We recently had dinner at the new Jimotti's Restaurant and based on that experience, we will be back, and soon. "Jimotti" means "local people" in Japanese, a fitting name for a new locally owned restaurant, a welcome addition to the growing Sanford restaurant scene. They specialize in high quality Japanese food, using local fresh ingredients as well as some fish imported directly from Japan. While their start is sushi and Japanese food, the menu is varied and also caters to more traditional American tastes as well.
In the restaurant world, Chef/Owner Junichi is no newcomer to fame, having cooked for many Hollywood celebrities including Oprah, and he helped open "Morimoto's Asia" at Disney Springs. And now he has brought his talent and skills and attention to detail to Sanford. Lucky Sanford.
We arrived shortly after 5 on a Friday afternoon. Lucky for us, it was happy hour with Kirin Ichiban beer for $3 a glass and several appetizers on special ($5). We were promptly greeted and seated. Our waiter was polite, friendly, and knowledgeable, and the one time he did not know the answer to our question, quickly found out. After ordering drinks (the Kirin Ichiban for me, a glass of wine for Tommy), and after a lot of studying of the menu and questions answered, we ordered. Our food appeared rather quickly, too.
For an appetizer I had the "Sausage Bro," two sets of three small sausages. First of all, the plating was superb. The sausages were sitting on a smear of whole grain mustard (itself very good), garnished with some peas and a slice of watermelon radish, and further topped with a tiny bit of pea tendrils. Very pretty plate. The sausages were superb. Though both very good, for some reason I slightly preferred the ones on the lower right. But all were extremely tasty, flavorful, and quite juicy. The mustard was a nice compliment. This was a very good dish, and i would assuredly order it again!
Tommy ordered the Kala-ague for his appetizer--Japanese Fried Chicken. Chicken thigh muscles were divided here, sort of tempura-battered, and fried. First of all, the chicken was extremely tender and juicy, full of flavor. I think it could have used just a tad less salt, but was very good. The plate was garnished with a battered, fried pepper (a bit hot) and a slice of lime which we put on the chicken. This too was very good. Different than traditional American southern fried chicken, it was still excellent. You cannot get chicken this good at a traditional grocery store, it was bursting with flavor and as tender as any i've ever had. And perfectly cooked, too, just perfect. Another thing we'd order again.
Finally, it was down to the entrees. We were in a sushi restaurant, and so we ordered sushi: the Spicy Yellowtail Roll for me, and a California Roll for Tommy (who is not a friend of uncooked fish). My Spicy Yellowtail roll was very good. I thought it could have been a bit more spicy, but it was still very good, the fish very tender, the flavors right on. Tommy's California roll was pretty typical for a California roll, but certainly well executed. We were very happy with our choices. I would say that the wasabi, to me, was a bit underpowered. I like a very, very strong wasabi and this was fairly mild. But that's a minor point, we still loved what we had to eat and will certainly be back.
One other thing to point out, and that's the attention to detail. If you look closely, you can see regular and black sesame seeds. You can also see the delicate texture and color of the Yellowtail. My guess is that this was Japanese amberjack, but whatever, it was excellent.
Several times during our meal, we were graced with Chef Junichi himself, who checked to make sure everything was to our liking. We also has a nice conversation about Sanford in general and Alive After 5, one of our favorite Sanford events. It sounds like he may come next month and participate and promote his restaurant. I sure hope he does, because this is a gem of a place.
Jimotti's has been a few things in the past few years, and is an older place. But they have put a lot of time and effort (and paint) into cleaning it up, updating an modernizing what they could, and making it an inviting place. I think they'll be around for a long time. It's really very good and I'm already scheming for my return visit. I have some friends from College Park that really like good sushi, i think I'll invite them, and I'm sure they'll be impressed at what Sanford has to offer! Give it a try, I think you'll be amazed, just like we were.