlooking the Haile Village Center were very pleasing.
The Pluses and Minuses of Volcanic Sushi + Sake:
Volcanic Sushi + Sake (+) indicators: Good quality, decent sushi, some unique rolls, good lunch specials, good value for rolls, friendly service, good indoor and outdoor seating. Sushi roll prices varies from $9 and $12.
Volcanic Sushi + Sake (-) indicators: Not a ton of roll choices, OK renditions of some rolls, uptown may be out of the way for those central to the university.
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- Phone Number: 352 363-6226
- Address: 5141 SW 91st Way,, Gaineville, FL
- Urban GLOB Location: West Gainesville
- Web Site: Volcanic Sushi + Saki
- Latitude: 29.6071159
- Longitude: -82.4392102