By Emma Montross, MA 2014-15
After returning from winter break, students living in Marist housing were surprised to find several new stores and restaurants in the San Lorenzo neighborhood. Casa del Puff (a beanbag store) and Mignon (a bakery specializing in cupcakes and American breakfast) unfortunately closed their doors, but as the saying goes, when one door closes another one opens! And those doors came in the form of Carrefour and Wasabi. Carrefour is a wonderful grocery store that this blog post will not focus on because Wasabi, located on Via De Ginori 20/R, is an all-you-can-eat Japanese restaurant that needs an article written all for itself. With €15 for lunch or €18 for dinner (excluding drinks), you can eat any and everything that comes down the conveyer belt to your heart’s content. If that isn’t target marketing for the hoards of bottomless-stomach students in Florence, I don’t know what is.
Wasabi’s version of all-you-can-eat might be a little bit different than visitors may know from their Japanese/Chinese restaurants at home. The kitchen puts out a nonstop array of single-serve plates with individual pieces of whatever they decide: sushi, noodles, soups, shish kebabs, fruit, and more. If you want a specific plate immediately upon arrival, you are out of luck. The conveyer belt spans the entire restaurant and runs at a moderately normal pace leaving just enough time to decide if you want to try the new plate heading your way or effectively ignore it and banish it from your sight. And while most certainly you will not need to be a sushi connoisseur, since the plates are not labeled, you will need to be able to recognize some basic fish/meats/vegetables as they come around. Not to worry, however, because everything that comes down the belt is delicious, fresh, and diverse. If you do not like the forbidden rice salmon roll with a peanut topping now, in a few seconds there will be a bowl of edamame or an individual hand roll for the taking.
In my opinion, the food is very well done at Wasabi. The sushi is fresh, the noodles have just enough sauce, and the non-Chinese/Japanese food, while a comic surprise to see, is decent enough to still enjoy. I have to admit, I was surprised when I saw what looked like Tiramisu making its way down the conveyer belt, and was surprised further upon trying it that it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. Definitely not the best, but nonetheless, I still enjoyed the cream and cookie mixture.
Standout plates, for me, were the mint jello and miso soup. Despite being disappointed that the mint jello was not green apple jello, the mint sat happily and cleansed the palette. The miso soup, a sushi staple, was the perfect ratio of salty seaweed to warm broth. It has always been my opinion that restaurants that do seemingly easy dishes well are ones worth returning to.
Overall, Wasabi is a fun and delicious restaurant where friends can meet up and enjoy a great meal. The atmosphere is light thanks to the bright color palette of the walls and place settings, and the whole area is clean and obviously taken care of with pride. The service, essential when plates can stack up easily, is on-point and prompt. The conveyer belt of wonder does not disappoint, and definitely invites patrons to try new food that they normally would not order in a sit-down restaurant. I definitely recommend going to anyone that has not; Wasabi has now become a go-to staple for the eternal question of “where should we go out to dinner tonight guys?”
One word of warning however – watch out for the automatic sliding doors. They hurt if you’re standing in the doorway for too long.