Seito Sushi Japanese Restaurant. I’ve heard wonderful, incredible things about this restaurant. But my opinion has been irrevocably changed on July 16, ’06, by one of the most traumatizing events of my life.
I am a sushi lover at heart. I was introduced to this foreign delicacy by my deceitfully tricky, genius of a boyfriend. I would never have thought myself gullible, but I guess if you put your complete trust in someone, it becomes more of an occupational hazard. My significant other and I went to Japan, a pavilion in the Countries of the World exhibit at Epcot, Disney World, Florida. I ate food that was COOKED while he insisted on raw meat wrapped in rice. Eventually he convinced me to try what is called a California Roll, sealing the deal by confirming it was not raw meat. I acquiesced. I’m sure you know the drill from this point. He tricked me into eating wasabi.
He asked me if I liked spicy foods. Of course, I like spicy foods!! So I had a big helping of wasabi and spread it generously and lavishly all over my sushi, which I was now a ‘connoisseur’ of, and practically burned off every hair and fiber on my face while my head tried to implode. Of course, who should be laughing his head off at my expense in a crowded restaurant? My loving, yet ‘well-meaning’ boyfriend. I had quite a few words for him I must say! Though you have to give him credit, he kept a straight face the entire time. Thus began my quest for the best and most freshly made sushi I could find.
I’ve worked in restaurants before and I know very intimately the behind the scenes ‘cleanliness’ that occurs. As a result, I believe I’m a little more biased on keeping whatever happens behind the scenes, BEHIND the scenes. Strictly, “Don’t know, Don’t tell” policy. I even worked in a Sushi Restaurant near my house because I wanted to eat it all the time and not go bankrupt. Imagine that, the only American on staff. It was hilarious that many return guests wanted me as their server to act as liason between staff and management. In any case, I chose to celebrate my birthday with a small group of close friends.
They decided to surprise me by inviting me to a very upscale sushi restaurant. Great gift! I did feel a little underdressed. Very nice restaurant!
My friends Elaine, Shellita and Carlos had it all planned and I was very happy. We arrived and sat at a table on one of the room that looked as though it was sunken into the floor. I sat at a similar table in Kobe restaurant. Our waitress arrived and took our drink orders. We discussed ordering possibilities. We discovered Elaine doesn’t care for sushi, unless cooked and the rest of us realized we wanted to engorge ourselves so we ordered a Sushi boat for 4. While we waited for our meals the celebration of my birth commenced. Laughing, gift exchange, funny quips and anecdotes. Just 4 friends enjoying each others company. Our drinks had been empty for awhile when Elaines food arrived. Her food arrived separately and before ours was finished. Her food being cooked and ours being cold was not a wise decision on our waitresses part. Elaine’s food ended up being lukewarm until our food finally arrived.
Halfway through our meal, Carlos starts. The rest of us look up at him like ‘whats wrong’? Carlos sworn he saw movement. We each examined the sushi boat and as far as each of our naked eyes could see there was nothing moving. We blew Carlos off telling him he was seeing things and not to make a big deal about it. It was nothing. Three quarters of the way through our meal, Carlos is unflenchingly convinced he saw something move. So Elaine, Shellita and I all assist Carlos in lifting the tray from the top of the sushi boat so we can see underneath it. Several attempts and broken chopsticks later, we succeed only to find a nest of small roaches and some other unidentifiable bug nestled quite comfortably within the boat. With light shed on their makeshift home they decided to scurry up out of the boat onto the tray of food. At this particular moment all four of us let go of the boat at the same exact time issuing screams and incredible leaping movements that caused the silence of the entire interior of the restaurant, staff and guests alike.
I was personally so appalled that I was on the verge of losing the entire contents of my stomach, thereby creating another incident that would have the attention of the confused onlookers. The distraction of my friends was a blessing as they began gathering our belongings with the intention of ending our meal at that very moment. Then our waitress, whom we’d seen only once during our meal arrived as if on cue to ask if anything was wrong. Apalling! Elaine states in a loud carrying tone that yes there is something very wrong that we came to this highly acclaimed, highly credited restaurant to find roaches and other bugs in our food. The health inspector should be notified of this violation and the restaurant should be shut down! The sushi chefs sailed through the restaurant so fast, we blinked and they were at our table. They carried our boat high above their heads so no one would witness this disservice. One Chef immediately relieved us of our bill stating it was on the house.
The entire situation was so repugnant we proceeded to tell anyone who asks about our traumatizing experience. We cleared out more than 70% of their clientele and as we were leaving several patrons in conversation with staff insisting on not paying for their food if the restaurant was roach infested. Don’t know what happened after we left but Elaine insisted on calling news stations and reporters and the Health Department. The fact is that more than one roach is considered an infestation in any restaurant and should the Health Department be notified the restaurant would be closed down. Seito Sushi Japanese Restaurant of Winter Park Village in Winter Park, Florida is still in full operation to this day. How many people have eaten from that roach infested restaurant since that day. Would you want to drink out of a glass a roach has crawled on? Laid its eggs on. Would you like to be served food that roaches and other indesribable insects have hatched and nested on as you enjoy your meal on what you think is sanitary plateware and serving dishes? It is a travesty many patrons endure as a hazard of frequenting dine out restaurants. If this had happened to you, what would you do?
My first, last, and only experience eating at Seito Sushi Japanese Restaurant has me inspecting every morsal of food, every glass, utensil or serving ware placed in front of me. As a result, I have a newly acquired OCD complex about any restaurant I patron.