Soupakase, a new omakase experience at Soupa Saiyan 3, offers high value and sushi splendor

Sea change

"Soupakase" omakase at Soupa Saiyan 3
"Soupakase" omakase at Soupa Saiyan 3 photo by Rob Bartlett
"Soupa Saiyan makes an animated argument for uninhibited slurping," I said in 2016 about the Universal Studios-adjacent noodle house plastered in Dragon Ball Z paraphernalia. It's become a sort of destination shrine to fans of the anime series, which leads me to the following request — a request that's fallen on deaf ears in the past and will likely fall on deaf ears again. Can someone please open a Star Blazers/Space Battleship Yamato-themed noodle house? I mean that would be so cool. Really. It would. Be cool. Wouldn't it?

Right. I'll just move on to Soupa Saiyan 3, the third and latest outpost of the burgeoning franchise by husband-and-wife tandem Marshall Phanthachit and Joy Nguyen (with an assist from Johnny and Jimmy Tung). What sets Soupa Saiyan 3 apart from the original as well as Soupa Saiyan 2 in Jacksonville is that it houses a sub-concept called Soupakase. If you're thinking that's a multicourse meal comprising a chef's selection of soups, you'd be wrong, so wrong. Admittedly, I thought that at first, and thought it a great idea, though not as good an idea as a Star Blazers-themed noodle house. No, Soupakase is a proper omakase utilizing high-grade ingredients, much of it coming from Toyosu Fish Market in Tokyo. It's overseen by chef David Tsan, a skilled blade who's honed his knives and his technique at sushi powerhouses Morimoto Asia and Kabooki Sushi. "He's one of the few I can trust to make sushi in Orlando," says Yuhi Fujinaga, executive chef at Morimoto Asia. "I trust him 100 percent."

click to enlarge Sushi at Soupa Saiyan 3 - PHOTO BY ROB BARTLETT
photo by Rob Bartlett
Sushi at Soupa Saiyan 3

Tsan's rotating, seasonal Soupakase comprises 10 courses of nigiri along with a handroll and soup (!) all for the too-good-to-be-true price of $65. But too good and true it is. Tsan may even serve a sakizuke (similar to an amuse-bouche) before the nigiri, as he did on my visit — two raw pieces of sweet shrimp tail, one crowned with uni, the other with basil, along with crispy-fried shrimp head. They were connected by a circular trail of avocado puree on a plate slicked with cucumber water, which I duly slurped when Tsan wasn't looking. That was followed by a piece-by-piece serving of 10 nigiri, each with their own flavor profile — sweet madai (sea bream) topped with pickled plum, fleur de sel and lime juice; delicate shima-aji (striped jack) with matcha salt and scallion puree; buttery New Zealand king salmon crowned (get it?) with tomato jam and truffle hot sauce; bold horse mackerel with ginger and scallion; cold-smoked chu-toro, and on it went.

Two favorites were the tiger shrimp sheened in Cajun lemon-beurre, and the sirloin of A4 wagyu served with a cauliflower puree and snort-worthy truffle powder. "I can't believe this is only $65," I said to my dining comrade. And unlike other omakases, you're free to order any item again after your meal — the shrimp was $4; the wagyu $14.

Tsan slices, brushes, grates and tweezers his ingredients with aplomb, all the while keeping unobtrusive watch over the proceedings so that plating is in concordance with the pace of the guest. We had the right amount of time to gush and discuss (disgush?) the merits of the truffle pâté on the akami zuke (marinated tuna) and how the ikura cut through the richness of sea urchin in the uni roll. When Tsan handed us spicy tuna handrolls, we noted how the pickled daikon radish did the same for the tuna that the ikura did for the uni.

click to enlarge Soupa Saiyan 3 - PHOTO BY ROB BARTLETT
photo by Rob Bartlett
Soupa Saiyan 3

I should note that even though we had completed 11 courses, we weren't about to go Mr. Creosote all over the place. This was a pragmatically portioned meal, so that when we slurped a broth made from — get this — foie gras, wagyu and roasted fish bones, we could thoroughly enjoy it in a bloat-free sort of way. The soup was a bit too hot to enjoy immediately, which gave us cause to devour the accompanying snow crab and uni risotto while the broth cooled.

I'd say this is the best value of any omakase in town, but I'm sure you've gathered that by now. In fact, I expect Tsan will be a very busy man in the coming weeks and may have to offer his Soupakase beyond just Wednesday to Sunday. Reservations? You can make them online, or you can just walk up to the sushi bar at 5 p.m. and request it. It's all very casual and chill, and you can bet you'll see me here often. I'll be the one seated at the sushi bar reading my Star Blazers comic book.

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