If you were to guess that a vivid, sex-bent, Hawaiian-themed sushi joint inside a Brazilian strip mall was the set of a debaucherous flick directed by John Waters, I'd likely say your presumption was spot-on. And if an overweight transvestite had bounded in through the front doors demanding to be spanked with a panko-crusted fish stick, I'd most definitely concur.
Alas, outrageous acts of portly depravity were entirely absent at the Xushi Factory on I-Drive, but that doesn't mean the smallest sushi restaurant in town failed to provide a singular, if somewhat bizarre, dining experience. For one, it's literally sandwiched between the Netto Gelato parlor and the Pão Gostoso Bakery. (A portal allows patrons to tread between Xushi and the bakery.) And then there's the scene: pumpin' dance music mixed with enough surfer-anime paraphernalia and puerile frippery to resemble a teenager's bedroom. At times, laid-back proprietor Jayson Aldan looks like he'd rather be riding a bitchin' wave on the breakline than serving sushi, but all the disparate elements, in some weirdly whimsical manner, seem to come together. It doesn't hurt that Aldan exhibits some killer skill in the art of sushi-rolling; just don't expect a diverse offering. The selection here is eclectic yet limited; but if you're yearning for a seafood fix after a shopping spree at the outlets, a stop by this stall satisfies.
The menu employs the sort of wordplay indicative of a 'sex-sellsâ?� approach ' a portion of the menu labeled 'Friend With Benefitsâ?� places a focus on nigiri, while rolls named 'Kalifornicationâ?� and 'CmonI1naLeiYaâ?� induce a chuckle. It's all fairly innocuous, though a lewd T-shirt draped over the counter might make a bluenose blush. A starter of ocean salad ($4.75), however, failed to arouse, the seaweed strings lubricated a little too liberally with sesame oil. The thin, bite-sized fillets of golden-fried panko snapper ($6.25) fared much better, especially after a worthy dip of homemade tartar sauce.
Sushi rolls are a specialty, and the aforementioned CmonI1naLeiYa ($10.50) is a mouthful both to say and to devour. Colorful, corpulent coils of tuna, spicy mayo and scallions topped with more tuna, panko-breaded salmon and masago take some time to chew through; the spring onions add strength to the crack and pop of salmon and smelt roe. If you like your rolls a little simpler, consider the Khainoa ($7). Spicy tuna, cuke and sesame wear an avocado-strip chapeau, making for a supremely light and refreshing snack. Crab-filled Kalifornication rolls ($4.75) offer a similar straightforward appeal, and the tempura-flaked Five-35 ($5.75), with your choice of tuna, salmon, snapper or crab, offers more of the same. Perfectly prepared banana tempura ($5) is the lone dessert offering ' that is, if you don't count the candy-sweet Japanese beverage Ramune, bottled in a cool marble-sealed glass receptacle.
If you're sushi-shy altogether, drop by after 10 p.m. That's when the bakery owner's son takes over Xushi Factory's space and transforms it into a Brazilian burger and sandwich spot until 2 a.m. And if you're hesitant to make the trek to the tourist-trap thoroughfare for sushi, consider this: Florida residents receive a 20 percent discount, and during these particularly tough economic times, such a deal, in a word, is divine.