Nestor Espartero, the owner of Volcanic Sushi + Sake, has a long history of working in restaurants all over Florida. His experience in Japanese restaurants has led him to Gainesville, where he owns one of our city’s favorite sushi restaurants. After my first visit to Volcanic Sushi + Sake last week, located in Haile Village Center, I now understand why they have been crowned as the Best Local Sushi in Gainesville for the past 3 years and how Chef Espartero has captured the people of Gainesville’s hearts (and stomachs!) with his exceptional food, service, and kindness.
The beginning of Chef Espartero’s story with Volcanic Sushi + Sake isn’t that of your typical business venture. Espartero moved to America at the young age of 19 equipped with a brand new engineering degree. But after taking on a part-time job as a server, Espartero quickly realized his true passion was in working with food and hungry customers that craved his food.
“As a chef, the satisfaction of the job comes much quicker and is much more rewarding.”
Espartero says that what he loves about being a chef and restaurant owner is that he’s able to communicate with and serve customers directly.
“When you have good energy and you love what you do, I think people can recognize that and appreciate it.”
Espartero’s love for his community was evident when he spoke to me about his customers and employees, and told stories of his experiences as a chef all over Florida. His impressive track record explains the success of Volcanic Sushi + Sake here in Gainesville. It's one of the many reasons why loyal customers continue to vote for this spot as one of their favorites in Our Town Gainesville Magazine.
Here are some of the dishes from my visit to Volcanic Sushi + Sake last week.
If you’re in the mood for a refreshing and chilled sushi appetizer, the Kanisu roll is the one for you. Wrapped in thin slices of cucumber, the mixture of krab meat and avocado in a tangy vinegar sauce is perfect while you wait for the main dish. The mix of sweet and salty, and crunchy and soft come together for a perfect burst of flavor in each bite.
Even with such a large selection of sushi lunch combos on the menu, I decided to go for a classic. You can never go wrong with a California Roll and some sashimi, and Volcanic Sushi did not disappoint.
A bowl of steamy ramen with shrimp tempura marinated in kimchi vegetables and spicy broth would be perfect for the coming winter. The bowl comes with three pieces of tempura shrimp and the broth has a slight kick to it, amplifying the heat.
Even though I’m not a huge fan of green tea myself, Volcanic’s green tea cheesecake was surprisingly one of my favorite dishes. The velvety texture of the cheesecake paired perfectly with the soft crunch of the graham cracker on the bottom. The syrupy raspberry drizzle on top highlighted the faint taste of green tea throughout the creamy cheesecake. I’ll definitely be ordering this again the next time I visit.
Espartero says that above all else, his goal is to provide good food and good service.
"Our motto is Kaizen, it's a Japanese phrase meaning continuous improvement."
The charming and popular Volcanic Sushi storefront in Haile Village Center will be moving to a new location this week, but don't worry, it's only down the street from the current location. In the true spirit of "kaizen," this new location offers almost double the seating of the previous Haile location and a fresh, new look along with it. Volcanic Sushi fans are sure to love this refreshing and modern atmosphere where they can enjoy the same delicious food from Volcanic's kitchen.
With two locations here in Gainesville, Volcanic Sushi + Sake is sure to satisfy your sushi cravings no matter where you are in town. Stop by the new Haile location or visit Volcanic Sushi at Hunter's Crossing for your fix of sushi, ramen, or a hot cup of sake!