By Carla Selby

Today, meeting friends for sushi is almost as American as going out for a beer and a pizza. It’s proof positive that when we leave our hearts—and plates—open to other cultures, good things often come of it.

Located at 3689 Tampa Road in Oldsmar, there is a hot place for Sushi you, your friends and your loved ones need to visit if you haven’t done so already. Hot Tuna Sushi Bar & Grille is a must-see, must-taste restaurant that exceeds traditional sushi joints with a fresh contemporary style, and special twists on your favorite sushi rolls. The ambiance is perfect for a delicious and affordable lunch, a romantic date, casual dinner with friends or a fun family gathering. 

Tampa local and frequent customer Joanne C. says, “This is my favorite place for lunch in the city. I love the quiet serene atmosphere and the incredible lunch specials. Great date spot as well!”

Hot Tuna Lunch specials are served Monday-Friday from 11:00am – 2:00pm and feature many healthy and scrumptious options like Teriyaki bowls, which are served with steamed rice, veggies and your choice of meat for less than $10.00! Combo Bento plates are also a fantastic affordable lunch option if you are anything like me, and enjoy trying a little bit of everything.  Combo Bento Plates are served with steamed rice, house salad, half a California roll and your choice of Panko Chicken, Korean Short Ribs, Panko Crab Cake, Sushi & Sashimi or Shrimp and Veggie Tempura… and they are all under $10.00! They also have a lunch special that includes 2 classic rolls and soup or salad, also for under $10.00!

“This is the best sushi spot in Oldsmar, hands down,” says Local Food Guide Paul H. “Their food is incredibly fresh and they offer a great drink selection. They have great happy hour sushi specials with a really friendly wait staff. This place is perfect for a date night or a healthy and delicious lunch. Hot Tuna has quickly become our go to sushi place due to the consistent quality and incredible service.”

Hot Tuna has been offering diners the tastiest, freshest and most beautifully prepared fare since opening its doors in May 2013. 

“5 star sushi, 5 star service. My family and I have been coming here for many years. This place blows away 99% of sushi places on the entire west coast of Fl, and in Tampa…” says frequent customer Jeff R on his recent 5-star Google review. “We only order the extravagant rolls, lettuce wraps, and ship cocktail every time. 100% recommend this restaurant if you are looking for awesome sushi. Service is superb. I am impressed by their consistency over the past five years.”

Family owned and operated, Hot Tuna is meticulously ran by Hanh and her family, who combined forces from their previous experience in the restaurant business to bring this concept to life. Together, Hanh and the entire staff enjoy providing new spins on traditional Asian cuisine. All chefs and sushi chefs have many years of experience, and their incredible talent and skills translates into culinary works of art that are fun, delicious and always fresh!

“We rebuilt this entire place to be the perfect setting for Hot Tuna,” says Hanh. Hot Tuna features beautiful lighting, a stylish sushi bar, miniature rock gardens and intimate table settings in a tastefully decorated fashion. Upbeat music plays throughout the restaurant at the perfect level; guests feel as if they have entered an upscale, yet casually swank restaurant. The menu at Hot Tuna offers diners a diverse selection of masterpieces. Hanh says, “We are more than just a sushi place. We have steak, chicken, shrimp, teriyaki bowls and other tasty entrées. Some people don’t like sushi, so we strive to offer many options, so people in your party aren’t feeling left with only sushi to choose from.”

Hot Tuna features a delicious array of appetizers. If you like seafood with a kick try the T-N-T mussels with wasabi Japanese mayo and wasabi tobiko. They are amazing! I’m big fan of anything “tempura” style, so I tried the Udon Tempura, which consisted of a delicious bowl of seafood broth with udon noodles, served with a side of tempura shrimp and vegetables. The broth delicious and the tempura shrimp and veggies were perfectly light and crispy, and served with a delicious tempura sauce.

