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With the staggering number of Japanese restaurants that have opened recently, it's getting really hard to review sushi bars. I mean, how many times can you say "fresh" to describe raw fish? Of course the sushi is fresh; the place wouldn't be in business very long if it wasn't. If there were two or three places, the scale would be manageable ... but I'm looking at a casual list of almost two dozen places, not including chains like Kobe, so where does the line get drawn between good and bad, exceptional and only so-so?

I can say that Yae Sushi, one of the older, more established restaurants in the area, doesn't really raise the bar very much. I've had much, much worse, true, but I've had better. But this is something I'm sure you've said about a lot of restaurants, so let's just skip to what is good and unique about the place.

I can say that Yae Sushi, one of the older, more established restaurants in the area, doesn't really raise the bar very much. I've had much, much worse, true, but I've had better. But this is something I'm sure you've said about a lot of restaurants, so let's just skip to what is good and unique about the place.

ROLLS! Lots and lots of sushi rolls, more than you might find in any two other places combined: the standard rice-with-seaweed kind along with a dizzying variety of specialties. Go ahead, try to choose between the "space shuttle" roll (tempura shrimp, fish roe, avocado and cucumber) and the "panther" (tuna, cream cheese, asparagus and roe). Speaking of panthers, there's a whole section of maki for sports fans, with "Seminole," "UCF Knight" and "Tampa Buc" rolls. The "Gator" was particularly enticing to me, and not because I follow football -- any sushi that involves tempura gator tail, I have to try. And you know what? It's very good.

ROLLS! Lots and lots of sushi rolls, more than you might find in any two other places combined: the standard rice-with-seaweed kind along with a dizzying variety of specialties. Go ahead, try to choose between the "space shuttle" roll (tempura shrimp, fish roe, avocado and cucumber) and the "panther" (tuna, cream cheese, asparagus and roe). Speaking of panthers, there's a whole section of maki for sports fans, with "Seminole," "UCF Knight" and "Tampa Buc" rolls. The "Gator" was particularly enticing to me, and not because I follow football -- any sushi that involves tempura gator tail, I have to try. And you know what? It's very good.

There's a lot of avocado on the menu, and quite a few salmon rolls. Some selections are better than others. If you're very adventurous, order the kimchee roll or a "banzai" with conch and extremely hot sauce -- I guess wasabi isn't hot enough for some. Don't bother with "Yae jumbo," a futo-maki-style roll, with crab (fake), cream cheese, pickled gourd and avocado within a very large rice circle; it's just about everything I don't like about "modern" sushi all rolled into one, pardon the pun.

There's a lot of avocado on the menu, and quite a few salmon rolls. Some selections are better than others. If you're very adventurous, order the kimchee roll or a "banzai" with conch and extremely hot sauce -- I guess wasabi isn't hot enough for some. Don't bother with "Yae jumbo," a futo-maki-style roll, with crab (fake), cream cheese, pickled gourd and avocado within a very large rice circle; it's just about everything I don't like about "modern" sushi all rolled into one, pardon the pun.

Unagi might sound like the name of the teacher in "The Karate Kid," but it's actually freshwater eel, and I am crazy for it, so it's a good indicator to me of the caliber of the kitchen. Again, it's nicely done at Yae Sushi but not spectacular. What is nice is the size of the portions, particularly when ordering the dinner specials, where everything but the kitchen sink is included at a good price, and you could probably get the sink, too, if you asked (combos run from $12.50-$21).

Unagi might sound like the name of the teacher in "The Karate Kid," but it's actually freshwater eel, and I am crazy for it, so it's a good indicator to me of the caliber of the kitchen. Again, it's nicely done at Yae Sushi but not spectacular. What is nice is the size of the portions, particularly when ordering the dinner specials, where everything but the kitchen sink is included at a good price, and you could probably get the sink, too, if you asked (combos run from $12.50-$21).

One note: If you value your taste buds and nostrils, refuse the customary hot towel; it's loaded with a perfume that will overpower any other sensation.

One note: If you value your taste buds and nostrils, refuse the customary hot towel; it's loaded with a perfume that will overpower any other sensation.

If you're at all wary about eating sushi, I would recommend coming to Yae. There are enough wild and wacky rolls that you're bound to find something that will appeal to you.

There are not many restaurants on the fringes of Orlando that are worth the travel, but Yellow Dog Eats is at least one exception. Although you'd never guess it from the name, Yellow Dog Eats is a chic, charming, family-owned restaurant in the Windermere area that looks more like a Vermont country inn.

