The restaurant that for so many years was called Ichiban (and which was one of downtown’s earliest Japanese and sushi restaurants) is now called Shakai Sushi Lounge. There is much more emphasis on the lounge than on the sushi.
The space has been turned into a beautiful restaurant with loads of designer touches that all work together. The rough-textured red brick walls (including newer sections that likely covered windows or doorways), dark wood floors, a bar top that glows from within, and, over the bar, sculptured hanging light globes — maybe 20 of them — looking like twisted strips of bandages, no two alike.
Complementing the light globes are panels of bunched sticks, some resembling corks, hanging at various levels over the row of banquettes along the wall. It is the sort of space I would expect to find in New York’s West Village. Someone spent a lot of time on creating a lovely space.
I wish as much care had been paid to the food. Two rolls that I tried from the list of makizushi offerings, the dynamite and the dragon, were as bland and flavorless as they could be. And the rice was hard as though it had been refrigerated.
Chicken teriyaki was also rather bland, the strips of chicken doused in soy and sprinkled with sesame seeds. The plate included a mound of fried rice and mixed steamed vegetables that desperately called for some sort of seasoning.
Shakai was doing a brisk lunch business when I visited. Good for them if they’re able to fill the tables. But if I return, I think I’d rather go at night, sit at the bar, enjoy a cocktail and soak up the decor.
Shakai is at 19 S. Orange Ave., Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner daily. Here is a link to shakaiorlando.com. The phone number is 407-423-2688.