Wife-and-husband duo Rosa and Yung Kim have relocated the signature sushi at Samurai Blue’s second location to the Carrollwood area of Tampa. A little over a month ago, their new restaurant quietly opened at 13703 N. Dale Mabry Highway, which previously housed an auto shop.
“This time around we didn’t do a grand opening because we were trying to get construction done ASAP,” according to co-owner Rosa, who also serves as general manager. “As soon as everything was done, we opened the next morning.”
In 2001, the original Samurai Blue outpost premiered at Centro Ybor in historic Ybor City. The inspiration behind the restaurant, as Rosa tells it, is pretty simple.
“The way of life for the samurai is with their sword, like how the knife is a way of life for the sushi chef,” she said, adding that the “blue” in Samurai Blue represents her favorite color. “We just want an establishment where you come in for any occasion and feel like you’re at home.”
The opening of Samurai Blue Westchase followed in 2006. When it came time to renew the restaurant’s lease, the Kims went another route, opting instead to move their second location to a different part of Tampa. Carrollwood became their number-one choice.
The couple scoped out other sites for the relocation, of course, but one neighborhood kept calling.
“We looked for quite some time around Tampa, but I really wanted to be in Carrollwood, and [Yung] started to fall in love with the area, too,” Rosa said. “We just kept being drawn here.”
Featuring 4,500 square feet of space for 190 diners, Samurai Blue Carrollwood showcases a mix of traditional and modern dishes. The sushi menu offers classics like sashimi and nigiri, plus a variety of specialty rolls, while the menu of non-sushi fare highlights dim sum, karaage (that’s Japanese fried chicken), tonkotsu-shoyu ramen and furikake salmon, among other items.
Guests will find the nine-seat full bar in the back of the restaurant; drinks start at $4.50 for a beer and $8 for a cocktail or wine. The private gathering space, which is scheduled to launch soon, can accommodate larger parties of up to 14.
Samurai Blue Carrollwood operates seven days a week. The restaurant does lunch from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, reopening for dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 5 to 11 p.m. Friday. Weekend dinner service runs from 4 to 11 p.m. Saturday and 4 to 10 p.m. Sunday.
“We just wanted to bring another great concept to Carrollwood,” Rosa said. “There’s been some growth and change here, and it’s a nice neighborhood here with some nice people... We hope people come in and love our food, service and atmosphere.”