Salads at Hot Tuna are crafted to perfection. My husband and I loved the Sunomono Salad, with sliced cucumbers and assorted fresh seafood with rice wine vinaigrette. We take our seafood seriously. My husband is a fishing guide, so he has taught me how to recognize fresh seafood at restaurants, and Hot Tuna definitely has some of the freshest fish we’ve ever had in the city.

Hot Tuna’s signature sushi rolls are as beautiful as they are delicious. The Jade Dragon Roll was the perfect start to a wonderful sushi feast. Imagine the perfect combination of sesame tuna, asparagus, krab delight and cream cheese, topped with tempura chips, smelt roe, avocado and finished off with a sweet and spicy chili sauce… YUM! All the flavors combined created an incredible explosion of flavor and the chili sauce gave this roll the perfect amount of spice. 

The Paper Crane Roll was extremely flavorful yet light. It consists of spicy tuna, atomic aioli, white rice, spring mix, cucumber and daikon, all wrapped in thin rice paper and topped with a flavorful sesame chili oil.  If you’re into fresh sushi but are tired of the same old rolls, give the Paper Crane a try.

The Scorpion Roll was the perfect combination of savory and spicy. A delicious work of art made with crab claw, cucumber, fresh avocado, tempura shrimp, topped with fresh tuna, jalapeño, black tobiko and paprika oil. The name got my attention; the taste made me a fan!

The Volcano roll is a staple in the Sushi world, and the Hot Tuna version of this classic will not disappoint. Fresh tuna, cream cheese, cucumber topped with avocado, baked seafood dynamite, eel sauce and spicy mayo. Yum!

We also had the opportunity to sample another roll, and my personal favorite of the day; the Pink Lady. This roll consists of Tempura shrimp, cream cheese, krab delight, asparagus, all wrapped in pink soy paper. Topped with special spicy salmon mix center and garlic teriyaki sauce. 

Hanh is very proud of Hot Tuna’s sake selections, and your server will be more than willing to explain the different tastes to help you find the perfect sake for your enjoyment. Sake can be enjoyed hot or cold, it all depends on your particular preference. Hanh also mentioned that they recently started offering a wide variety of Japanese beers from the Kiuch Brewery like the White Ale and the Red Rice Ale Kitachino Nest. I personally prefer beer over sake, so having the opportunity to try exotic new beers along with exotic sushi rolls was truly the icing on the cake.

Speaking of desserts, we had the chance to fall in love with the delicious flavor of Hot Tuna’s Tempura Ice Cream. Creamy vanilla ice cream is wrapped in pound cake and fried to perfection, then drizzled with chocolate and strawberry syrup over a slice of pineapple and surrounded by mountains of whip cream!

Hot Tuna Specials!

Hot Tuna has fabulous food and specials for you everyday! Happy Hour is from 5 – 7 p.m. every Monday through Friday and features 10 different Happy Hour Classic Rolls for $4 each, $1 nigiri (with rice) pieces and $2 sashimi (no rice) – these specials are for dining in only and there is a $10 minimum order.

“This is the best place in town for sushi,” says customer and local food guide Nicole C. “And given how much my teenage son eats, I can afford to let him go at it and get as much as he wants during the Happy Hour Specials. I highly recommend you pay Hot Tuna a visit any day, but particularly during their Happy Hour.”

Half priced Appetizers are offered Monday through Friday from 8:00pm to close. As well as 2 for 1 Saketinis & Sake Sangria, $2 House Wines, $2 Domestic and $3 Imported Beers.

Enjoy the modern style and freshness of Hot Tuna Sushi Bar & Grille, located at 3689 Tampa Road in Oldsmar. Hot Tuna is open Mon. – Thurs. from 11 a.m.–2 p.m. and 5–10 p.m.; Fri. from 11 a.m.–2 p.m. and 5–10:30 p.m.; from 12 –10:30 p.m. on Sat; and 12–9 p.m. on Sun. For more information, call (813) 818-TUNA or visit www.hottunasushi.com for the full menu! Hot Tuna gift cards are great gifts!_