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David Ing, at large … Sometimes, my mind wanders

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Sushi, American style – big!

David has problems getting his mouth around the oversized maki at the California Grill at Walt Disney World.
I’m at the Disney Contemporary Resort. That’s one of three original hotels on nearest the Magic Kingdom. (It’s famous because the monorail runs through the middle of it.) The California Grill, on the 15th floor of the hotel, is supposed to be one of the better onsite restaurants. It has sushi on the menu, so I thought I would try it.

When I phoned earlier in the week, it sounded like this restaurant is pretty popular. Upon checking into the hotel, I asked the clerk, and she said that there’s a bar area that serves the full menu, and it’s usually not too full. I stopped by the downstairs entry at 7:15 p.m. and asked if I could go there, but they said that the bar area was already fully reserved. They phoned upstairs, and the sushi bar in front of the open kitchen was available, so I went up the elevator.

I ordered the sushi deluxe. I got to watch the sushi chef. This isn’t the Japanese style of sushi bar where the chef multi-tasks to serve multiple people, it’s a production line. After 10 minutes, the waiter brought me some crusty and chewy (Italian-style) bread, and some olive oil. Nice, but not exactly in line with traditional Japanese service.

My order came from another sushi around the corner. Nice presentation. Twelve pieces of sushi, half maki and half nigiri: tuna (red), salmon, and yellowtail. The nigiri was a generous cut. The maki was overly generous. I think each the maki was at least 1-1/2″ in diameter, and I really needed to eat each piece in two bites. This was messy, because the nori wouldn’t tear cleanly.

I asked for side order of seaweed salad — they had bowls of it around, used primarily for garnish — and the chef was nice enough to give me a large bowl of it. (It wasn’t on the menu).

Although the sushi looked good, I think that my son Eric has made better sushi at home. It was tough trying to figure out what was wrong. Behind the counter, I could see the chefs had large chunks of fish already cut up and wrapped towels. I then noticed that one sushi chef was making a dozen uncut maki cylinders, and put them down in the refrigerator. In the final analysis, I think that none of the fish was really special — there’s usually one type that better than another on any given night — the rice was on the cold side, and the nori wasn’t toasted crisply.

I seem to recall that sushi at the Teppanyaki Dining Room in the Japan pavilion at Epcot was good (last September), so the style at the California Grill must really reflect the American bent on cuisine.

To balance off dinner, I asked around where fresh fruit was available. They have it at the food court beside the video game hall, so I got a fresh taste of Florida. (At least I assume they’re Florida oranges!)

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