After a long day of kayaking in high winds, staff writer Kelly Cuculiansky and her boyfriend, Tim Pratt, were starving and exhausted.
They headed to their favorite sushi restaurant, Shiki At The Beach, where they knew they’d be seated immediately and served quickly.
Q. What do you think of the place? Shiki isn’t the fanciest of dining locations, but what it lacks in style it makes up for in its delicious food. Located in a strip mall, Shiki has fluorescent lighting, charcoal walls and simple Asian decor, such as the kimonos displayed on the wall.
Q. What did you order? Warning from Kelly: “I should start this section off by telling you that we eat as much as humanly possible when we come here and later suffer the consequences of feeling like we’re about to have a ‘food baby.’ It’s that good.”
We ordered a few appetizers, including edamame (soy beans with salt), miso soup and ginger salad with a homemade dressing. We also delved into the raw aspect, ordering usuzukuri, which is thinly sliced tuna, salmon and whitefish in ponzu sauce.
We’ve tried a lot of the “maki mono” rolls (seaweed and rice rolls), which feature mostly cooked ingredients, but we saw a couple of new items on the menu and decided to go for it.
For Tim’s spicy appetite, we ordered the new “negihama mama,” which includes raw, chopped yellowtail, scallions, jalapenos, kimchee sauce and seasame oil and is rolled in tempura crumbs.
The Shiki Cajun is Kelly’s new favorite. “I usually associate Cajun food to be spicy, but I didn’t find the dish to be spicy at all,” she said. The roll is served warm, with crab stick, mayo, cucumber and lettuce, rolled in tempura crumbs and topped with blackened salmon or whitefish — whatever you prefer. (Tip: If you sit at the sushi bar, you can watch the chef blacken it with a torch.)
We also ordered the Shiki summer roll, a colorful array of ingredients that makes for eye-catching presentation in a bed of orange-colored citrus soy sauce. The roll is different from most because it’s wrapped in rice paper. It’s served cold and very refreshing. It includes tuna slices, chives, daikon sprouts, baby greens, asparagus, crab, avocado and cucumber.
To sweeten things up a bit, we topped it all off with the coco mango roll. Whatever reservations you may have about fruit and crustaceans are wrong. It is delectable. The fried coconut shrimp is wrapped in seaweed and topped with fresh mango, lightly toasted coconut flakes and plum sauce.
Q. How were the portions? Since we were quite hungry after our big day on the river, we ordered four rolls, which is more than enough for two. Restaurant owner Beni Callanta,, who is from Japan, said usually two to 2 1/2 rolls are enough for one person. Considering we also ordered three appetizers, we did have quite a bit to take home.
Q. What did you order to drink? Our day on the river was cold and windy, so we craved something warm and comforting and shared some rice tea. Tim usually orders a 16 ounce Sapporo, a Japanese beer. The restaurant also has sake and wine available.
(Including tea and tax, but not the beer or tip, our total was $79.88.)
Q. How were the desserts? We tried the ice cream martini, which comes in a large martini glass. There’s no alcohol involved and it comes with a large portion of vanilla ice cream and tempura-battered bananas — which are my favorite part. The warm bananas make for a delicious contrast with the ice cream and chocolate syrup.
In keeping with our “let’s pig out” plan, we also ordered tempura cheesecake. It’s good, but we both preferred the martini dessert.
Shiki At The Beach 4192 S. Atlantic Ave., New Smyrna Beach
ACCESSIBILITY: Plentiful parking and wheelchair accessible
HOURS: 4:30-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 4:30-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 4:30-9:30 p.m. Sunday
MISCELLANEOUS: Cash, Visa and Mastercard accepted