Will preface this by saying I am not a sushi fan. My experience in Japanese restaurants, prior to visiting Kaiko, was enjoying the occasional California roll but leaving to others at the table the pleasures of raw fish and seafood on little mounds of rice. As a guest, however, I found myself at Kaiko with no fall back positions of tempura or katsu in site.
SO, I nervously watched the list being filed out. What arrived, to my delight, was sliced rolls that looked like California rolls, called makimono, filled with COOKED seafood! Our friends had thoughtfully included tampa (fried grouper and onions), spider (softshell crab scallion and smelt roe), mexican (fried shrimp, smelt roe and avocado), California roll, and each piece was more delicious than the last! The others also feasted on sushi including yellow tail, fresh raw conch, red snapper, sweet shrimp, crab, salmon roe and tuna. They all just raved about the freshness and overall quality.
Have been warned not to expect all the "cooked" seafood at other restaurants specializing in sushi, I am relieved to find I can enjoy a meal in Kaiko when others feel the craving for raw fish.
Sapporo and Ichiban were perfect with this meal. Miso soup was fine, and the green iceberg lettuce was enlivened by a very interesting gingery dressing. We were too full to try it, but the deep fried ice cream was very popular at other tables.
Sushi $3.25 to $4.50 for two pieces. Makimono $4.75 to $7.50 for 6 to 8 cut pieces.
Kaiko is a small, tidy restaurant in a strip mall, with a sushi counter seating about eight. We observed a brisk takeout business, and the restaurant was full although we dined early. Quick and helpful service.
I have no idea how this place stacks up against other spots on my side of the bay or in Tampa, but would love to hear from others who have tried it, or would care to suggest similar restaurants for my friends to try, especially ones I can eat at too!
Kaiko Japanese Restaurant
2475 McMullen Booth Rd., Clearwater, 727 791 6640.