A couple of years ago, the restaurant was briefly located in a too-tiny shop on Park Avenue in Winter Park. Some people wondered if the name denoted a pet-food store, but nothing could be further from reality. The chef in the kitchen is Fish Morgan, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America -- the Harvard of cooking schools, who brought his skills back to the area where he grew up.

A couple of years ago, the restaurant was briefly located in a too-tiny shop on Park Avenue in Winter Park. Some people wondered if the name denoted a pet-food store, but nothing could be further from reality. The chef in the kitchen is Fish Morgan, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America -- the Harvard of cooking schools, who brought his skills back to the area where he grew up.

To call Yellow Dog Eats a sandwich shop is like referring to Julia Child as a lady who cooks. So while the menu offers primarily a selection of sandwiches and wraps, the results resemble something out of the pages of Gourmet magazine. Think along the lines of the "retriever's roast" beef sandwich, layered with sun-dried-tomato/rosemary cream cheese, Creole mustard and caramelized onions on herb-onion rye bread ($6.95). Or a "Yellow Dog club," served on fresh "pioneer" bread. It's glazed with orange-Cointreau mayonnaise and stacked with layers of honey-mesquite turkey, smoked Gouda, crunchy bacon and red-leaf lettuce.

To call Yellow Dog Eats a sandwich shop is like referring to Julia Child as a lady who cooks. So while the menu offers primarily a selection of sandwiches and wraps, the results resemble something out of the pages of Gourmet magazine. Think along the lines of the "retriever's roast" beef sandwich, layered with sun-dried-tomato/rosemary cream cheese, Creole mustard and caramelized onions on herb-onion rye bread ($6.95). Or a "Yellow Dog club," served on fresh "pioneer" bread. It's glazed with orange-Cointreau mayonnaise and stacked with layers of honey-mesquite turkey, smoked Gouda, crunchy bacon and red-leaf lettuce.

If you want something more eclectic, try the "milk bone" ($6.95), a curried chicken-salad sandwich with coconut, dried cherries, sunflower sprouts and mango-ginger vinaigrette, wrapped in an apple-cinnamon wrap. Then pick one of the side items from behind the counter, like mozzarella/tomato salad with pesto vinaigrette, and team it with a sweet, homemade finish hand-picked from the glass case. The strawberry-kiwi tart or the peanut butter-chocolate pie are two I can vouch for.

If you want something more eclectic, try the "milk bone" ($6.95), a curried chicken-salad sandwich with coconut, dried cherries, sunflower sprouts and mango-ginger vinaigrette, wrapped in an apple-cinnamon wrap. Then pick one of the side items from behind the counter, like mozzarella/tomato salad with pesto vinaigrette, and team it with a sweet, homemade finish hand-picked from the glass case. The strawberry-kiwi tart or the peanut butter-chocolate pie are two I can vouch for.

While Yellow Dog motivates dozens of people to line up and wait (and wait) on busy Saturdays, the setting is a pleasant distraction. The restaurant is located in a 93-year-old landmark home that used to be the site of a convenience store where Morgan bought candy as a kid. Now he shares the rambling property with his mother's business, Lee Morgan Interiors. The store is packed with home accessories, cookbooks and hundreds of bottles of wine, with dining tables scattered throughout. The effect is completely charming: Billie Holiday on the stereo, sampling trays of crackers and gourmet relishes, customers milling about.

While Yellow Dog motivates dozens of people to line up and wait (and wait) on busy Saturdays, the setting is a pleasant distraction. The restaurant is located in a 93-year-old landmark home that used to be the site of a convenience store where Morgan bought candy as a kid. Now he shares the rambling property with his mother's business, Lee Morgan Interiors. The store is packed with home accessories, cookbooks and hundreds of bottles of wine, with dining tables scattered throughout. The effect is completely charming: Billie Holiday on the stereo, sampling trays of crackers and gourmet relishes, customers milling about.

And for those who live or work nearby, there's another attraction: Morgan prepares daily dinner specials, which are packaged and sold for takeout (in the $10-$15 range) between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m., after the regular restaurant closes down.

And for those who live or work nearby, there's another attraction: Morgan prepares daily dinner specials, which are packaged and sold for takeout (in the $10-$15 range) between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m., after the regular restaurant closes down.

Combined with periodic wine tastings and plans for fall hayrides and a "Dress Your Dog" Halloween fund raiser for the Humane Society, Yellow Dog Eats has become a center of activity in the Windermere area. And no matter the distance, Yellow Dog Eats is worth the drive, but do come prepared to wait -- the word is spreading fast and furious beyond the neighborhood enclave.

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